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2018 SEASON PREVIEW: NUNAWADING SPECTRES
Thursday, March 29, 2018

MEN

Departing:
Andrew Cassin, Dyson King-Hawea, Michael Cassin.

Returning:
Costas Hronopoulos, Ambros Eugster, Shane McDonald, Jesse Casperz, Daniel Baxter, Tom Wright, Jack Saunders, Simon Conn, Andrew Steel, Jon Cooke, Matt O’Hea, Dain Swetalla.

Newcomers:
Jack Gandolfo, Zachary Coleman-Bock, Luke Van Rijn.

Fixture:
The Spectres will begin their season when they face local rivals the Melbourne Tigers before playing their first home game of the year against Diamond Valley. Nunawading will have 3 games at home to close out April before travelling to Mt Gambier, Geelong, Kilsyth and Hobart through the middle of the season. The Bendigo Braves will be their final regular season opponent at home in round 15.

Overall:
Since David Biwer came on board as head coach in 2011, the Spectres have been a consistent finals contender and only missed the playoffs once although they have just one Championship to their name despite that sustained success. They fell in the East Conference Final last year but have once again retained a majority of their roster and are sure to be one of the teams in the hunt at the business end of the season in 2018.

The evergreen combination of Shane McDonald and Simon Conn will lead them on court and while Conn just turned 35, he is coming off an MVP year which saw him average 20.8 points (fifth in the league) and 9.1 rebounds (seventh) with consistent performances week in and week out. His mid-range game remains close to unstoppable, especially with McDonald (2017 Golden Hands winner) feeding him while the floor is also stretched by three-pointer shooters Andrew Steel (who has proven his versatility as the number one ranked 3×3 player in Australia) and Matt O’Hea who is a 39% shooter from distance over his near 400-game career.

Tom Wright is another capable three-point shooter who also relieves the point guard duties from McDonald which will be key to Nunawading’s season as McDonald is also getting on in years. Dain Swetella arrived with Wright last season and took some of the load off Conn, showcasing his ability to score with a 44-point effort against Albury/Wodonga before averaging 15.7 points overall. The Spectres will need all their guns to fire again if they are going to rise up the ladder and could be caught undone by relying on a few elder stars but punters will bet against the consistent performers at their own peril.

WOMEN

Departing:
Georgia Sjodin, Georgia Stirton, Ali Drennan, Rebecca Eddy, Saraid Taylor, Anita Brown, Megan Krischer, Brittany Wunhym.

Returning:
Keeley Frawley, Sherry Glennie, Jacqui Trotto, Marena Whittle, Sarah Slater.

Newcomers:
Vanessa Panousis, Rachel Antoniadou, Brooke West, Izzy Chilcott, Lucy Cochrane, Jacinta Vandenberg, Tessa Boyd, Hanna Zavecz.

Fixture:
Hitting the ground running, Nunawading face a double-header in Round 1 before a busy month of May will see them travel to Sydney Uni, Geelong, Kilsyth and Hobart. The Bendigo Lady Braves will be their final regular season opponent at home in Round 15.

Overall:
The Spectres have been busy in the off-season in order to return to the playoffs and with a wealth of WNBL talent as well as some impressive recruiting from other teams, they look capable of making a real run in 2018. Rachel Antoniadou has made the move from Dandenong, a team she also represents in the WNBL, after 70+ games and will be hoping the Spectres can provide her with more court time. Vanessa Panousis is a national player who won gold at the 2017 World University Games for Australia and Nunawading will be looking to her to be the club’s playmaker while also providing a potent three-point threat.

They have nabbed Izzy Chilcott as well who missed 2017 but put together a career-year for the Chargers in 2016 with 14.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Her experience on court will be crucial alongside the addition of Jacinta Vandenberg who will hold down the paint as a 196cm centre after previously playing for Dandenong and spending the past season in Germany. She will be assisted by Hanna Zavecz who has spent a significant amount of time in SEABL while also representing the Opals in past Oceania Championships.

Marena Whittle is coming off a season for Nunawading in which she was named to the All-SEABL First Team which put her on the Townsville Fire radar. Unfortunately, a knee injury meant she never hit the court for the WNBL Champions and that could hamper her 2018 campaign. She averaged 16.5 points and 8.1 rebounds last year and the Spectres will be hoping she is fighting fit to help lead their charge back into the post-season.