SEABL >
2018 SEASON PREVIEW: SANDRINGHAM SABRES
Thursday, March 29, 2018

MEN

Departing:
Ethan Oday, Justin Gordan, Daniel Florance.

Returning:
Finn Kenny, Jamie Cogonini, Alex Andrews, Lachie Lemons, Nathan Crosswell, Igor Hadziomerovic, Stefan Uzelac, Alister MacDonald, Jamie Batish.

Newcomers:
Octavius Brown, Anthony Odunsi, Zak Pentelis, Cam Taylor, Makuei Puondak.

Fixture:
The Sabres will host Diamond Valley in Round 1 and remain home the following weekend against Frankston but from there face a difficult stretch of six out of seven games on the road. Returning home in Round 13, they then host consecutive games at Sandringham Basketball Stadium to finish off the regular season.

Overall:
Sandringham reached the playoffs in 2017 but were the only team in the post-season with a losing record and a similar situation this year could see them not make the finals due to a new ladder structure without conferences. They have brought in two imports to help them improve on that mark in Octavius Brown and Anthony Odunsi while maintaining their scoring power with four of their top seven scorers from last season.

Brown is a 204cm forward who is coming off a season in Switzerland as well as three years at Alcorn State University. He has the ability to attack the rim but a smooth jumper will help stretch defences as well and he will be hoping fellow American, Odunsi, can set him up with open looks throughout the year. Odunsi’s size enables him to play any three positions around the perimeter and with others such as Stefan Uzelac, Jamie Batish and the experienced Nathan Crosswell as support, the Sabres look to have a lot of depth in the back court.

Igor Hadziomerovic is back for Sandringham as well after improving his career numbers with 13.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last year. Another swingman who can do damage at both ends of the floor, he also recorded 1.4 steals per contest while reaching a season-high of five on two occasions. Alongside him, Alister MacDonald is a sharpshooter who averaged 12.2 points in 2017 while shooting 40% from the field, 35% from long range and 89.5% from the free-throw line (third in the league). There is no doubt their back-court will be able to keep the scoreboard ticking over but the question remains whether their forwards will be able to match it with the best in the competition this season.

WOMEN

Departing:
Kate Hore, Shannon Perrett, Isabelle Shea, Chole Hicks, Brittany Smart, Kim Rennie, Mel Prior, Courteney Munn, Katie Bugden, Jasmine Gill, Carly Chatfield.

Returning:
Jess Bygate, Deanna Jolliffe, Ella Batish, Morgan Riley, Monique Lyth.

Newcomers:
Jasmine Simmons, Rachel Jarry, Eilidh Simpson, Cassie Hill, Hannah Kaser, Aimie Clydesdale, Megan Craig, Alice Humble.

Fixture:
After hosting Hobart in Round 3, the Sabres face a tough run that sees them play five consecutive games on the road over just three rounds. The team will hope to take advantage of the final five games of the season though with a nice stretch of home games. Sandringham also plays Bendigo in Round 8 which will see coach Jonathan Goodman take on his old side.

Overall:
There have been some significant changes for Sandringham in the off-season and not all of the movements have been on court with ex-Bendigo coach Jonathan Goodman to lead the Sabres in 2018. He departs the Braves after five years, four Grand Final appearances and two Conference Championships and he will be hoping to bring that success to a team that is desperate to make some noise in the post-season.

They have lost a couple of significant pieces in Brittany Smart and Jasmine Gill as well as some mainstays in Shannon Perrett and Carly Chatfield but their replacements are more than adequate and include strong international pedigrees. Rachel Jarry is a two-time Olympian with the Opals as well as a WNBL and WNBA Champion although recent concussion injuries could be a concern heading into this campaign. Aimie Clydesdale won a silver medal with the Opals at the FIBA Asia Cup last year and has made the move from Dandenong after averaging double-figures in points over her 140-game career while Jess Bygate will be back once she represents New Zealand at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

In addition, Jasmine Simmons comes to the Sabres after a stint with the Centre of Excellence. She captained the Sapphires in 2016 to the Australian Under-17’s first ever gold medal and was also named in the tournament’s All-Star Five. Having verbally agreed to join Oregon State, Simmons will be utilising this season as a tune-up to the next step in a burgeoning career. Finally, Eilidh Simpson also makes her return to the team after coming up through the ranks of the Sabres juniors. A potent scorer, Simpson has a deadly three-point shot and can also play the one or two spot as an important part of Sandringham’s depth this year.