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2018 SEASON PREVIEW: SYDNEY UNI SPARKS
Thursday, March 29, 2018

WOMEN

Departing:
Teaan Moatta, Tylah Mundine.

Returning:
Susannah Walmsley, Tahlia Tupaea, Katie Castle, Emily Matthews, Sherrie Calleia, Shanae Greaves, Kimberley Hodge, Natalia Beaumont, Lara McSpadden, Madeleine O’Hehir, Serika Shillingsworth, Chloe Morrissey.

Newcomers:
Emily Simmons, Meg Jeffs.

Fixture:
The Sydney Uni Sparks will tip off their season on the road against last year’s champions Geelong in Round 1. They will play three games at home from Round 8-10 but also face five double-header weekends throughout the regular season.

Overall:
In their debut season last year, Sydney Uni proved to be one of the best teams in the league as they finished third in a tough East Conference before beating Nunawading in the Semi-Final. They have almost the exact same roster in 2018 to combat any sophomore slump and with a heap of WNBL talent, there is no reason to think the Sparks won’t be near the top of the ladder again this season.

Injuries have hampered Tahlia Tupaea’s recent SEABL and WNBL campaigns but she was healthy come playoff time during the 2017/18 WNBL season which will hopefully mean she is back in top form for the Sparks. With size at the point guard position, she is a tough match-up and will be benefited by the shooting prowess of Susannah Walmsley and Madeleine O’Hehir who both showed signs last year. Shanae Greaves is the eldest player on the team despite just turning 25 next week but her near 200 games experience will be vital to helping some of the up and coming forwards like Lara McSpadden and Natalia Beaumont. McSpadden shot 52% from the field in 2017 for 8.7 points per game while Beaumont had a season-high of 20 points against Hobart to average 4.8 points and three rebounds.

The Sparks had a range of contributors offensively last season with eight players averaging five points per game or more and they will need to continue to utilise their depth to repeat their efforts of 2017. Entering the coaching space, Belinda Snell has taken the reins at Sydney Uni this season and while her team is certainly capable, Snell’s biggest test may be getting the best out of what is still a very young group.