Can the Kilsyth men return to the playoffs under a new coach and do their women have a team that can improve on their Runners-Up finish in the past two years?
Kyle Adnam, Aaron Reinbott, Jackson Brazier, Avery Johnson, Kieran Murphy, Ben Ursich, Corey Jeffs, Gerard Leonard, Joel Naburgs, Michael Knoll, Tim Lang, Tom Wright, Will Sinclair.
Kieran Murphy, Alex Vanrenan, Auryn MacMillan, Jorden Adnam.
Daniel Tomada, Josh Kunen, Tariq Naqqash, Chris Patton, Nelson Kirksey (import), Owen Odigie, Gabe Hadley, Blacio O’Wili, Jamie Ahale, Liam Evans, Mitchell Dielemans.
With arguably the toughest start to the season of any team fixture-wise, Kilsyth face five straight road games as well as double-headers from Round 1-3. It makes for a healthy back half of the year though with five of their final seven games to be played at the Kilsyth Sports Centre.
The return of Auryn MacMillan after a season away from the league will boost the club, especially with the loss of fellow big man Tim Lang and MacMillan’s chemistry with past Melbourne United team mate Chris Patton will be key to the Cobras’ chances in 2017. Desmond Owili is another front court presence who will provide strong rim protection after a year with Diamond Valley. In the back court, Kilsyth have a couple of young prospects in Gabe Hadley and Josh Kunen who will get their chance to light it up from the three-point line while Owen Odigie will be a defensive pest who will also help the scoreboard tick along.
Due to NBL commitments, Kyle Adnam will not represent Kilsyth this season and after developing into one of the best point guards in the league, his loss will hurt the Cobras’ momentum heading into 2017. While they do have a number of exciting signings, they will come into this year without their seven top scorers from last season.
Watch out for:
Chris Patton. A graduate of the University of California-Riverside and having previous experience in SEABL with Dandenong, Patton’s work in the post will prove crucial to Kilsyth’s top four hopes. He averaged 16.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game when playing for the Rangers while shooting 57% and he is likely to get a number of close looks to the basket once again with oppositions having to cover both he and MacMillan in the paint. Those two forwards have also played and trained together at Melbourne United and that chemistry is sure to play a role early in the campaign.
With such a large turnover from 2016, it is difficult to gauge where the Cobras are at but their front court certainly looks capable of matching it with the best in the competition. They have a number of quality shooters but without Kyle Adnam as their floor general, they may struggle in the opening weeks. That is a task for new coach Justin Schueller but if he can pull them together quickly enough, Kilsyth should compete for a finals spot after missing out in 2016.
Top Four- East Conference
Steph Cumming, Jasmine Gill, Rosie Moult, Paige Anderson.
Emily Fryters, Genna Ogier, Emily van Poppel, Sarah Parsons, Jordyn O’Shea, Chantella Perera, Jenna Verhoef-Jenkins, Caragh Spicer, Brittany Renton, Brooke McGurgan, Brittany Miller, Taylah Black.
Angela Beadle (import), Maddie Garrick, Breanna McKenzie, Grace Moxey.
As with the men’s side, Kilsyth hit the road for their first four games including clashes with conference rivals Nunawading and Canberra. While it allows them to have a nice home stand to finish the regular season, they also play just four games in the last four rounds.
Sarah Parsons has made a comeback after announcing her retirement following the 2015 Grand Final and she follows a number of re-signings, 12 to be exact. 2016’s Defensive Player of the Year, Emily Fryters, is also back to hold down the fort in the paint while the experience of Chantella Perera will be crucial in maintaining the tempo on the floor alongside guard Jordyn O’Shea who shone in last year’s Grand Final with 12 points.
As they aim to avenge their consecutive Runners-Up results over the past two seasons, Kilsyth have lost a fair bit of firepower with their top three scorers from 2016 all departing. That includes Steph Cumming who has won the MVP in the past two seasons while averaging 22.3 points per game last year.
Watch out for:
Maddie Garrick. A player who can cover the scoring loss that left with Cumming is Garrick, a very experienced WNBL and SEABL player. While missing 2016, Garrick was the league MVP when she played with Frankston in 2015 and averaged 12.7 points per game as a member of the Boomers in the most recent WNBL campaign. Shooting 36% from the field and 37% from downtown as well as sitting second for steals in the club, Garrick is the complete package that will maintain Kilsyth as a serious offensive threat.
Coach Sam Woosnam is used to success with Kilsyth, taking them to the playoffs in three consecutive years as well as the Grand Final in 2015 and 2016. Winning on that last day of the season is her final obstacle and she looks to have a team capable of excelling in East Conference but do they have the offence to match it with the likes of Dandenong, who could once again stand in their way in the post-season?
Top Two, East Conference