Nunawading will be aiming to maintain the form that has seen both teams reach the playoffs six out of the past seven seasons.
Rob Linton, Mark Breda, Nathan Wilson.
Costas Hronopoulos, Simon Conn, Shane McDonald, Ambros Eugster, Jesse Caspersz, Andrew Cassin, Michael Cassin, Matt O’Hea, Andrew Steele, Jonathon Cooke.
Jack Saunders, Dyson King-Hawea, Tom Wright, Dain Swetalla (import), Daniel Baxter.
The Spectres will help to shape what is looking like a very tight East Conference early as they face Albury/Wodonga and Kilsyth (twice) prior to Round 5. May looms as the make or break month for Nunawading as they play seven games in 22 days including four games from May 20-27 (three of which come on the road).
Nunawading have poached a couple of handy pick-ups from other teams with Frankston’s Dain Swetalla and Hobart’s Tom Wright joining them in 2017. The Wright addition will be a great benefit to Shane McDonald and together they shape a very dangerous back court. Aside from those newcomers, the Spectres have retained a majority of their list with the ever-reliable Simon Conn returning alongside experienced players like Matt O’Hea, Jesse Caspersz and Jon Cooke.
Nunawading look to have a pretty well-rounded roster and will once again be led the duo of McDonald and Conn. However, that only carried them to the Semi-Final last year and the Spectres missed the playoffs entirely in 2015 so the question remains whether the club has put together a list that can take them all the way this season, while they will also have to fight their way through a tough East Conference.
Watch out for:
Dain Swetalla. Struggling with injuries for his time in SEABL, Swetalla played 22 games with Frankston in 2016 and averaged a double-double of 12 points and ten rebounds. If he can stay injury-free this year, he will be the perfect partner for Conn who will be able to continue his mid-range game while the newcomer battles for boards closer to the rim. His defence at the other end of the floor will also be critical to Nunawading’s chances.
One of the more successful teams in recent history, the Spectres face a tough road to the playoffs in the East Conference as they must contend with the likes of Geelong, Mt. Gambier and Kilsyth. Thanks to their off-season additions, they should be good enough to match it with them though and if Conn can sync with Swetalla and Wright with McDonald, a deep run into August is a real possibility.
Top Two- East Conference
Bec Cole, Amy Kame, Taylah Simmons, Chloe Molloy, Emilee Harmon, Hanna Zavecz.
Ali Drennan, Jacqui Trotto, Marena Whittle, Brittany Wunhym.
Georgia Sjodin, Georgia Stirton, Rebecca Eddy, Saraid Taylor, Sherry Glennie, Keeley Frawley, Sarah Slater, Anita Brown (import), Megan Kritscher (import).
Nunawading will be keen to have a strong first half of the year as the schedule is not kind to them following the Queen’s Birthday break with five of their last eight games coming on the road. However, they will face just one back-to-back during that time.
A lot of Nunawading’s season will depend on how their imports perform but the wraps on both Anita Brown and Megan Kritscher are high. Brown is a scorer for the University of Akron who has a strong mid and long-range game as well as a sound defensive game on the perimeter while Kritscher offers rim protection and experience across Europe. Building for the future, the likes of Brittany Wunhym, Jacquie Trotto and Ali Drennan are players that Nunawading are looking to mould into the base for the next few years.
Wunhym is the team’s most experienced SEABL player with just 29 games while they will not have five of their best six scorers from last season including Bec Cole who has headed to Big V. At the helm, Scott Carey looks to have his work cut out for him this year to keep Nunawading’s streak of six straight playoff appearances alive.
Watch out for:
Marena Whittle. Arriving to the side late last year, Whittle played a major role in the Spectres run to the finals as she averaged 14 points and 8.5 rebounds across 11 games. She recorded four double-doubles and was just as menacing at the defensive end, collecting 23 steals at an average of 2.1 which would have been good for first in the league.
Nunawading are a prideful team and when the threat of missing the playoffs loomed large last year, they found an extra gear to push towards and win a final. If their imports can click and Whittle carries her form over from the end of 2016, they will once again feature in the post-season with Kilsyth and Geelong looking like their only real competitors. However, improved sides such as Canberra and the new Sydney Uni Sparks will be hot on their tails to replace Nunawading’s usual spot in the top four.
Top Four, East Conference