At the conclusion of the 2015 season, we look back on how the teams from Canberra fared.
CANBERRA CAPITALS ACADEMY
Wins – 4
Losses – 18
Standing – 6th East Conference
2014 result – 4 wins 20 losses, 7th South Conference
In a bumper year for the shooting forward, Kristen Langhorn improved her career average of 3.5 points to 12.6 a game, her rebound numbers from 1.8 to 5.4 and her assist numbers from .2 to 1.5. Joining the team in Round 7, Julia Forster recorded 12 double-doubles in 14 games including a 21-point, 23-rebound performance against Kilsyth when she played every minute of an overtime classic. Canberra won that game, their best victory of the year while an early win over Launceston was also impressive.
Their two best players, Talbot and Forster, combined for just 24 games with Forster arriving after Canberra were out of playoff contention while WNBL Champion Jess Bibby suited up only twice. They owned the third worst defence and second worst offence, turning the ball over 20.5 times a match with even Talbot (5.9 turnovers) and Forster (5.1) succumbing to the pressure. A 37-119 shellacking at the hands of Nunawading was a low-point.
Although Talbot played just ten matches for the year, she made the All-SEABL team and was present for three of Canberra’s four wins while averaging 19 points and 10.6 rebounds. Her turnover numbers were high but she balanced that with 4.3 assists and 3.7 steals which would have placed her first in the league had she played enough games.
Before the season started, Canberra had a solid line-up with the experience of Bibby and the emerging star in Talbot combining with a plethora of local talent. However, if these players cannot stick around for a season, they are of little use to a team that has never seen finals in their short four-year history. Putting the ball in the basket was also an issue at times for Canberra but retaining a player like Sarah McAppion who knows the system and is a quality offensive player will assist their endeavours in 2016.
Ellie Junod could take a similar step to Langhorn’s development this season and help boost Canberra’s front court stocks without needing to rely on the likes of Talbot and Forster. Standing at 180cm, Junod reached double-figures in ten of 15 games despite her field goal percentage dropping from 42% to 35%. If she can bump that conversion rate back up, expect more performances like her 20-point effort against Hobart from Round 9.
GRADE – 3/10
Wins – 8
Losses – 16
Standing – 7th East Conference
2014 result – 10 wins 16 losses, 7th South Conference
Canberra’s growing maturity was on show as they won tight encounters against Dandenong twice (by two points and a point), N-W Tasmania (one point), Albury-Wodonga (two points), Brisbane (three points) and Sandringham (three points). Nnaebuka Anyaorah fulfilled his role as import with a team-high 19.2 points at 44% while he, alongside Ben Allen and Dan Joyce, led the Gunners to the fifth best three-point shooting percentage in the competition at 35%.
After making progress through the last few seasons towards a playoff berth, Canberra will be disappointed to record two less wins than last season while finishing on the bottom of the East Conference. Despite some close victories against finalists, they had a 4-6 record against non-playoff teams. Their on-ball work was also a concern, recording a league-low 3.5 steals per game while losing the ball 6.3 times, the second highest tally.
Allen was a quality pick-up in the off-season, finishing third for rebounds with 10.6 a game to go along with 17 points. He pulled defenders away from the paint with his 38% shooting from beyond the arc and 44% field goal shooting while his presence around the defensive rim was a constant concern for oppositions and led him to 17 blocks for the year.
Although they have now missed the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, the likes of Allen coming across to Canberra is a good sign for the future as they aim for one or two more big signings to make them a legitimate threat in 2016. A quality point guard would also be a big step forward as the Gunners top five leaders in assists all came from the front court this year.
Luke Jamieson is just 21 but has already plied his trade with the Illawarra Hawks as well as the Gunners. He was the highlight of Canberra’s defence, averaging just under a block while playing only 25 minutes per game. Seven matches in double-figures also proved his ability at the offensive end and he will only become more crafty as his game develops.