Before the start of the 2015/16 Wattle Valley WNBL season, take a look at how the Melbourne Boomers are shaping up.

Melbourne Boomers

Last Year: 11-11, sixth

Departed: Rebecca Allen, Kelly Bowen, Natalie Burton, Lucy Dawson, Mikaela Dickson, Ella Hellessey, Rachel Jarry, Jess May, Shannon Perrett, Amelia Todhunter.

Returning: Rebecca Cole, Shanae Greaves, Tess Madgen, Olivia Thompson

Newcomers: Kasey Burton, Lucy Cochrane, Grace Collett, Maddie Garrick, Alice Kunek, Chloe Molloy, Genna Ogier, Kate Oliver, Elyse Penaluna, Tayla Roberts, Maddie Rocci, Brittany Smart, Ashleigh Stewart, Courtenay Wragg.

Open with two home games against Adelaide and Perth respectively, while finishing the regular season with three at home leading into a potential finals campaign. Encounter a tough stretch around the Christmas/New Year period, with five consecutive games against finalists from the 2014/15 season; Sydney Uni and Dandenong twice, along with Bendigo once.

Despite losing a number of players in the off-season, the Boomers have also added plenty of elite talent, which can even exceed the output from last year’s group. The additions of Opals squad members Maddie Garrick, Alice Kunek and Elyse Penaluna will not just add star power to the roster, but also some depth as they team up with import Brittany Smart who was SEABL’s leading scorer in 2015, Opal Tess Madgen and athletic forward Olivia Thompson.

With so many changes it may take some time for team chemistry to build, especially as the starting group will likely involve four new starters. After a breakout year in 2014/15 Rebecca Cole will enter the picture later in the season as she recovers from an ACL knee injury- a huge loss for the Boomers after finishing third in scoring, second in assists and second in steals for them last season.

Watch out for…
After a quiet year with the Spirit in 2014/15, Garrick’s move to Melbourne will provide her with a huge opportunity for a breakout year. Identified as a player of the future with her inclusion in the Opals squad for the Oceania series, Garrick will no doubt improve on last season’s numbers of 4.5 points and 1.7 rebounds per game.

Predicted Finish:
The Boomers finished sixth last year and then lost key player Rebecca Allen to the Stars, but they’ve had a great off-season recruiting Garrick, Elyse Penaluna, Alice Kunek and Brittany Smart. Expect the team to gel quickly under the tutelage of Guy Molloy, and force their way back into the finals after a year’s absence.