At the conclusion of the 2015 season, we look back on how the teams from Dandenong fared.
DANDENONG RANGERS WOMEN
Wins – 19
Losses – 3
Standing – 1st East Conference
Post-Season Results – Champions
2013 result – 21 wins 3 losses, 1st East Conference
A fourth Grand Final win in six years has established this Dandenong Rangers side as possibly the greatest of all time with Amelia Todhunter, Alison Downie, Faith Probst, Clare Papavs, Amanda Hobba and coach Larissa Anderson present for all four. The Rangers finished 14-0 against conference rivals and 13-1 at home. Aimie Clydesdale (13.4 points, two assists) stepped up when Todhunter suffered a knee injury during the regular season while the 12-year veteran Clare Papavs had her highest point production since 2008 with 16.6 points per game.
Dandenong’s only breakdown in defence came at the perimeter as they allowed the equal-highest three-point percentage at 34%. That weakness was exploited by Kilsyth in the Grand Final as they out-scored the Rangers by 15 from beyond the arc.
Jacinta Kennedy’s outstanding form throughout this season has signalled a return to the WNBL. She led the team in scoring (18.5 points) and rebounds (9.4) with 12 double-doubles while shooting 54% from the field and 72% from the free-throw line. Her commanding performance in the paint helped Dandenong to be the best offensive rebounding team in the competition.
With WNBL commitments, it is unclear at this stage whether Coach of the Year Anderson will return next season. Her performance in finals and ability to steel the Rangers for another Championship tilt cannot be underestimated. Probst has already announced her retirement but the drop-off of other players should not be too severe as Dandenong look to maintain their perfect mix of veterans and youth.
Playing as back-up to the likes of Kennedy and Papavs, Amanda Meinking will have received some important teachings over the year which she will look to implement next season. The 19-year old stands at 192cm and has shot at 60% in her SEABL career, already showcasing a strong ability to seal off a position under the rim.
GRADE – 10/10
DANDENONG RANGERS MEN
Wins – 15
Losses – 9
Standing – 3rd East Conference
Post-Season Results – lost to Geelong (PF)
2013 result – 19 wins 7 losses, 3rd East Conference
Stacking their front court pre-season, the Rangers controlled the paint as the fourth best rebounding team in the league. Daequon Montreal won the league MVP with 23.9 points and 8.1 rebounds while averaging 30 in his final six games. Under coach Darren Perry, Dandenong has now made five straight finals appearances since his arrival in 2011.
Chuck Long struggled to find his place in that busy front-court, finishing with his lowest point and rebound count for his career while he failed to hit double-figures ten times despite playing 25+ minutes a night. Andrew Harms also played a lone hand in the back-court with the inexperienced Matt Owies and Jack Saunders needing another season to become damaging players.
Off the back of an NBL season with the newly-named Melbourne United, Lucas Walker brought his trademark hops back to SEABL, collecting 15.5 points and 9.7 boards a game. He flirted with triple-doubles on a few occasions, including 10 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists against Geelong early in the year before finishing with ten double-doubles. A shooting stroke which saw him hit 34 three-pointers at 38% was a handy addition to a team that sometimes became bogged down in the paint.
The balance may not have been present this season between the front and back courts but a year’s worth of experience for their guards will help even that out for 2016. That means the main task of this off-season is to maintain their list including the likes of Walker and Chris Patton whose schedules will be full due to NBL commitments as well as Montreal who is sure to be scouted by several different leagues.
There are few better leaders in the SEABL to ply your trade under than Harms and he will surely help develop the game of Owies. Turning 18 at the start of the season, the point guard showed his ability to score with five double-figure games for the year while also showing a proclivity to get after the rebounds. That hungry attitude will serve Owies well although rumours of a move to Hawaii could hamper the Rangers plans.