At the conclusion of the 2015 season, we look back on how the teams from Geelong fared.
GEELONG LADY SUPERCATS
Wins – 13
Losses – 9
Standing – 2nd East Conference
Post-Season Results – Lost to Dandenong (CF)
2013 result – 14 wins 10 losses, 4th East Conference
Making the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year and the Conference Final for the third time in four years marks another successful season for the Lady Supercats. A strong point guard combination of Alex Duck and Courtney Williamson combined for 20 points and 6.7 assists a game while the capabilities of Sara Blicavs and Tayla Roberts on the glass helped Geelong to the third highest rebound count. A 7-1 streak from Rounds 5-12 set up their playoff run.
Despite finishing second in the East Conference, Geelong’s 5-6 road record was the equal-worst for a playoff side. Their reliance on Blicavs was also exploited when national commitments kept her out of the team, as they were 8-3 with her on the court and 5-6 without her.
Taking her game to another level this year while also representing the Opals in an international series against Japan, Blicavs (19.1 points and 10.6 rebounds) was one of seven players to average a double-double. Her field goal percentage improved from 45% to 51%, the fourth best strike rate for players with 200+ attempts while her 2.3 steals per game was second best in the league.
With Blicavs likely to be available less and less as her stature on the international stage grows, Geelong need to look for a replacement in the front court that can power their offence while Roberts and Caitlin Shadbolt anchor their defence. Although they played without an import this year, that could be the direction they head towards in 2016.
Rosie Fadljevic has never been a big scorer in SEABL, averaging six points in 98 games but her presence in the front court as a 182cm power forward cuts an imposing figure. She did reach double-figures ten times during the year and if she can score at that rate consistently next season, her game will complement her already tireless efforts on the glass.
GRADE – 8/10
Wins – 16
Losses – 8
Standing – 2nd East Conference
Post-Season Results – lost to Albury/Wodonga (CF)
2013 result – 19 wins 7 losses, 2nd East Conference
One of the competition’s most successful teams in recent history, Geelong have now reached the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, moving on flawlessly from coach Jamie O’Loughlin’s departure. Winning four of their final five games, they held off Dandenong to earn a second chance in the finals while they recorded a six-game winning streak from Rounds 3-6. Kimmani Barrett made a successful return to the league, scoring 17.9 points per game and Eric Gaff once again earned his reputation as one of SEABL’s best big men with an average of 9.2 points and 10.1 rebounds.
A successful team in the regular season since 2008, Geelong have been caught short at the business end of the year too often recently. Their 4-5 record against fellow East Conference finalists this year was a bad omen and since 2012, they have lost three Conference Finals and a Preliminary Final.
Surpassing the 300 game milestone this year, Nathan Herbert has lost none of his offensive prowess, maintaining his 16 point average while shooting at 42% from the field. He reached double-figures in every game bar two and was the catalyst for a four-game winning streak mid-season when he averaged 22 points while hitting 12-15 from the three-point line.
A season of milestones saw Jamie Medved and Nick Owusu join Herbert in the 300 club while Ash Cannan and Gaff have 350+ games experience between them. These veterans have served Geelong well but the time is nearing for coach Leon O’Neill to make some tough decisions as he searches for the missing ingredient to get Geelong past the Conference Final stage.
Following in the footsteps of Herbert, shooting guard Joel Smith starred in his opening game with 14 points against Albury-Wodonga but he played just four more matches for the season. At 20 years of age by the time next season rolls around, a consistent SEABL season could see him take the reins in the back court as the Supercats look to their youth to continue their success.