Roy Ward on the Canberra Capitals Academy, plus this week’s big news, plays and the media wrap-up.
THE theory is a solid one.
Take the bench players from the University of Canberra Capitals WNBL side, mix them with some talented ACT kids and maybe a couple of outsiders to form a competitive SEABL side.
After all, Dandenong Rangers have fielded strong SEABL sides for years based on a similar format plus their accomplished junior program.
But four years into the Canberra Capitals Academy team and coach Greg Evans admits the foundations for the team are still being laid.
“Looking at our player milestones – no one has played more than 20 games, that’s how young this program is,” Evans said.
“We have a good connection with the Capitals but our player turnover has been astronomical.
“We are trying this year to build a platform and that will start with young players who can mature with the team.”
The Capitals made a slow start to their offseason when organising and assembling the team which put the group behind others in the early rounds.
But after an 80-63 win over Sandringham Sabres on Sunday, preceded by a knife-edge 73-70 loss to Ballarat Rush on Saturday night – Evans says his side is starting to come together nicely.
“In that Ballarat game we were up six with three minutes to go then Ballarat wore us down,” Evans said.
“We were missing a couple of girls who couldn’t travel for the Saturday game – if we had one more player in the rotation I think we would have got that game.
“We just have a very, very young group and we didn’t have that maturity down the stretch – when Sunday came around I was worried the girls might be down but they came out and played angry.
“That was a good sign – to see us make those behavioural changes and learn to do things better on court.”
The Capitals did get lucky when rising WNBL star Stephanie Talbot needed somewhere to play in the offseason and stayed in Canberra with the academy.
Talbot had 33 points, 17 rebounds, four steals and three blocks against the Sabres and has dominated her other games.
In between Opals camps, Talbot has had some big nights although she will miss some games in the coming weeks after being selected for the Opals’ upcoming European tour.
“We were looking for players aged between 20-24 to fill our side and Steph just fell in our lap,” Evans admits.
“She has had some monster games so far, she can really stuff the stat sheet.”
Younger Capitals players like Alice Coddington and Sarah McAppion are also making the most of the court time available after sitting for large parts of the WNBL season.
Evans said the two rising ACT players would be key planks in the side for years to come.
“Coddington had a fantastic year in the WNBL and they gave her minutes early in the season while some players were out,” Evans said.
“She then went back to the bench but her experience has been fantastic for the group and she is more of a leader this season.
“McAppion has come along in leaps and bounds – she was averaging eight to nine points per game last season and now she is up around 14 despite giving away height to her opponents.
“Junod is getting back to her best after coming into the season with a minor injury.”
The Capitals are also close to introducing a US import to play in the power forward position with Evans staying tight-lipped on the players’ name but added she had played in Europe and US college basketball so would add much needed experience to the side while still being able to relate to her young teammates.
“I think we are still three to four weeks away from our best form but we are not far off now,” Evans said.
Great news out of Kilsyth this weekend with Lady Cobras coach Samantha Woosnam and partner Alex Vanrenen celebrating the birth of their baby girl Myah.
The Cobras’ Instagram page posted a picture of the happy family here. Picture: https://instagram.com/p/2hiZiapC-E/
SEABL stamp on Opals team
Opals coach Brendan Joyce named his squad for the team’s upcoming European tour last week and it had a sizeable number of SEABL players.
The team includes Sara Blicavs (Geelong), Katie Rae Ebzery (BA COE), Maddie Garrick (Frankston), Alice Kunek (Sandringham), Tessa Lavey (Bendigo), Elyse Penaluna (BA COE), Stephanie Talbot (Capitals Academy) and Kelly Wilson (Bendigo).
Suzy Batkovic, Natalie Burton, Laura Hodges and Belinda Snell round out the squad.
*University of Canberra Capitals Academy star Steph Talbot was on fire against Sandringham on Sunday with 33 points, 17 rebounds, four steals and three blocks – she added another 25 points, 12 rebounds and five steals against Ballarat on Saturday night.
*Dandenong Rangers forward Jacinta Kennedy continues to burn with 31 points and eight rebounds in her club’s in over Geelong.
*Geelong star Sara Blicavs was again on song for the Supercats with 25 points and 14 rebounds in their loss to the Rangers.
*Kilsyth’s Cassie Sant scored 27 points and grabbed 11 boards against Bendigo while Lady Braves guard Kelly Wilson scored 30 points in her club’s loss to Kilsyth playing all 40 minutes.
*Launceston’s Emilee Harmon led the way in the Tornadoes win over Hobart with 26 points in 27 minutes although Lady Chargers import Amy Kame had another impressive night with 28 points.
*Sandringham star Brittany Smart scored 29 points against the Capitals on Sunday.
*Frankston’s Kelly Bowen was a force against BA COE on Saturday night with 28 points in the Blues 60-51 loss.
*Geelong’s Alex Duck was nothing if not consistent over her side’s double-header with 20 points in both matches.
SEABL media links
*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@jarrodpotter) reports Rangers guard Rachel Antoniadou has signed with Florida State in US college basketball. Report: http://dandenong.starcommunity.com.au/journal/2015-05-04/seminoles-her-style/
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_whelan) reports on Ballarat Rush’s first win of the season. Story: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3069369/rush-earns-first-win-of-the-season/?cs=63
*Whelan also reports Ballarat basketball stadium expansion now awaits federal government funding. Report: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3072208/big-cash-wait/?cs=63
*Bendigo Advertiser’s Nathan Dole reports on the Braves game against Kilsyth with a picture gallery included. Report, pics:
*Hobart Mercury’s Simeon Thomas-Wilson reports on a tough weekend for the Chargers. Report: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/local-sport/hobart-chargers-and-lady-chargers-switch-off-in-key-moments/story-fnj92b0f-1227349485290
*The Advocate’s Jordan Abell reports Lauren Mansfield is playing at a high level this season in both the SEABL and local basketball. Report: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/3062020/mansfield-up-to-new-level/?cs=88
Roy Ward (@rpjward) is a freelance sports writer who has covered the NBA, NBL, WNBL, SEABL and Big V during his career. He will be filing weekly columns on the SEABL men’s and women’s competitions during this season. For feedback or suggestions send Roy a tweet or email him at email@example.com