THE Albury-Wodonga Bandits have reached the halfway point of a SEABL campaign that has been, at best, frustratingly disappointing.
Sixth in the SEABL’s East conference, the Bandits have won just three of 13 games, with two of those wins coming against the boys of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence.
On paper, the Bandits looked to have built a solid and competitive team, but an average losing margin of 15.1 points is stark evidence the squad has not jelled as expected.
For the second straight year, the Border outfit has had to send import Momo Ntumba home; the Congolese pivot unable to recover from persistent knee soreness — he has been replaced by Lamar Mallory.
Highlights have been few, but a good win over Bendigo in round seven sparked hope there was a turnaround in the works. Alas, it has not yet been the case.
Riding a three-game losing streak and with a brutal road double against Nunawading and Dandenong this weekend, the Bandits are expected to fall further behind the conference’s playoff contenders.
There’s still time to salvage the season, but the team would have to go 7-6 just to get to 10 wins and with only five home games left, the Border outfit will need to find some road victories, something it has yet to do this year.
DEUCE BRISCOE = B+
13g, 41.6 FG%, 38.4 3PT%, 77.8 FT%, 3.5r, 2.9a, 22.0p
Eighth in the league in scoring. Can drift in and out of games but has had a solid first half of the season. Had an excellent May but has tapered off over the past two games and the Bandits need him to regain his scoring touch.
NICK PAYNE = B+
10g, 48.7 FG%, 25.0 3PT%, 78.1 FT%, 4.6r, 2.5a, 14.5p
Has shown there’s still plenty of life in his final season for the Bandits. After two years of frustrating starts to the season, the club’s games record holder has come out firing, upping his numbers across the board.
ALEX OPACIC = B-
12g, 45.4 FG%, 29.3 3PT%, 66.7 FT%, 5.4r, 0.8a, 12.3p
Last year’s club MVP winner has disappointed in his third season with the team. Scoring and rebounding numbers down on this time last year — which were down from the year before that. Must lift to give the Bandits some offensive help.
ALEX BOGART-KING = B-
12g, 59.3 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 55.6 FT%, 6.5r, 1.1a, 12.0p
Has shown flashes but has also struggled at times to adapt to higher level of competition. Generally takes high percentage shots but needs to improve free-throw numbers.
MOHAMED NTUMBA = C+
12g, 50.9 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 48.6 FT%, 8.2r, 1.5a, 10.7p
A shadow of his former dominant, intimidating self. Knee soreness worsened as season went on and ultimately made the decision to stop playing. His final game — a one-point, two-rebound performance against Ballarat — is not how fans will remember the 2012 championship colossus.
JACK DUCK = C+
13g, 35.2 FG%, 21.2 3PT%, 60.0 FT%, 3.4r, 1.2a, 6.2p
An enigma wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in a guard who the Bandits desperately need to start performing consistently. Has struggled with a knee injury and has been erratic from beyond the arc.
JACOB CINCURAK = C+
9g, 62.5 FG%, 60.0 3PT%, 0.0 FT%, 0.9r, 0.3a, 2.9p
Has only seen spot minutes but has not looked out of place. Genuine quickness and good size for a guard. Has hit 60 per cent of his triples. A bright future awaits.
DARCY HARDING = C
12g, 44.1 FG%, 42.9 3PT%, 83.3 FT%, 2.3r, 0.6a, 3.4p
Still yet to make the jump his talent demands. Like several teammates, his best games have come against the Centre of Excellence. Has shot the three-ball well but needs to develop consistency.
MATTHEW DE KOEYER = C
12g, 31.0 FG%, 25.0 3PT%, 42.9 FT%, 1.1r, 0.5a, 2.9p
Numbers ever-so-slightly down on last year but can still be relied on for mostly steady play off the bench. The veteran sharpshooter is closing in on 200 career games.
MICHAEL WATSON = C
10g, 18.2 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 25.0 FT%, 2.7r, 1.0a, 0.5p
Hasn’t had his usual defensive impact and has been hampered by a calf injury. Racked up 100 SEABL games for the Bandits last week against Geelong.
JOSH McKAY = C
10g, 57.1 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 0.0 FT%, 1.7r, 0.3a, 1.6p
Good potential, knows his limitations and generally doesn’t stray outside them. Probably won’t ever be a huge scorer but there’s a 10-year career for him if he wants it.
BRAD CHALMERS (COACH) = C+
3-10, 6th in SEABL East Conference
Revamped gameplan is a definite improvement but his team’s chemistry is a mess right now. To his credit, he is taking full responsibility and every defeat is like the proverbial death by a thousand cuts to him. Injury has forced him to swap imports for the second successive year.
IT has been a depressingly all-too-familiar season so far for the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits.
Injuries, heavy losses and surprise victories have all been the norm for the Border outfit in the past few seasons and this year has been no exception.
Before the season, coach James Ballinger said there needed to be an improvement on last year’s three-win campaign.
“I think expectations for us are simple, we have to get better,” the second-year coach said at the time. “We can’t afford to continuously be 2-24, 3-23, 6-20.
“We have to show significant improvement and that starts at the defensive end.”
If that is the standard Ballinger expected, then the Lady Bandits have fallen short.
An average losing margin of 30.1 points per game — with just one defeat by less than 10 points — says the Border club has gone backwards.
Emilee Harmon has been a shining light but fellow import Rachel Maenpaa has struggled mightily; throw in season-ending surgery to Maddy Plunkett and the Lady Bandits have been mostly bereft of offensive options.
Tough road games against Nunawading and Dandenong this weekend will sorely test the Lady Bandits’ depth again. The challenge from here is to somehow narrow that losing margin, if only to point to an improvement in the second half of the year.
EMILEE HARMON = A
11g, 55.6 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 56.4 FT%, 11.7r, 2.7a, 20.9p
Has been everything the club expected and more. Frightening to think how heavy the defeats might have been were it not for Harmon. A workhorse around the basket and inhales rebounds at both ends of the court. Only criticism can be average free-throw shooting.
LAUREN ANGEL = B
11g, 41.2 FG%, 31.3 3PT%, 100.0 FT%, 3.9r, 1.9a, 13.1p
Hampered by an ankle injury early but has been a solid contributor. Showed a nice shooting touch and always draws the tough defensive assignment.
MONTANA FARRAH-SEATON = B-
12g, 36.7 FG%, 39.6 3PT%, 90.0 FT%, 4.6r, 2.2a, 12.2p
Started strongly but has faded with a changed role within the offence since Harmon’s arrival. Plenty to offer but needs to step up offensively.
SOPHIE KLEEMAN = C+
12g, 24.0 FG%, 19.6 3PT%, 67.9 FT%, 2.8r, 2.5a, 6.3p
Comfortable handling the ball and is a good rebounder for a guard. But shooting form remains a concern and the teams need that to improve in the second half of the season.
TENILLE COLLINS = C+
11g, 30.8 FG%, 29.4 3PT%, 0.0 FT%, 1.6r, 1.8a, 5.5p
The club’s games record holder keeps on keeping on. Numbers almost identical to last year. Once again, steady playmaking and aggressive defence have been her hallmarks.
RACHEL MAENPAA = C
10g, 43.6 FG%, 28.6 3PT%, 57.1 FT%, 3.7r, 1.5a, 7.8p
Serious concerns. Was slowed by pre-season surgery and has yet to have a breakout game. Was scoreless in last week’s loss to Geelong with four turnovers. Stats this time last year: 17.3pts, 7.6rebs, 2.5asts.
LAVINIA KAVA = C
8g, 34.5 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 25.0 FT%, 2.1r, 0.1a, 2.6p
Arrived at the club on short notice following the season-ending injury to Maddy Plunkett and has been a decent — if undersized — back-up for Angel and Harmon.
ALEX TREZISE = C-
9g, 26.7 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 0.0 FT%, 0.9r, 0.7a, 0.9p
Back with the Lady Bandits after a year with Ballarat. Recently went past 100 SEABL games. Has been a bench contributor in seasons past but minutes have been somewhat sporadic.
BROOKE CINCURAK = C-
9g, 33.3 FG%, 20.0 3PT%, 50.0 FT%, 0.9r, 0.3a, 1.3p
Had eight points in season-opener against Launceston but minutes have regressed steadily from that point on. Went scoreless in six straight games.
CARLY McRAE = C-
9g, 5.6 FG%, 0.0 3PT%, 87.5 FT%, 2.3r, 0.9a, 1.0p
Another guard who has struggled, hitting just one shot from 18 attempts. Has genuine range and rebounds well but is yet to really make an impact.
JAMES BALLINGER (COACH) = C
1-11, 8th in SEABL East Conference
Once again dealt a savage blow with the loss of Plunkett to injury before the season even started. Has continued to preach patience but question marks remain over the club’s progress. Desperately needs to see an improvement in team’s consistency at both ends of the court.