SEABL SEMI PREVIEW - EAST CONFERENCE WOMEN
Dandenong Rangers (20-6) v Geelong Lady Supercats (18-8), Dandenong stadium, 5.30pm Saturday, August 18
The Rangers were motoring into the 2012 final series on a three game winning streak until they stumbled in a 12-point loss to Bendigo in their last game of the regular season. However, Dandenong has controlled both games against Geelong this season, winning most recently in Round 19 by a convincing twenty points.
The Lady Supercats are bringing the worst losing streak into the finals of any team, having dropped their last four matches by an average margin of 18 points. However, most of those losses came against strong opposition when the Supercats were weakened by injury, so that form line may only give some indication to their true position.
Dandenong: Steph Cumming is the star for Dandenong. Part of the triumphant 2011/12 WNBL team, she has continued on with another strong performance at the guard position. But Cumming has only just returned from a personal break, and may be well below top form going into the playoffs. Claire Papavs is one of the veterans of the side, passing 200 games earlier in the year. Formerly known as a defensive specialist, Papavs has steadily developed an all-round game in recent years and her ability to step up in big-time games cannot be underestimated.
Geelong: In both encounters with the Rangers, Deanna Smith has top scored for the Lady Supercats, averaging 20.0 points across their two games. Her ability to get to the free throw line is also a worry for Dandenong; she averages nearly 88% and gets at least 5 attempts up per game. Abby Schrader is a crucial part of the Supercats team, but hasn’t been able to find her rhythm against Dandenong, averaging just 5 points and 6 rebounds. Her stats for the season are close to double that however, so watch for her to have an impact early on Saturday night.
Dandenong: Faith Probst is the reigning defensive player of the year. However, she showcased her all-round game in Round 13 when she collected 7 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals against Geelong. She often sets the tone defensively, and she always leads by example. Look for her to take one of the big defensive assignments on Saturday night.
Geelong: In her second SEABL season, Candice Rogers is proving to be a revelation for the Lady Supercats. Averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds for the year, is accustomed to working close to the basket, yet can also stretch defences with her ability to shoot from the perimeter.
Key Match ups
Amelia Todhunter vs. Cortney Williamson
The point guard position has been where Dandenong has taken the advantage during their regular season match ups. Todhunter is +16 in points and +3 in assists despite Williamson having more assists overall for the year. Williamson now has two seasons experience under her belt, but finals experience is something else, and Dandenong should hold the advantage in this match up.
Deanna Smith vs. Clare Papavs
These two SEABL veterans always go head-to-head. And with a spot in the Conference Grand Final on the line, both small forwards will be playing big minutes. Smith leads the league in assists and is fifth for points scored, but the experience of Papavs means the Lady Supercat will have to earn every point she gets.
Previous Meetings This Year
Round 13: Dandenong 65 def Geelong 57 @ Dandenong
Round 19: Dandenong 68 def Geelong 48 @ Geelong
Even though Deanna Smith is the type of player who can win a game off her own back, Geelong have proven they are not just a one-trick pony with contributions coming across the team this year. However, the Lady Supercats have struggled to stay in touch in their previous meetings, and the balance and experience of the Rangers side will be too tough to overcome.
Prediction: Dandenong by 8