2019/20 WNBL season review: Melbourne Boomers

IT was a solid season for the Melbourne Boomers who made it all the way to finals, but fell at the last hurdle against a rampaging University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. While they were strong at home winning seven out of 10 games, their ability to win on the road made them a formidable outfit notching up eight wins. Despite their best efforts it was simply not enough to take the final leap into the grand final.

Ladder: 3rd
Win-loss: 15-6

Before the beginning of the season, Boomer fans were up and about. Coming off a playoff run that ended in the semi finals, Melbourne added a whole lot of talent to the roster in hope to go one better and claim that all elusive premiership. Stella Beck was coming off a noteworthy NBL1 season collecting 10 rebounds a night, making her a handy inclusion in the side. Boomer fans were similarly eager to find out if Americans, Sophie Cunningham and Rachel Brewster, were up for the challenge and ready to guide their side to victory. Both coming out of American colleges, the WNBL would certainly be quite the adjustment. Fans were also looking forward to seeing the development of Antonia Farnworth, who had some much needed experience with the Hawks in the NBL1. Although, one question that was never answered all season was how would Paige Price go in an WNBL game. The six foot tall, 16 year old ‘prodigy’ got moved up to the senior level after a great season in the NBL1 with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. But the rising star only entered one game for limited minutes. With such a fresh roster, the Boomers did have to say goodbye to some key contributors such as former captain Jenna O’Hea, who took her talents to Southside, as well as Stephanie Talbot who departed for the Lightning. Richmond AFLW star Monique Conti left midway through the season to focus on her football club leaving a sizeable hole in their roster considering the impact she had off the bench. They also parted ways with Sarah Boothe and Jazmin Shelley, both in pursuit of playing overseas. 

After just coming short of playing in the grand final, the new faces added a certain level of confidence that the team could get over the line in 2020. Led by one of the most decorated and experienced coaches in WNBL history, Guy Molloy had a challenge on his hands. With O’Hea gone, the team had Madeleine Garrick to look up to as team captain. All season long, the Boomers were in good hands as the two-time WNBL champion could not be left open, draining 52 three pointers. Garrick was a major reason why the Boomers were first for steals in the league, swiping the ball off opponents 1.8 times a night, which was only tied with Cayla George. Ezi Magbegor, George and Cunningham would make up a stellar trio on offence, all averaging over 11 points a game. But Lindsay Allen would be the recognised star of this season. At only five foot eight, Allen starred averaging 14.8 points a night, the team’s most. The Boomers have plenty of depth, with more than one choice on the fast break, but this abundance of options can be costly at times with players looking to share the load rather than just take control. Renowned for their team like mentality it was sometimes their downfall, often over sharing the ball which resulted in turnovers. 

But the Boomer’s might just have their future superstar already.  At only 20-years-old, and standing at six foot four, Magbegor won Youth Player of the Year this season, for her second time. An award handed to the most outstanding young player in the league. The award has been given to the likes of four-time MVP, Lauren Jackson which if that is any indication, means big things ahead for Magbegor who is only at the beginning of her career. The scoring load was evenly shared between their stars as reflected in the league scoreboard with no player making it inside the top 10 points scorers for the season but that did not stop them from marching into finals and snatching one win off eventual premiers, the UC Capitals. Melbourne had a season for the ages and while the finals loss will linger it is fair to say that the Boomers are well and truly building towards something if they can keep that winning momentum going heading into season 2020/21. 

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