IN light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South Conference has been cancelled this year. As such, while Draft Central intended to do a preview on all teams leading up to the delayed start, it will instead be a team summary from last season and what they might look to improve on for 2021. Today’s edition looks at Melbourne Tigers’ womens side that showed some promise but could not maintain consistency throughout the year with a lot of close losses.
2019 in Review:
What went right:
- Competitive throughout with seven of the 12 losses being single-digit defeats
- Started solidly with a 5-4 record
- Blocks (4.5 per game, the best in the competition)
- Louella Tomlinson’s season
Melbourne had a mixed bag of a season that had little consistency, but there was still optimism for the future despite an 8-12 record. The Tigers only had five double-digit losses, indicating for the most part they were in the game. They started solidly with a 5-4 record from nine matches and with Louella Tomlinson on fire throughout the year, they were able to work hard defensively to remain in the contest. They were the top blocking side in the NBL1 competition, averaging 4.5 per game, which helped them win in low-scoring contests and remain close when losing. Young guns, Monique Conti and Kasey Burton also impressed throughout the season with strong performances and the highest volume points and almost a double-double respectively.
What went wrong:
- Struggled on the road with just three wins from nine games
- Won just three of the last eight games
- Scoring (72.9 points per game, ranked 15th overall and 41.8 per cent two-point accuracy and 70 per cent free-throw accuracy ranked 16th overall)
The season just simply did not quite go to plan for the Tigers, with scoring being the biggest issue. They averaged the 72.9 points per game which ranked 15th overall, and when they did get their chances, they averaged just 41.8 per cent and 70 per cent from the two point range and free-throw line which put them in the bottom three sides. While having Jenna O’Hea for longer than three games would have made a massive difference, the Tigers still struggled on the road with just three wins from nine games and finished the season in disappointing fashion with just three wins from eight games after being in finals contention mid-season.
The standout performer on the team, Tomlinson’s experience was vital in leading her side throughout the year. In the absence of O’Hea, Tomlinson did the bulk of the damage across the board, recording team-highs in rebounds (10.6), assists (5.1) and blocks (3.5). Playing in 17 of her team’s 20 games, Tomlinson finished the year with a double double average thanks to 16.3 points to accompany her double-figure rebounds total. Like her teammates, Tomlinson’s accuracy could improve, but by sheer weight of numbers she was a dominant performer in an inconsistent side.
The pocket rocket showed that another season of AFL Women’s football did not slow her round ball abilities as a key player in the Tigers outfit. Despite standing at sub-170cm, Conti still put up big numbers of 20.4 points, as well as 4.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.4 steals. What set her aside from her teammates was Conti’s ability to drill the long-range shot, with 33.8 per cent efficiency, and a team-high 53 total makes from outside the arc.
The versatile up-and-comer had a really promising season in terms of her ability to pad plenty of stats and have an impact across the court. She came close to a double double thanks to 9.8 points and 8.3 rebounds. Alongside that, Burton also picked up 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game, being the only member to start in every single game last season. She was another contributor from long-range with 25 successful makes, though coming at a 28.4 per cent accuracy. Teaming up with Conti, the pair has the ability to be a real damaging duo of the future.
The then 21-year-old managed to play in 16 games and start 10 of those, stepping up with an increased role than what might have been initially expected. In that time she produced an average of 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game and a solid all-round performance. Her shooting accuracy could improve with just 37.4 per cent from two-point range and two from 23 when it came to three-point range. Her experience from being a starter so often will give her confidence going into 2021.
Christmas list for 2021:
Another shooter or two. The Tigers had a clear deficiency in the scoring department, certainly in terms of both volume and accuracy. Throwing in an additional player who can average double-figure points would be a huge acquisition, and getting someone of O’Hea’s quality to play for a full season could be the difference between finals or not.
The Melbourne Tigers have plenty to work on for the future with a number of areas that could improve for 2021. They have a good core of players and some really talented youth prospects coming through the ranks who could be set for more court time in the season ahead. While they need to tweak their ability to score, the Tigers were good at stopping shots, and had plenty of reasons to be pleased with aspects of the way they played.