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 Dandenong Rangers womens side that had a season of two halves.
2019 in Review:
What went right:
- First half of the season, went 9-1
- Rebecca Cole’s season
- Clean (10.2 turnovers per game the least in the competition)
- Free-throws (78.2 per cent accuracy, ranked third overall)
- Blocks (3.8 per game, ranked third overall)
- Steals (10.1 per game, the best in the competition)
The Rangers’ season might have ended in the first week of finals, but the Dandenong-based side can look back and see a lot more positives than negatives from the season. They won nine of the first 10 games and at one stage looked like a clear title threat, with only a low-scoring 14 point loss to Melbourne in May ruining an otherwise perfect start to the season. Despite what occurred in the second half of the season, the Rangers had a number of statistical areas that shone through and will be areas they can continue to build on next season. They were the top side when it came to most steals and least turnovers, showing just how clean the side was in transition and when opting to use the ball. They also ranked in the top three for free-throw accuracy and blocks per game, and Rebecca Cole‘s season was outstanding with the star talent making the All-Star Five at the end of the season.
What went wrong:
- Second half of the season, went 2-8
- Offensive rebounds (8.3 per game, the worst in the competition)
- Assists (14.5 per game, ranked 16th overall)
After such a promising start to the season, the Rangers fell into a hole they could not quite get out of, dropping eight of the last 10 games of the regular season to only just sneak into finals having all but seemingly locked up a spot midway through the year. In such a tight competition, the Rangers were both benefited (remaining in contention) but hindered (many teams in the finals race) by it. They struggled in both assists and offensive rebounds, often going it alone or relying on their shooting to get the job done. Working on their offensive areas to provide more avenues to score will certainly help, but in the first half of the season they were averaging 79.4 points per game outside the one loss, and that dropped to 67.1 points in the second half of the season.
One of the stars of the season, and a point-scoring machine. Cole averaged 26.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 steals to lead her side in all statistical areas bar rebounds. It was a huge year from the talented WNBL player who also averaged 81.1 per cent from the free-throw line and 46.2 per cent from the field. She was far from alone when it came to contributors, but she was hard to stop when on court. It was unfortunate for the Rangers and the general basketball public to only see her in 12 games, but it showed just how good her season was to make the All-Star Five off less minutes.
The American import stood up in the absence of Cole, playing each of the 21 games and averaging almost a double-double per game. Planeta averaged a team-high 9.5 rebounds per match to go with her 18.3 points per game, and also filled the other areas with 1.9 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. She averaged greater than 50 per cent from the field, and was 87.3 per cent from the free-throw line.
The other Rangers player who averaged double-figure points, Clydesdale provided the perfect support to Cole, as she averaged an almost-identical stat line outside of points. She still managed the 15.5 points per game, but had the 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals, and was able to take the court in 20 of the 21 matches. Her three-point shooting was elite at 39.2 per cent, and she also averaged 75 per cent from the line.
The young gun has committed to UCLA and showed in her time on court with the Rangers how bright of a future she has in the sport. She averaged 4.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game in 18.1 minutes per game, starting in two of 13 matches. One of five teenagers named on the list at the start of the season, the then 17-year-old was able to stand up against more experienced opponents and win plenty of boards. At 190cm, Anstey will be one to watch in the NCAA.
Christmas list for 2021:
A circuit breaker. The Rangers were absolutely firing in the first half of the season, but then could not get themselves out of their second half rut. If they had another player or two who could just provide that fresh look to be a circuit breaker and arrest the sliding win-loss ratio, then they could well have gone deep in 2019. They have the players to make a title challenge, it will be whether they can get them on court for long enough, and if they do, then watch out.
The Dandenong Rangers might have fallen away in the second half of the season, but their first half gave a good enough indication that they were more than capable of matching it with the best sides. Always likely to be a successful outfit, a few tweaks here or there will put them in a good position to be a real contender come 2021.