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 Kilsyth Cobras who claimed the inaugural NBL1 title in a sensational year.
2019 in Review:
Finished: 4th (Premiers)
What went right:
- Won the title – nothing better than that
- Won 16 of their last 18 games
- Lauren Nicholson’s season
- Clean (10.9 turnovers per game the second least overall)
- Assists (19.8 per game, fourth overall)
- Rebounds (41.5 per game, second overall)
It was a dream season after a shaky start with the Cobras taking out the 2019 NBL title by winning 16 of the 18 last games. It was a remarkable turnaround from the opening few weeks and really showed what they were capable of. Statistically the Cobras were impressive across the board, but the standout stats were their ball-handling and rebounding. Ranked second overall in total rebounds with 41.5 per game, and fourth overall in assists (19.8 per game), they were able to win the ball defensively and use it well in transition. Additionally, the Cobras did not turnover the ball often, with just 10.9 turnovers per game which ranked as the second least overall. Furthermore, Lauren Nicholson led the way with a huge season that saw her rewarded with All-Star honours, and was a catalyst for the Cobras charge to the title from fourth on the table.
What went wrong:
- Not much
- Started the season with three losses in the first four games
- Only scored more than 100 points once
You can hardly fault a season where a team wins a title and clearly in the end you could not say anything went ‘wrong’ as such. But the areas that could have gone better were the start and potentially averaging more points per game, but both proved not to be an issue by season’s end. The Cobras looked in trouble after five matches, sitting 1-4. They turned it around after that and while they only scored more than 100 once (against Hobart), they restricted their opponents to 70 points or more on all bar two occasions in the regular season.
Only 25-years-old entering the season, Nicholson is in the prime of her career and it showed on the court this season with a remarkable year. She averaged 25.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game, playing in 20 of a possible 23 games for the season. It was even more impressive that she stepped up in the finals series, guiding her team to victory with plenty of talent alongside her. Averaging 54.4 per cent from the field, 36.9 per cent from three-point range and 83 per cent from the line, it is easy to see why she earned All-Star honours.
Ranking second overall in points, Wischer averaged 13.2 per game to go with 7.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1,7 steals per match. She was most effective from inside the arc with 47.9 per cent efficiency, though she was still solid from outside the arc with a 30.8 per cent accuracy. Playing every game of the season, Wischer took to the court 26.4 minutes per game as she was one of six players to average more than 20 minutes a match in an impressive season.
The premier rebounder of the team came close to averaging a double-double from her 21 games. In 24.4 minutes per match, Booth averaged 12.0 points and 9.8 rebounds – 3.5 offensive – to lead the team in both rebounding categories. She also picked up 2.4 assists per game and almost a block as well, providing good service from the field with 50.2 per cent efficiency. The 28-year-old center used her strong frame to advantage each game.
The young gun in the side and one who not only played her part but was a clear standout in the starting team, averaging 29.4 minutes from every game. It might be easy to forget Tessari was just 20-years-old entering the season such was her impact on the year, but she averaged 10.5 points, 3.6 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Tessari is one to watch for the future as she continues to develop alongside experienced names.
Christmas list for 2021:
List retention. Any side that wins a title it is crucial to try and keep the team together and the Cobras are unlike most teams. They relied on a real balanced approach without a couple of players doing all the heavy lifting. Instead, with six players averaging more than 20 minutes and another three reaching double-figure minutes per match, they rotated players well and it proved effective.
The Kilsyth Cobras might have had a rocky beginning to 2019, but by year’s end were the premier team in the competition. Form is everything, and with 16 wins from 18 games to cap off a year after a 1-4 start, that is some kind of momentum. With the confidence gained from 2019, if the Cobras can remain the same and maybe even strengthen their list, then there is no reason Kilsyth cannot challenge for back-to-back titles – even if they are two years apart.