WNBL Team Watch: UC Capitals
THE Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is just 44 days away from kicking off its 2021 season, and teams are starting to get a final look at what their rosters will look like. With only one winner per year, those who missed out on glory last year will be hungrier than ever to make amends. This is certainly the case for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals, who finished third at the conclusion of last year’s home-and-away season and were disappointingly upset and eliminated from the finals in the first week by the Melbourne Boomers.
This side had delivered some dominant performances throughout the season and looked likely to be the side to win it all at stages of the season. Having essentially owned the league from 2018 to early 2020, the Capitals were on the hunt for an elusive three-peat. They finished with nine wins and four losses throughout the regular season, and faced the fourth placed Melbourne Boomers, a side they finished above due to percentage. The Melbourne Boomers delivered a clinical performance in the do-or-die clash, and the main difference looked to be a pair of Opals in the Boomers lineup.
The loss of Keely Froling in the offseason is bound to sting, given she emerged as one of the competition’s surprise packets to average 9.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. What may hurt even more is loss of their strongest performer in 2020, with Maddison Rocci making her way to the Southside Flyers. Rocci was named team MVP for WNBL20 and ranked fourth in league MVP voting.
The side retained crucial players such as Jade Melbourne and co-captain Kelsey Griffin, who has been a staple of consistency throughout her time on the Capitals. The team was able to bring in Froling’s twin sister Alicia from the Bendigo Spirit, where she was unfortunately sidelined with a wrist injury. Despite the time off, the team is still thrilled to add the forward to the roster.
The side was also able to bring in their first import, signing Brittney Sykes of the Los Angeles Sparks. Drafted seventh overall in the 2017 draft, Sykes has enjoyed an excellent season in the WNBA, ranking fourth in the league for steals. The Capitals will be hoping the guard can bring the same type of defensive intensity to the upcoming WNBL season. Interestingly enough, Sykes said the biggest factor in coming to Australia was the concept of a relatively COVID-19 free competition.
The Capitals have shown in the past that they have the capability to be the best side in the league. They will be hopeful of winning another WNBL championship, a task they are more than capable of, despite the loss of personnel.
Picture credit: University of Canberra Capitals via Facebook