FOR a team that has not won a WNBL championship in almost a decade, the Melbourne Boomers have an abundance of momentum, as the league gets ready to compete in a season that will be characterised as a sprint to the finish – something the Boomers’ roster are well equipped to do.
Boomers head coach Guy Molloy has once again bestowed his trust in co-captains Cayla George and Maddie Garrick to lead his side out over the next six weeks, given their experience and overall class. Leading the frontcourt by example, George remains one of the premiere centers in the competition, due to her deceptively quick hands and never-ending endurance. This bodes well for her when sizing up against taller opponents and it was the main factor for George’s season averages (14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists) last season.
On the flipside, Garrick headlines a talented backcourt that has essentially remained the same over the offseason period, despite the loss of import guard Lindsay Allen. Garrick will look to bolster her squad as she looks to be fully recovered for Round 1 next week after undergoing ankle surgery roughly three months ago. She is also coming off a solid 2019/20 campaign putting up totals of 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists each time she hit the floor.
A major talking point for defences in the upcoming season, however, is the rapid development of 21-year-old Ezi Magbegor. Not only has Magbegor shocked the Australian basketball community after winning a WNBL title in her rookie season with the Seattle Storm, but the young gun bears an unshakeable attitude to self-improvement. An attitude that saw her maintain an average of 13 points, 6.6 rebounds and an assist and a half last season.
Not only do the Boomers have a familiar face returning to their ranks, but also a potential new addition to their leadership council, with 30-year-old Tess Madgen returning to the Victorian side after four seasons away overseas in Europe and up in Queensland with the Townsville Fire.
Looking to the supporting cast, a large part of Molloy’s squad are numerous New Zealand Tall Ferns, and given Molloy’s recent appointment to the New Zealand International side’s top coaching job, he will be killing two birds with one stone. The Tall-Ferns included in the side are returning players Kalani Purcell (4.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists), Toni Farnsworth (2.7 points and 1.4 rebounds), Penina Davidson (2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds), Stella Beck (5.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.0 assist) and most recently Ashleigh Karaitiana.
Remaining individuals looking to stand out over the next six weeks are former Dandenong Ranger, Rachel Antoniadou, and Izzy Wright, who returns to the WNBL after a few years away from the court, but still competing in the NBL1 during the meantime co-captaining the Nunawading Spectres.
Rounding out the 12-player side for the Boomers is Rachel Brewster, who will prepare for her second season as a Development Player with the club following previous stints at the Spectres as well, while the second of the two development players for Melbourne is 2012 WNBL champion, Hope Terdich.
Season Opener for the Melbourne Boomers – Thursday November 12th – 7:00pm (AEDT) vs Sydney University Flames @ Townsville Stadium, Townsville