2010 Results: 14 wins, 8 losses, 7th overall

2010 Playoffs: N/A

2011 Regular Season: 18 wins, 6 losses, 3rd overall

2011 Post- Season: def Nunawading (EF), def Bendigo (SF), lost to Knox (PF)

Positives from this year:

Kilsyth improved hugely this year. The Lady Cobras had four more wins than in 2010, and they made it back to the post-season for the first time in three seasons. Kilsyth were one of only three sides to defeat eventual champion Dandenong, and they had a nine game winning streak after their opening round loss. The Lady Cobras smashed their pre-season prediction of only 11 wins, and they did not lose to a side outside the top six. Defence became their trademark, and they conceded the equal fewest points per game (58), and they also gave up the equal third-least turnovers per game (16).

Kilsyth’s recruiting was as good as, if not better than Knox’s and Dandenong’s, landing Opal Abby Bishop, and WNBL stars Eva Afeaki and Chantella Perera. Bishop was in the top ten for scoring and top three for rebounds, while Afeaki was in the top 5 for rebounds ant top ten for blocks. Hayley Moffatt was the quiet achiever for the Lady Cobras, taking the Player of the Week award in round 11.

Negatives from this year:

Not having your key player available for the most important match of the year is unfortunate, and Kilsyth will be left wondering what might have been if Bishop had played in that Preliminary Final loss to Knox. The Lady Cobras dropped back-to-back games over rounds 9 and 10, and the loss to Nunawading in round 18 was the only time they dropped a game to a team outside the top 4.

The announcement that coach Cheryl Chambers will not be at the helm next year is a huge loss. Chambers is one the best women’s coaches in the country and she had the team moving in the right direction and playing outstanding, defensively-minded basketball. Gemma Kerr’s numbers were down compared to her season averages, although coach Chambers indicated she might have been ill for parts of the season. Erica McMeniman’s numbers were also down and she has indicated that she may take a year off from basketball in 2012.

Possible Departures:

Cheryl Chambers absence could lead to a landslide of departures given her connections with some of the players she recruited. Chambers was also an assistant at Dandenong in the WNBL last year where Abby Bishop and Chantella Perera both played, and their return seems doubtful sans Chambers. Hopefully Kilsyth can hold onto Eva Afeaki because she was simply fantastic and carried the side when Bishop was away. As suggested, Erica McMeniman has now played over 250 games, and could take some time off or move into different colours to refresh her career. If nothing else, Kilsyth has to work extra hard to keep Hayley Moffatt. She had an outstanding year, was often unheralded for her efforts, and could be the target of other clubs looking for someone with her work ethic.

Next Year:

Type of players needed:

Assuming there are no changes, Kilsyth probably don’t need to change much. Perhaps they could do with a more influential point guard, but Jordyn O’Shea was still very serviceable this year. But in a worse case scenario, the Lady Cobras will need to rebuild from scratch, starting with a power forward, a center, and a two guard.

Likely Improvement:

Rebekka O’Donnell can and should be ready to take on a starters roll. She was often the first-choice substitution to come in when Bishop or Afeaki were rested this season. If Gemma Kerr is fit, she can be more influential either off the bench or starting. Sam Drescher averaged 14.2 points & 11.2 rebounds in D-League and was also the D-League MVP and an All-Star, so she needs to be tried at the top level. However, she has returned to Darwin in the off-season, so it’s unknown if she will return to Melbourne for the SEABL season.

Finals next year?

A lot of variables make it difficult to predict if Kilsyth will make it back to the finals. Any team with Abby Bishop and Afeaki are instant contenders, but without them, the Lady Cobras will have to recruit exceptionally well to get back to the top 6.

Overall Grade: 8.5 out of 10