With the start of the 2012 season under a month away, seabl.com.au takes a look at how each of the teams are shaping up in the lead up to the opening round.

Erica McMeniman, Abby Bishop, Eva Afeaki

Gemma Kerr, Rebekah O’Donnell, Brooke Nisi-Sumner, Emily Van Poppel, Hayley Moffatt, Jordyn O’Shea, Chantella Perera, Katina Mandylaris

Sarah Parsons (Knox), Kristen Barnes (WNBL)

Although three of their opening four games are against finalists from last year, Kilsyth have a decent schedule in the first half of the season, with only one of their next eight games against playoff teams. They also have a good run home, taking on 2011 finalists in only three of their last eleven games, and six of their eight games between rounds 11 and 17 are at home.

Although some stars have left, the “second-tier” group at the Lady Cobras is still extremely solid, and that could count for a lot in a year where other teams will have to deal with extra player movement due to Olympic commitments. With much the same group, Kilsyth can count stability as another asset, and while new head coach Peter Gay is a rookie, he was an assistant under the former coach so is familiar with the players, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

As good as it is to have Sarah Parsons return, she simply cannot make up for the loss of both Abby Bishop and Eva Afeaki. That duo were possibly the best frontcourt in the competition last year, and their absence means the Lady Cobras will have to find a new identity and new ways to score. Rookie coaches also usually take a while to find their feet and establish authority as well, so it may not be until med-season that we see the best of Kilsyth.

The Franchise:
It’s fantastic for Kilsyth to have such a talented and former junior return in the shape of Sarah Parsons, and she can be expected to carry a lot of responsibility as the star player. But Gemma Kerr has shown a kind of grass roots leadership over the years, doing all the small things that coaches love, and putting in the time around the organisation with youth camps and so on that has seen her become one of the faces of the Lady Cobras.

Needs to step up:
With the Kilsyth frontcourt severely depleted, Rebekah O’Donnell could find herself with a big increase in court time. O’Donnell dominated the D-League previously, and cannot let this opportunity to move up to championship level, possibly even as a starter, pass her by. Hayley Moffatt was also the Lady Cobras general on defence last year, and won a Player of the Week award. She too will also need to produce that kind of effort or better in 2012 for Kilsyth to again make the playoffs.

Watch out for…
Realising their lack of height, Kilsyth have recruited Sydney Flames bench player Kristen Barnes. Barnes stands 6’3” and could take a leading role in the post. She should have picked up plenty from her time at the Flames, being around players like Afeaki, Elyce Ironmonger, Amy Denson and under the tutelage of Karen Dalton.

Predicted Finish:
15 wins, 11 losses
3rd-5th, South Conference