Women’s Basketball Observer Newsletter
Tuesday 30th March 2021
Game of the Week:
Ipswich Basketball Club 55 – 67 Nottingham Trent University WNBL D1 – 27/3/2021 – Ipswich VIDEO
Player of the Week:
Kennedy Leonard: 13-6-21 plus 8 steals for London Lions vs Caledonia Pride on Sunday.
SCORES 22/3/2021 – 28/3/2021
Manchester Met Mystics 68-95 London Lions 23/3/2021
Durham Palatinates 67-68 Cardiff Met Archers 24/3/2021
Caledonia Pride 75-92 Nottingham Wildcats 24/3/2021
Sevenoaks Suns 93-55 Durham Palatinates 27/3/2021
Oaklands Wolves 57-52 Essex Rebels 27/3/2021
Cardiff Met Archers 71-93 London Lions 27/3/2021
Leicester Riders 65-57 Manchester Met Mystics 27/3/2021
London Lions 91-59 Caledonia Pride 28/3/2021
Leicester Riders 72-47 Newcastle Eagles 28/3/2021
Worcester Wolves 61-77 Reading Rockets – 27/3/2021
Ipswich Basketball Club 55-67 Nottingham Trent University – 27/3/2021
Barking Abbey London Lions II 70-67 Thames Valley Cavaliers – 27/3/20201
Team Solent Kestrels 57-63 CoLA Southwark Pride – 27/3/2021
Cardiff Met Archers II 49-69 Barking Abbey London Lions II – 28/3/2021
Uni Girona 67 – 74 Avenida – 27/3/2021 (Spain)
Bourges 88 -53 Nantes 28/3/2021 (France)
Fenerbahce 85-64 Hatay 27/3/2021 (Turkey)
Empoli 58-74 Venezia 28/3/2021 (Italy)
Schio 66-60 Ragusa 27/3/2021 (Italy)
NCAA WOMENS’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT:
#1 Stanford 89-62 #5 Missouri State – 26/32021
#6 Oregon 42-60 #2 Louisville 28/3/2021
#1 UConn 92-72 #5 Iowa 27/3/2021
#6 Michigan 75-78 (OT) #2 Baylor 27/3/2021
#1 South Carolina 76-65 #5 Georgia Tech 28/3/2021
#1 NC State 70-73 #4 Indiana – 27/3/2021
#6 Texas 64-61 #2 Maryland – 28/3/2021
#3 Arizona 74-59 #2 Texas A&M – 26/3/2021
Title race is alive and well in the WNBL D1
Nottingham Trent University will be firmly on the Christmas card list for Loughborough Riders after Trent stunned Ipswich on the road to keep alive a title race many will have thought was dead.
Ipswich who have looked near invincible at times this season now boast a 10-2 record, ahead of the 9-3 Riders, but a Riders over Ipswich would give them the head to head advantage needed to clinch the league title, assuming The Riders take care of business in their other four games.
Before Saturday the only other side to take a game from reigning champions Ipswich was Loughborough in Loughborough, as they started to find their feet after a rocky start to the season.
It will be very interesting to see how Loughborough play it the rest of the season with many of their players, including rookie phenom Katie Januszewska featuring for both the Riders WNBL and WBBL teams this season. The Riders as an organisation are at the pointy end of both championships this season and how they handle the next two months will be very interesting to see.
The idea of Ipswich dropping another game before their end of season clash with Loughborough is nearly unthinkable given their dominance over the competition this season, but in their run-in they do face the difficult CoLA Southwark Pride who gave the league leaders a scare when they took them to OT back at the start of the season.
Ipswich are expected to lose some key players at the end of the season as League MVP candidate Esther Little heads stateside to Gonzaga as are Cameron Taylor-Willis (DII Ecker) and Ella Pearson (DII Newberry) and Charlotte Redhead (undecided) all of whom are key contributors. Nick Drane will be keen to finish the run with this core group on a high with another league title and then a run through the playoffs in May.
Playoff battles in WNBL D1
Barking Abbey London Lions II had a huge weekend as they defeated both Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday and then Cardiff Met Archers II on Sunday to blow the race for the playoffs wide open. BA entered the weekend with an 8-0 record sitting dead last in the WNBL but now find themselves with a chance of making the postseason having dealt a blow to Cardiff’s own chances.
With 8 losses on the season they still have a mountain to climb to clinch a spot in the top 8, but with the current form of Worcester and Thames Valley anything is possible.
Worcester Wolves should have done enough at the start of the season to clinch their postseason berth, but will need one or two more victories to make sure.
BA London Lions II have 8 tough games ahead of them, with a repeat matchup against Cardiff this weekend coming and an intriguing back to back set of games with Reading Rockets. In May they take on both TVC and Worcester in two games that could settle the fate of the WNBL D1 playoff spots.
Worcester have Cardiff, TVC and the Lions amongst their remaining fixtures and you’d expect one win from those three will clinch them their playoff berth in their first season at this level.
Thames Valley has a tough 9 game run in, with a double-header weekend in May with Lions and Wolves before and home and road series with Cardiff.
Another dominant weekend by the top three as the London Lions took down both Cardiff and Caledonia as they remain top of the standings with an -11-1 record.
Sevenoaks only had one game this weekend beating the struggling Durham Palatinates at home 93-55 as they remained perfect at 8-0, with four games in hand over London but with a tough schedule in the month of April. Sevenoaks are looking as solid as ever, being the only team to take a game from London so far, but if anything is going to end their chase for a WBBL Championship it could well be fixture congestion.
The Leicester Riders also had a double victory weekend with wins over Manchester and Newcastle to go stay third with an 8-1 record. Another team that could face problems with the calendar, Leicester, who shook up their roster in a major way following their Cup triumph will look to lean on their youth at points as they contend with a tough run in.
The race for the playoffs looks all but over for Caledonia and Durham, with Newcastle also looking like being on the outside with their 4-10 record. Cardiff and Oaklands both have 4-7 records whilst Manchester sit with a 5-6 record up in sixth.
Newcastle have a mountain to climb and would need other results to go their way, but they have played all of the top sides for the final time this season, but with two games against Durham coming up and a must-win home game with Oaklands, as KG said, “anything is possible”.
Leonard leads the way
The incredible season of Kennedy Leonard continued this weekend as she stunned the world of British Basketball with 21 assists to go alongside her 13 points, 6 rebounds and 8 steals in their commanding victory over the Caledonia Pride.
Leonard now tops the single game record books having overtaken Georgia Jones’ total of 17 assists vs Essex back in 2018.
Leonard wrapped up an incredible 8 days having won the WBBL Trophy Final MVP award the Sunday prior with a 21-6-9-7 performance over the Nottingham Wildcats.
Avenida wrap up the regular season in Spain
Perfumeriasias Avenida clinched the regular season championship and head into Wednesday’s playoffs with the number one seed following with road victory over the tough Uni Spar Girona this weekend.
Avenida finished the season tied 29-1 with Valencia, but thanks to beating them by 2 points back in round 13 in November, and only losing by 1 point in round 28 in March, they took the head-to-head by a single point and clinched the regular season crown.
Avendia, who also play in the Euroleague Women’s Final Four on the weekend of the 16th April have an important couple of weeks in their history, and in their incredible season. The star studded Salamanca outfit are headlined by WNBA talent in Tiffany Hayes, Katie-Lou Samuelson and her sister and GB star Karlie Samuelson. The experienced Silva Dominguez, formerly of UMMC Ekaterinburg, led the way on the weekend for Avenida finishing with 11 points but a game high 4 steals.
Avenida take on Gran Canaria (13-17) in the two game quarter finals this week.
Bourges stay perfect in France
Tango Bourges Basket extended their unbeaten league form to 20-0 this weekend defeating Nantes on Sunday by a final score of 88-53. Bourges have already comfortably sewn up the domestic title, but have two games remaining to start perfect. They face rivals Landes, who did defeat Bourges in Euroleague competition and lowly Charnay to round out the year before heading into the playoffs.
Italy headed to the wire
GB Legend Temi Fagbenle and her Venezia side top the Serie A1 standings with two rounds remaining one game ahead of Euroleague competitors Schio.
Schio are on a great run of form with 14 straight victories since their defeat to Ragusa back in December, and they do hold the head to head over Venezia thanks to their big 84-62 victory in February that erased an 8 point loss back in November.
Venezia have only lost once all season and find themselves fighting on two fronts as they enter the Eurocup final four. Venezia’s final two league fixtures are against third places Ragusa (18-4) and lowly Battipaglia (2-20) on the final day.
Schio will face playoff battlers Costa Masnaga (12-12) and finish up against 12th placed Sassari (4-20) to close out the season.
Courtney Williams hosting the “Women above the Rim” Event Set for 11 April in Atlanta GA
Atlanta Dream star Courtney Williams is hosting a women’s basketball showcase called “Women above the Rim” in Atlanta on April 11th.
The event, posted on Eventbrite, will be a 5-hour basketball event showcasing “WNBA, overseas and former collegiate players” and will include a 3-point contest, a full-court game and a dunk contest.
The event will be played out in front of a live paying audience ($10 a ticket) and be played on rims lowered to 9 feet from their usual 10 feet, giving greater opportunity for players to play “above the rim”. The exact location of the event has yet to be announced at time of publication.
How much this will help the profile of women’s basketball will remain to be seen and it will be interesting to see what talent Williams has been able to assemble given that many European competitions will be in the later stages of the season on the date of the event.
WNBA “City Edition” Jerseys leak in America
Across the USA WNBA fans, players and media members alike have been trawling through their local Dicks’ Sporting Goods (who famously bailed out the NCAA last week by gifting the women’s bubbles with equipment after the NCAA failed to) to hunt down new Nike WNBA jerseys.
So far jerseys of the Mystics, Wings, Lynx and Liberty have been located to a very mixed response.
Jerseys now feature sponsor’s logos on the back rather than the front of the jersey and each design is unique, rather than the standard model of the WNBA of one template with different colourways.
However, the jersey leaks have not been without controversy as Nike athlete and former MVP Elena Delle Donne’s jerseys have been spotted with her name spelt incorrectly. Her teammate Natasha Cloud took to Twitter to tell Nike to “DO BETTER”.
The design of the Mystics and Wings “City” edition jerseys have also met with very mixed to a negative reaction, with the Wings jersey being a huge departure from the usual colourway and design, featuring a military-looking motif in the middle of an olive green jersey.
The New York Liberty however look to have nailed their jersey designs so far with teal, black and gold. Their black jersey has New York on the front while their teal jersey has Equality, with their Statue of Liberty jersey at the “I”.
It is assumed that these leaked jerseys are official, and it will be interesting to see what the remaining jersey designs look like at their official launch in a few weeks.