2018 QBL Pre-Season Write-Up

Brisbane Capitals

Men (2017 finish: 1st): The Brisbane Capitals return a majority of the squad who finished top of the table in 2017 although they have unfortunately lost veteran Dusty Rychart with a season-ending knee injury. Big man Nelson Kahler, who moved over to Auchenflower from Logan, will be expected to control the glass, defend the rim and pick up some of the scoring lost with Rychart’s injury. American import Aaron Anderson is back to run the point and set the tone for the always aggressive Caps defense. Ben and Jacob Wilson join a crowded backcourt with returning Caps players like Anthony Kopcikas, Seb Windsor and Jake Davis as well as American import Brandon Davis. The Caps will expect to be back in the Finals looking to make another run at that elusive QBL championship.

Women (2017 finish: 8th): Amy Lewis leads a group of Caps returning for another run at the QBL Finals. Caps regulars Victoria Aldred, Mikaela King and Maddie Woodford also return to Auchenflower. New coach Bronwyn Marshall has recruited well adding talented import forward Akilah Bethel and Diana Neves from Sunshine Coast Phoenix as well as talented youngsters Grace Ellis and Karissa Grigg. Depth could potentially be an issue for the Caps as the bench is very young and inexperienced. Lewis will be relied on heavily along with Bethel but that could be a very potent 1-2 punch. The Caps will expect to return to the Finals again in 2018.


Cairns Marlins/Dolphins

Men (2017 finish: 4th): The Marlins were a failed last second three-point attempt from Kody Stattmann from returning to the QBL Grand Finals in 2017. Cairns has lost a lot of talent from the 2017 squad including their coach Jamie Pearlman. Stepping into the Head Coach position is Jamie O’Loughlin who, much like Pearlman, brings years of experience as an NBL assistant coach to the role. O’Loughlin has a nice group of players on his roster including returning Marlins Anthony Fisher and Kuany Kuany. Matthew Smith has been coaxed out of retirement to man the middle once again while exciting young Australians Fabijan Krslovic and Christian Jurlina are expected to make significant contributions. Cairns expectations are Finals and championships every season and 2018 will be no different.

Women (2017 finish: 9th): The Dolphins narrowly missed the Finals in 2017 so you can bet that they will be looking to get back in 2018. New coach Kerry Williams will rely on returning players including Jade Kennedy, Rachel Pryor and Myra Donkin. Cairns has gone overseas to sign exciting import Robin Perkins to be another playmaker who can score and shoot the ball. The bench in Cairns is quite young but has some QBL experience in Jonnae Downing, Summah Evans, Ell Hutchison and Sarah Heard. You know that Coach Williams will have his team competing hard every night with the focus of returning to the Finals.


Gladstone Port City Power

Men (2017 finish: 12th): The Power struggled mightily in 2017 so have made big changes heading into 2018 starting with new Head Coach Brady Walmsley. Coach Walmsley returns key Power players Nathaniel Musters, Tyler Allen, Troy Robinson, Patrick Ciganovic and Mitchell Knight. Gladstone recruited overseas pulling in imports Casey Walker and Taylor Young to bring some scoring punch to the group. The Power also did a nice job recruiting Australia and New Zealand as Matt Hancock joins the group off of a couple of NBL development seasons along with talented big man Cirkook Riak and Jordan Lumkon. Port City has the Finals in their sights and will look to rely on their new faces to get there.

Women (2017 finish: 5th): Gladstone received an MVP level season from Tabatha Richardson Smith last season to a Finals spot. They also had a very talented Cassie Rochel controlling the paint. Neither player returns in 2018 so Gladstone replenished the stocks with another pair of talented imports in Amanda Frost and Jennifer Mathurin. The import duo will once again be relied on heavily for the Power as the roster returns only one player in Kiah Guinea. The addition of Brie Bailey from Rockhampton will help but the depth of the roster may hurt the Power’s push for Finals in 2018.


Gold Coast Rollers

Men (2017 finish: 10th): Gold Coast has high expectations for 2018 after revamping their playing roster, headlined by the return of Gold Coast local Jack McVeigh. McVeigh returns to Australia after a steady college career at the University of Nebraska and will be looking to establish himself as one of the top young players in the country. He’ll be joined at the Rollers by championship winning players Matt Adekponya and TJ Diop along with experienced players Dwayne Vale, Thalo Green and Christian Salecich. The experience is balanced out by young talent Jalen Patton Croker and Levi Frankland as well as exciting import Deon Mitchell. The goal for the Gold Coast is to make some noise throughout the season and into the Finals.

Women (2017 finish: 14th): The Rollers went winless in 2017 so changes were inevitable. Gold Coast brought in experienced coach Michael Van Dongen to rebuild the program, something he was able to do at his previous stop at USC Rip. Also making the move from Rip to the Gold Coast is Hannah Beede, a talented three-point shooter and great leader. Alicia Carline, Sarah Glazebrook and Siarn Woods bring veteran guise to a very young squad. The youngsters are talented led by players like Sophie Johnston and Kate Hewitt. Coach Van Dongen will be looking for improvement game-by-game from his young team. Expect to see the Gold Coast improve on their results from 2017.


Ipswich Force

Men: (2017 finish: 13th): Ipswich’s men’s program is in a transition phase as they look to focus on developing young talent while still remaining competitive in the QBL. Long-time Force stalwart Jason Ralph returns along with long term import Kyle Harvey and exciting shooter Garret Hall to form a solid trio for Ipswich. James Kuon and Joseph Owens are two quality big men who can play inside and out while local youngsters Kane Bishop and Mitch Poulain bring energy and a surprising amount of QBL experience to the team. A lot of youth here could lead to some tough times for Ipswich but don’t be surprised to see Ipswich spring a few ‘upsets’ as they try to force their way into Finals.

Women: (2017 finish: 6th): Coach Brad George returns a majority of the core players from his 2017 team while replacing import Markel Walker who was a key to the Force’s run to the Finals. Like the men, the Ipswich women will also be quite young with talented guards Rachel Mate and Georgia Williams leading the way in the backcourt. Both players had big moments last year and more will be expected of them in 2018. Veterans Bree Farley, Amanda Johnson and Iris Cubit will be relied on heavily. They will be joined by import forward Gintare Mazionyte who comes to Queensland after a stint in the Swedish league. The Force should contend for the Finals once again.


Logan Thunder

Men: (2017 finish: 7th): Logan continues to have championship aspirations and they should with a team once again headlined by Mitch Young and Michael Cedar. Both players are difference makers which opposing teams have to plan for. Veterans Sean Carroll, Tommy Ammar and Simon Taylor are also back for the Thunder. Logan has big expectations for their imports Rayshawn Simmons and Obi Kyei. And don’t be surprised if the addition of Damon Christensen from Rockhampton turns into a sneaky good acquisition. Head Coach Luke Cann slides over to the men’s team after guiding the women for the past couple of seasons. He’ll have his team focused on Finals basketball and bringing a title to Logan.

Women: (2017 finish: 2nd): The Thunder women’s team were disappointed to miss out on the 2017 Grand Finals series and if they are to take that one further step this season they will do so without the services of their leading scorer from the past few seasons Kate Gaze. But it won’t have to be one person who fills Gaze’s shoes as Logan returns a lot of talent including WNBL championship-winning point guard Mikhaela Donnelly, import forward Jackie Luna-Castro and do-everything veteran Cassie Smith. Add to that mix top young talent Zitina Aokuso, Ula Motuga and Jayden Fuiava and you’ve got a team who will once again be in the mix for a Finals spot.


Mackay Meteors/Meteorettes

Men: (2017 finish: 2nd): The Meteors fell one win short of winning the 2017 QBL championship and they will be hoping to go that one-step further in 2018. Although the loss of 2017 MVP Shaun Bruce will hurt, Mackay does what they always do and reloaded the roster for another Finals run. Coach Cameron Tragardh will suit up again alongside the evergreen Chris Cedar and returning local Todd Blanchfield. The always reliable Brad Rasmussen is back as is Lukass Blicavs and Mitch Gamblin. Mackay has also signed Adelaide 36ers development player Nelson Larkins to bring his trademark hard-nosed defense and steady point guard play to the team. As always, Mackay will be expecting to bring home a QBL title.

Women: (2017 finish: 3rd): Mackay dropped their two Grand Finals games by a total of 6 points last season in a disappointing end to an excellent season. The Meteorettes will look very different from that team in 2018 as they look for players to step up in place of Nadeen Payne, Chevvy Paalvast and the retired Tami Willey. Mackay does return Jacqui Zelenka, Jillian Haughton and Sara Storeshaw while adding veteran guard Heidi Freeburn from the Brisbane Capitals. Imports Ruvanna Campbell and Mia Lloyd will have to gel with the rest of the group to help Mackay get back to the QBL championship series.


North Gold Coast Seahawks

Men (2017 finish: 4th in SBL): The North Gold Coast Seahawks has entered teams in the QBL for the 2018 season and they will be looking to make some noise. The Seahawks will rely on many of their players from their successful SBL season including Jesse Lomax, Alex Lomakin and Jalen Russel as well as veteran Ty Davidson. Remy Lawyer returns home after some time in Gladstone with the Power while Jerron Jamerson comes in from the US to add some scoring and professional experience to the group. Expect to see a 2nd import announced soon from North Gold Coast Seahawks. Transitioning from an SBL program to the QBL has proven difficult in the past; North Gold Coast will look to buck that trend in 2018.

Women: (2017 finish: 1st in SBL): North Gold Coast Seahawks ran through the SBL undefeated in 2017 and will be looking to carry over some of that momentum into the 2018 QBL season. Many of the same SBL players will feature for the Seahawks including Lauren Jansen, Emily Allen and Jessica Blundell-Thornton. The Seahawks brought in Bridget O’Brien, Kayla Kiriau and Aimee Hani, all with previous experience in the QBL. North Gold Coast Seahawks will look to add an import to help bolster the playing group in their debut QBL season. It will be very difficult for the Seahawks to replicate their SBL success in the QBL this season but expect them to be competitive every night.


Rockhampton Rockets/Cyclones

Men: (2017 finish: 8th): Rockhampton made it to the semi-finals as the 8 seed in 2017 in what could be considered a disappointing season. The Rockets will again have captain James Mitchell who had a great run in the 2017 Finals, as well as Jack Lopez, Trevor Corrigan and Leon Christensen returning. The big addition for Rocky is perennial all-league performer Ray Willis, who makes the move over to Rockhampton from Gladstone. Willis has been one of the top performers in the QBL in recent years and will add some much-needed scoring ability to the Rockets squad. Rockhampton also has Malcolm Bernard, a player coming off some time in the G-League so you know Rockhampton will be expecting to play Finals basketball in 2018.

Women: (2017 finish: 11th): The Cyclones are looking to put 2017 behind them after a disappointing QBL season. Gone from the team are WNBL stars Abby Bishop and Natalie Novosel with Coach Muggeridge choosing to bring back several players from 2017 including top import Shanavia Dowdell, along with veterans Chloe Morrow, Katrina Clifford and Christina Boag. American point guard Aaryn Ellenberg joins the group looking to add a solid scoring punch from the point guard position. Youngsters like Shannan Muggeridge, Jessica Lorraway and Anna Dyer will need to step up in their time on the court for Rocky to make a return to the Finals in 2018.


Southern Districts Spartans

Men: (2017 finish: 9th): The 2017 Spartans team had high expectations but fell short of those as they just missed out on the Finals.  Returning players for Spartans in 2018 include Brisbane Bullets guard Adam Gibson, his backcourt partners Mitch Philp and Darryl McDowell-White and big men Ben Volkman and Dan Quigley. Bullets big man Will Magnay is a player to keep an eye on. He had some nice moments in small doses for the Bullets and will be looking to prove to the Bullets staff that he deserves more court time. Exciting import Dashawn King and Ipswich recruit Jarryd Eustace will add additional firepower to the lineup. Districts is surely expecting a return to Finals in 2018 with the talent they have on the roster.

Women: (2017 finish: 1st, QBL champions): It was literally a perfect season for the Spartans in 2017 as they went undefeated on their way to the 2017 QBL title. The pressure is on to repeat as champions albeit with a new look roster. Districts will be led by their backcourt pair of Aja Parham and Jessica McDowell-White. Also returning for Spartans in the frontcourt are Rebecca Haynes and Emily Preston as well as Sydney Comets recruit Anais Kirvan. Imports Ambrosia Anderson and Romy Baer will be expected to pick up some of the scoring responsibilities while youngsters Jameson McMullen, Kate Stainer and Ashley Taia will see some time off the bench. I don’t think anyone is expecting another perfect season in Carina but the Finals as certainly attainable once again.


South West Metro Pirates

Men (2017 finish: 6th): The Pirates men will be looking to progress further than their quarter-final appearance from 2017. The Captain Ryan Vines will once again lead his men into the season and will have QBL veterans Jarred Bairstow and Jake Allen back to provide leadership to a relatively young group. Princeton Onwas moves over from the Capitals and will be expecting to play up front for the Pirates alongside Bullets big man Tyrell Harrison and the recently signed James Ringholt. Verle Williams Jr is back and will be looking to continue his development after spending time with the Bullets this past season. Young guns Nick Stoddart, Frazer Roberts and Tendekai Machando are names to remember this season as the Pirates look to push towards the semi-finals and beyond.

Women (2017 finish: 7th): There is only one word to describe the Pirates women’s roster and that is loaded. Coach Jason Chainey has done a masterful job in recruiting and now must find a way to get all of his talent sufficient court time and opportunities. Returning for the Pirates in 2018 are Steph Bairstow, Maddie Willey, Kellie Page and Amanda Beatson. They will be joined by 2017 Spartans championship players Kalani Purcell and Natalie Taylor as well as Adelaide Lightning and Commonwealth Games gold medal winner Nicole Seekamp. Add to that mix Jade Kirisome and Grace Champion and you would have to expect the Pirates to be contending for a title in 2018.


Sunshine Coast Phoenix

Men: (2017 finish: 11th): The Phoenix took a while to find their rhythm in 2017 so they will be hoping to get some wins on the board early in the 2018 season. Sunshine Coast returns some nice talent from last season with CJ Massingale, Matt Donaldson and Brisbane Bullets youngster Tom Fullarton all coming back. Fullarton did not see too much time in the NBL so you’d have to think he will be looking to prove a point when he hits the floor. Roy Booker was recruited from SEABL to bring some much-needed scoring to the point guard spot as well as veteran leadership. Josh Walters is back and Paul Aleer has made the switch from Toowoomba to bring size to the frontcourt. Phoenix will expect to move up the ladder and snag a spot in the Finals.

Women: (2017 finish: 12th): Sunshine Coast made a huge splash in the offseason as they signed two of the top Australian talents we will see in the QBL in 2018 as Natalie Hurst and Abby Bishop join the Phoenix. Those two alone may be able to win you some games but coach Mark Hauser will look to some of his local talent like Caitlin Clancy, Dustie Obah and veteran Ashlee Wallis to complement his WNBL stars. The big question will be who from the young bench squad will step up when they get the opportunity to see the court. Bishop and Hurst may be enough to sneak the Phoenix into the Finals if a few of their teammates can take the pressure off of them.


Toowoomba Mountaineers

Men: (2017 finish: 14th): The Mountaineers opened 2017 with a big win but it would be the only time they saw the win column as they finished 1 – 16 for the wooden spoon. Toowoomba brought in Australian basketball legend Danny Morseu to reshape the playing roster and change the culture around the club for 2018 and beyond. Familiar faces in Jason Ebneter, Cameron Weber and Manylok Malek are back again. Josh Derksen also returns to the club after spending last season with Ipswich. Toowoomba brought imports Harold Ridgeway and Damon Bozeman over and will be looking to them to provide a consistent effort each week. Toowoomba will expect to improve on last season’s disappointment.

Women: (2017 finish: 13th): Toowoomba has appointed former QBL player Ezy Parsons as their new head coach in 2018. It will be interesting to see how Parsons transitions to coaching some of the players she shared the court with just last season. Returning from injury for Toowoomba is Despena Dickerson. The ‘Neers missed Dickerson’s leadership and steady play last season. Also back is Emily Derksen and Kimberlee Wilson. Celeste Williams moves over from South West in search of more playing time. Parsons also has brought in import Malena Washington and will potentially look to add a second import at some point. Toowoomba will expect to be more competitive in 2018.


Townsville Heat/Flames

Men: (2017 finish: 3rd, QBL champions): The Heat are your reigning QBL champions but they have not rested on their laurels as they have added some serious talent to their title-winning roster. Returning to Townsville are QBL Grand Finals MVP Josh Wilcher, talented big man Justin Baker, NBL/Boomers veteran (and 3×3 champion) Peter Crawford and center Matt Rees. Joining them are former Crocs Harry Froling (recently signed with Adelaide 36ers) and Jordair Jett. And I haven’t mentioned veterans Keegan Tudehope and Brendon McCully or young gun Ethan Betts. Townsville will get every teams best shot this season but they have the talent and experience to handle it. They are the early title favourite and are clearly looking to repeat in 2018.

Women: (2017 finish: 4th): Townsville was upset in the quarter-finals by Gladstone last season and will be looking to take a step or two further in 2018. The Flames are led by their star Darcee Garbin who averaged a double-double across the 2017 season. She’s joined by Townsville Fire teammates Michaela Cocks, Haylee Andrews and Ainsley Walsh. Veterans Lisa Brennan, Cherie Gallagher and Rebecca Vanderjagt will provide leadership for a young bench which features Majella and Harriet Carey. Garbin is going to be the key for Townsville. They will need Garbin and Cocks to play well each night and their teammates to play consistently well to propel the Flames even further into the Finals in 2018.


University of Sunshine Coast RIP

Men: (2017 finish: 5th): USC Rip have lofty goals for the 2018 season after bowing out in the quarter-finals versus Cairns in 2017. Rip return talented backcourt partners Izzy Tueta and Lance Hurdle. Both players have NBL experience and both can take over games at any moment. Zane and Zeke Meehl are also back to provide experience and shooting, while big men Josh Tueta and Rory Sutton will man the frontcourt along with the versatile Louis Ilton. Rip have also brought Eric McAlister into the mix who they will look to provide a little more scoring punch up front. The Rip will be looking to improve on last season and secure a home court Final will the hopes of advancing this time around.

Women: (2017 finish: 10th): The Rip women improved over the course of the 2017 and they will hope to build on that momentum for the 2018 campaign. Import Leah Scott returns for another QBL season after a nice year in 2017. Kris Langhorn also comes back after a year away from the Rip, while Jen Carden-David and Meg Ditchburn return as well. USC has added top Australian 3×3 player Carlie Smith to the squad and has also signed England international Hannah Shaw. The Rip want to move a few spots up the ladder and have recruited accordingly. The question is can this relatively new group of players gel in time to make it happen?