The only ones to watch
In this edition of On The Ball, NATION basketball writer Justin Marville reviews last week’s opening of the 2014 women’s domestic league.
• SO EXACTLY what did we learn from the latest Cavs-UWI matchup?
Nothing much, actually.
Yeah, I wouldn’t really put too much stock into that 54-41 Blackbirds victory, unless of course you honestly believe UWI are 13 points than the champs. Uh huh!
I mean it was only both teams’ first actual outing for the season, and apart from the five combined national players that travelled to Tortola, everyone else had that small issue of 14 months’ worth of rust to scrape off.
Looking for a better indicator for the inevitable finals rematch? Then I’d take my chances peaking at their October second round fixture, and even that may not carry any weight, considering the two heavyweights should’ve comfortably locked up the top two play-off spots by that time to render that contest similarly meaningless.
If anything, I guess we got a glance at the style of play each team intends to deploy against the other, with UWI pushing the ball at every opportunity presented to them, while Station Hill enjoyed great success doing the complete opposite with a big line-up featuring Wanda Agard-Belgrave, Astrid Alleyne and Shakira Shorey.
Well, come to think of it, maybe we’ve learned from that contest after all, and that is that this matchup is the only possible one we’ll be watching come finals time.
• Oh, now that I remember, one thing did jump out at me, and that’s how ridiculously deep these 2014 Cavaliers are right now.
I’m not saying this is the best Station Hill team I’ve seen, far from, but it’s been a while since the lady Cavs can say they go ten players deep into their roster.
By my count it’s actually 12, and we’re not talking about women making up a number here either, as each of the dozen have at least attended national trials.
That number doesn’t even include overseas-based pro Jamila Studer, who has yet to return home and play a single game for gang green, or former national netballer Lydia Bishop, who more than holds her own in the paint.
Such is their depth that they can take out the current starting five, along with Studer and the injured Tamisha Flatts, and still easily beat everyone else save for UWI with a backup group comprising of Bishop, Shakira Shorey, Rhea Holder, Cherise Shepherd, Danesha Elcock, Trisha Payne and Safiya Henry.
Of course, the argument could always be made that same “stacked” roster managed just 41 points against the Blackbirds, but I’m also sure Sonics, Hoopsters, Warrens and Bulls would all be more than glad to score nearly as many versus UWI.
• Don’t look now, but St John’s 23-point massacre of the schoolgirls all but cements what I’ve been saying all along. There is no unit capable of challenging the Cavs-UWI stranglehold on the finals.
This is no knock on Sonics eh, as the talented guard-laden squad could probably be pencilled in for a postseason berth as the league’s clear No.3 team.
However, there’s a clear gap between the big two and St John’s, who are still a good 15 points behind both UWI and Station Hill once both favourites are at full strength.
And the distance between them and schoolgirls is clearly even wider now following the untimely injury to star forward/centre Winmalecia Bowen and the more than obvious declining skills of the team’s role players.
Things could look a bit different come this same time next month, or the regular season could very well be mere unnecessary fodder for yet another Cavs-UWI showdown.