It was an unfortunate story of losing streaks for the Southside Flyers last year, as they never managed to get consistent production from players outside of their core group including the departing captain Jenna O'Hea and Sixth Woman of the Year Kristy Wallace.
Southside's stars are Australian Opals bronze medalist Sara Blicavs, leading scorer Rebecca Cole and point guard Maddison Rocci who lead the scoring in all except four of the Flyers 17 games last season.
Head coach Cheryl Chambers, along with her new look squad welcoming Australia's greatest of all time Lauren Jackson, WNBA import Kayla Thornton, WNBL champion Carley Ernst and youngsters Dallas Loughbridge and Nyadiew Puoch.
How they did last year
7th (five wins, 12 losses)
Southside started the season quite well with two wins and twi losses, the wins being over Bendigo and Townsville that came in between back-to-back losses to eventual champions Melbourne.
From there however, it all went downhill with a three-game losing streak and a seven-game losing streak between just one win. The Flyers were never able to gain any tangible momentum and they finished near the bottom of the ladder.
Their dependence on their key players was evident which is why this season's roster turnover may be the key to a turnaround in fortunes for the 2020 WNBL champions.
Returning: Sara Blicavs, Rebecca Cole, Maddison Rocci, Abby Bishop, Aimie Rocci
Ins: Lauren Jackson, Carley Ernst, Nyadiew Puoch, Dallas Loughbridge, Kayla Thornton
Outs: Jenna O'Hea, Kristy Wallace, Rachel Jarry, Emmilee Whittle-Harmon (UC Capitals), Kate Gaze, Taylah Simmons (Celje, Slovenia)
The most noticeable trait of the Flyers last season was their ability to score in bunches when they were on song. While the scoring was mostly a matter of the five players mentioned in the recap, all of them were very productive on the offensive end.
Blicavs and Cole averaged over 32 points per game between the two of them, providing a big boost on the offensive end whenever they were on the floor together. Additionally, scoring from guards Wallace and Rocci assisted the Flyers' firepower with 20 points per game between them.
It does not seem unlikely that the team will go from strength to strength because of the offensive firepower Jackson possesses as well as likely to have a more consistent inside presence between Jackson and a healthy Blicavs and Abby Bishop.
Speaking of interior presence, the Flyers struggled with securing rebounds on both ends of the floor due to Bishop's injuries. Rebounding was heavily reliant on Blicavs who had her own injury problems, so without those two big rebounders on the floor, Rocci lead the team in rebounds with only 4.9 per game.
The health of Bishop and Blicavs will again be key in improving this aspect of their game but their acquisitions of Jackson and Thornton will be a big plus on that side of the game. Kayla Thornton regularly averages over five rebounds a game from a wing or forward position, while Jackson averaged almost eight rebounds per game throughout her decorated 12-year WNBA career.
The Flyers have made a conscious effort in the offseason to improve their presence in the paint and based on the records of these players, they're due a better performance on the boards this year.
Highlighting the two youngsters of the Flyers is important as they're going to be key in the rotation with only 10 players confirmed for the roster. Both represented the Gems at U18 level but the player that may tip the scales in terms of fitting the Flyers system and providing a versatile presence is Puoch.
At youth international level, the forward averaged over 12 points per game, over five rebounds which again will help cover for their weakness last season and showed some nice vision helping along at the U18 Women's Asia Championship with 2.8 assists per game.
The 186cm forward will be looking to make an impact at senior level and will be an intriguing prospect to follow moving forward for the Flyers and perhaps even the Opals.
Prediction for 2022/23 WNBL season
The Flyers have made a lot of good moves in the off-season and filled in the gaps in their roster admirably. While a 10-person roster with two juniors seems a little slim in terms of rotation, Southside will be a force to be reckoned with when healthy and may challenge for a finals spot this year.
The Southside Flyers begin their 2022/23 WNBL season against the Adelaide Lightning at the State Basketball Centre on Saturday, November 5 from 7pm AEDT.