The 2022-23 WNBL season is underway, and the first round did not disappoint! We saw the league's talent on full display, flashy new imports, fresh young prospects, and even Australia's most successful basketballer made her return to the WNBL.
It wasn't without a few teething problems though. While fans at the games were treated to some exciting performances, those at home were left frustrated trying to watch the live streams. ESPN's coverage had some interesting scores shown and played tricks on fans, having them believe the Perth Lynx were wearing a pink uniform. 9NOW suffered their own technical difficulties with delayed commentary and a glitchy stream which made what should have been an enjoyable experience, an excruciating one.
Turning to a new production company this year, let's hope these can be amended quickly so fans can be treated to the real performance of elite women's basketball in the WNBL.
Technical issues aside, the calibre of the action was entertaining to watch. All games in Round 1 were very high scoring and, despite one blow out, very competitive contests.
Lynx 88-104 Boomers
Although it wasn't the 711-score line that was displayed on our screens at home, the Boomers had a big first win, considering the fact they were missing two key players in Tess Madgen and Lily Scanlon. Despite this, they showed their depth in terms of scoring threats as they finished the game with 104 points, four of their starters scoring in double figures. The Boomers proved too strong for Perth, even with Sami Whitcomb producing a 30-point game and carrying the Lynx throughout the game.
UC Caps 85-105 Spirit
Bendigo had a convincing win in this game, running the floor well and executing better than their opposition. The Spirit had 13 more assists than the Capitals and an even scoring spread across their starters and bench, with five players scoring in double figures. Early in this game, the Caps had a devastating loss with Gemma Potter going down and exiting the game -- it was later confirmed that she'd ruptured her ACL and strained her MCL. This didn't help the Caps' cause and they couldn't stay with the Spirit for four quarters.
Flyers 99-91 Lightning
In what was the tightest contest of the round, Southside ended up coming out on top in what was a thrilling game. All five starters for the Flyers were in double figures, that's not including Carly Ernst who shot the three ball at 80 percent. With stats and depth like that, it's hard to be stopped. Adelaide's starters held their own, but the real damage came from their bench -- Isabel Borlase provided energy and aggression, surprising those watching by posting 25 points and nine rebounds, shooting at a casual 83 percent for the game.
Spirit 85-66 Lynx
Bendigo is doing all the right things to start their season. It's no surprise to see Kelly Wilson dishing out assists, Anneli Maley securing rebounds, and Megan McKay going to work under the ring, but the rest of the team have all stepped up to become a real threat to the rest of the competition. The return of Kelsey Griffin to the Spirit has so far worked very well, her hustle compliments Maley and her scoring ability stretches the floor. Unfortunately for Perth they copped their second loss of the week, but there were still moments of potential shown, Chloe Bibby leading the way with 28 points.
Fire 104-68 Caps
It's not every day you score 41 points in one quarter, but the Townsville Fire could not miss during their first game of the season. Whether it was strong finishes inside, being rewarded off good cuts or splashing from downtown -- they had all the answers. Led by Steph Reid, her partnership with Lauren Nicholson was so excellent to watch. The Caps worked hard to stay in the game, but could not do enough to catch up and halt the Fire's momentum. To add to the burn, Jade Melbourne went down with a troubling ankle injury and did not make a return. Dekeiya Cohen stood out for the Caps with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Round 1 of the 2022-23 WNBL season has lived up to the hype and it's exciting to know that the best is yet to come. There's plenty that teams can learn from their first week of competition, the huge score lines suggest that a bigger focus on defence is necessary, but nonetheless, it has been great to see players, coaches and fans enjoying the action and sharing their mutual passion for women's basketball. The Sydney Uni flames will have relished the extra week of preparation, but are likely to be roaring to get started in Round 2.