With the 2019/20 SBC season just two weeks away, basketballscotland invited The Church of Hoops to preview the Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s Leagues. TCoH looks at the comings and goings from across Scotland, as well as offering their thoughts on the season ahead:
The upcoming Senior Women’s season has not even started but it poses to be one of the best seasons yet. Player movement will contribute to the excitement with players debuting at new clubs, some leaving and some returning, 2019-20 is set to be a good one.
Notable signings came mainly from Sony Centre Fury. The Falkirk side have also contended for silverware but recent years have seen them unable to capture the final piece. This season, they will be hoping to finally get their hands on some titles as they welcome back Gillian Baird after 9 years away. A WBBL career at Loughborough and Nottingham will give her the experience needed to help Falkirk over the final hurdle.
Head coach John Bunyan said on Baird’s ability:
“Gillian has played at Loughborough and for Nottingham Wildcats in the WBBL and is a great player and individual. She will add strength to our team in many areas and has the benefit of knowing our style and many of our current players.”
Leaving the club however, Jenna Beattie will be making the step up to the WBBL as she signed for Caledonia Pride in the off-season. A regular top scorer for Fury, Bunyan and his side will need the squad to step up and replace those much needed points. Additions to the side will be from the youth system as Abby Rutter continues to shine as she steps up to the Senior level, Rutter will be joined by Katie McEwan and Emily Melrose as well as others.
In the capital, Scottish Cup holders Edinburgh KoolKats will be looking to retain their title as well as adding some more pieces. A sharpshooting All-Star duo in Emma Findlay and Alex Nelson will lead the line-up, but a coaching change may make the difference as former Men’s head coach Craig Nicol makes the switch to the Women’s side.
The students of the game in Edinburgh University will also be on the hunt for silverware after a Scottish Cup Final appearance and a 3rd place finish in the league. Movement with the side has also been rampant, with their squad also waiting to be finalised as the new group of students arrive at campus in the coming days.
Notable additions will be Erynn Legge who returns from Spain, Paige Onouye who swaps St Andrews for the capital and Murron Marr who returns from a year studying abroad. The youth movement at the club has also been huge as they sign promising young talent from around the country, head coach Donnie MacDonald said:
“Our team will still feature some young players this season, with Eabha Kerr moving to us from Fury and Jenni Torrance from Wolves. They join Jannike Marshall and Rose Harvey who return for their second season and are hoping to build on last year.
Our experience comes from Dori Lansbach, Steph Vallancey and Laoise Carey, who were all hugely influential last season.
Our primary focus is on improving as a team and individually, with the hope that by the end of the season we are competitive in what looks like being a very strong league this year.”
As for the reigning League and Playoff Champions, the season can’t come sooner. Preseason started early with the club’s media giving an insight into the hard work being put in for the past couple of months.
No notable losses to the roster either adds to the consistency of the group with a rumoured acquisition in Katrina Kirsop joining from Edinburgh Uni, will compliment the core players nicely. Head coach Colin Haldane returns for another year with League MVP Yhana Van Wees and All-Star Erin Gilbride, the side will be looking to make lightwork of the campaign this year. A cup run will be a target of the team, an early exit last year will fuel the side to wanting to do the treble.
For more from The Church of Hoops throughout the year, visit thechurchofhoops.com