NBL Division 1 Women - Mid-Season Review

Division 1 Women

 

Essex Blades

Record: 7-1

Position: 1st

Points For Per Game: 68.5

Points Against Per Game: 53.5

Game this weekend:  N/A

One of the sides to already book their place in January’s National Cup Final, Essex will most likely go into that game as favourites owing to their position at the top of D1W. A single loss by a single point to Bristol is the Blades’ only blemish on the season so far, and results such as the 81-42 demolition of Loughborough suggest that it could take something substantial to derail Essex this season.

Essex Blades Head Coach Mark Lloyd, "We are delighted to be in the league position we are in, having just the one league defeat so far along with having made it to the National Cup Final. We also fully realise that we are in a highly competitive league and have our feet firmly on the ground going forward. We will take each game as it comes, keep ourselves focused on the process and let the outcomes take care of themselves"

 

Bristol Academy Flyers

Record: 7-2

Position: 2nd

Points For Per Game: 62.2

Points Against Per Game: 57.6

Game this weekend: N/A

However, if anyone is going to best current D1W leaders Essex, it could well be Bristol. Victorious when the two sides met in Bristol in November, that result will give the Flyers real hope of success this season. Their attention is on the National Cup this weekend as Bristol make up their Semi Final game against D2W side Ipswich, a competition that could provide the side with yet another route to success in 2018.

Bristol Academy Flyers Captain Fiona Fox, “We're pleased with our league position at this point and hope continue this momentum into the second half of the season. Our aim is to be in the mix for the league title and make the Play Off Finals. We've put ourselves in a good position to achieve that so far but there is still a long way to go. All teams are starting to hit their stride now, so we still have improving to do in order to build on where we are at the moment. If we do that, we'll be in with a good chance at the end of the season.”

 

Oxford Brookes University

Record: 6-2

Position: 3rd

Points For Per Game: 65.7

Points Against Per Game: 60

Game this weekend: @ Southwark – Live Stats

A surprise package, Oxford Brookes were newly promoted to D1W this season and have continued the form that made them so formidable in D2W. Yet to play Essex, Oxford have already lost to Bristol but a victory over the Spinners in October suggests this team at least belongs in the mix at the top. As a side that concedes 60 points per game, that leaves them in the bottom half of the division in that category and is an area for potential improvement compared to the sides around them.

Head Coach Zach Meekings, “D1W has been a really good challenge for us so far and one that I think we've acclimated to pretty well. We'd have been really happy with a top 4 spot at the start of the year, but now we've established ourselves, we need to look to push on and challenge for the top of the league and home court advantage in the playoffs. The key to doing that is availability. We've lost two games by a combined 7 points - with heavily weakened teams. Getting a strong team out each week and building on our successes so far will hopefully see us there or thereabouts in April.”

 

Lancashire Spinners

Record: 6-3

Position: 4th

Points For Per Game: 66.1

Points Against Per Game: 58.6

Game this weekend: N/A

It’s been quite a turnaround for the Spinners after flirting with relegation last term. Their form has skyrocketed since securing their place in D1W for 2017/18 and at 6-3, they will now be hoping to continue that form the rest of the way. 2 of Lancashire’s 3 losses are to Bristol and Essex, but the side will no doubt be itching to put that record straight when the teams meet for the 2nd time in the New Year. A youthful core with experience mixed into the roster, this Spinners team could also find successful for quite a while yet.

 

Southwark Pride

Record: 5-3

Position: 5th

Points For Per Game: 59.5

Points Against Per Game: 54.8

Game this weekend: v Oxford Brookes – Live Stats

Depending on the result of this weekend’s game with Oxford, it really could impact how the Pride view the first half of their season. A win would leave them at 6-3 and tied with Oxford and Lancashire for 3rd place. A loss would put them at 5-4, finishing 2017 at 2-2 over their last 4 games and a larger distance from where they wanted to be when the season began. It’s a tough sell to say that the previous 3 month’s work hinges on a single game, but this one could put a slant on how the London side view their efforts to date as well as providing a test for how this team might perform in 2018.

 

Loughborough Students Riders

Record: 5-4

Position: 6th

Points For Per Game: 56.8

Points Against Per Game: 61.89

Game this weekend: @ Reading – Live Stats

Inconsistency has plagued the Riders so far this season. Wins over Solent, Southwark and Bristol have been coupled with a loss to Birmingham and that 40-point game at home against Essex. As one of the youngest teams in D1W, their key to success for the rest of the season must be to try and harness some consistency. If they can do that, they’ll match any side on a given weekend and no doubt lock up a playoff place.

Loughborough Students Riders Point Guard Imogen Cook, “The season so far has been up and down but most definitely positive! We have lost games that we for sure could have won but at the same time have shown true character. For example, winning in OT to Southwark and coming back from 20 point deficits to win. Some teams may see us as the underdog as a young team but I think we have established respect amongst this league now. I am proud of our team’s journey so far in overcoming obstacles in order to do what needs to be done and accomplishing our goals together. Moving forward into 2018 the goal is just to win! We know what other teams can do now and we are ready to do everything in our power to get the job done. We are confident in each other and believe everyone has the ability to step up at any given time.”

 

Reading Rockets

Record: 4-3

Position: 7th

Points For Per Game: 55.9

Points Against Per Game: 53.1

Game this weekend: v Loughborough – Live Stats

Reading look set to continue along the same trajectory the rest of the way, potentially securing a low playoff place at the end of the regular season. Beating the teams around them in Nottingham, Loughborough and Solent but with losses to D1W’s stronger outfits in Oxford and Lancashire, only the team themselves know if that form is the ceiling for the programme this season, or if they can push on and ruffle a few feathers in 2018.

 

University of Nottingham

Record: 3-6

Position: 8th

Points For Per Game: 52.4

Points Against Per Game: 58.3

Game this weekend: N/A

A first season at this level for the D2W Playoff Champions of 2016/17, Nottingham have done well with 9 games in the books. A loss to Reading will be a game they’d probably like to have back if they reflect on their efforts so far, but beating teams like Birmingham, London Lions and Anglia Ruskin should help the side stay ahead of any potential relegation battle down the line.

 

Team Birmingham Elite

Record: 2-6

Position: 9th

Points For Per Game: 56.6

Points Against Per Game: 59.1

Game this weekend: @ Solent – Live Stats

Much like fellow promotion side Nottingham, Birmingham will be happy to have created a platform in 2017 to work from going forward. Their game this weekend with Solent is big as both sides sit on 4 points near the bottom, and whoever can take win there will surely head into 2018 looking the brighter. It’s been 6 losses on the bounce for Birmingham though, they’d love to end the year by snapping that streak.

 

BA London Lions II

Record: 2-5

Position: 10th

Points For Per Game: 65.4

Points Against Per Game: 69.4

Game this weekend: N/A

5th place and a 12-8 record a year ago, it’s been slow going for the Lions so far this season. Mired in the teams near the foot of the table, BA will no doubt have their eyes on the fact that 8th place is only 2 points away right now and the playoffs are still a firm possibility. Such is the nature of D1W, where the margins between the trouble at the bottom and the potential for the post season are so fine. With no game this weekend, London will also finish for Christmas having played just 7 games, fewer than any team in D1W.

Head Coach Karen Burton, “We have had a steady season where we are exactly where we thought we would be going into the break, As I have stated on numerous occasions it's about development and performance for us. We have had players out due to injury but fingers crossed going into the New Year they are all back on the floor.  Bar the Oxford game, our losses have been in single digits so we are looking to convert that effort into full 40-minute performance, then who knows what will happen.”

 

Team Solent Kestrels

Record: 2-7

Position: 11th

Points For Per Game: 57.8

Points Against Per Game: 62.4

Game this weekend: v Birmingham – Live Stats

Perhaps the talking point of the season to date, the Kestrels completed the 2016/17 season with a 19-1 record to take the D1W regular season title. Beaten Finalists in both the National Cup and the D1W Playoff Final, Solent were still making waves and enjoyed a highly competitive campaign. Fast forward to 2017/18 and it has been a stark contrast. 1 place off the foot of the table and just 2 wins to their name, the side need to put things behind them and start 2018 with a clean slate. A win over Birmingham tomorrow would be huge, and the side play Anglia Ruskin and Loughborough in January, presenting further opportunities to turn things around sooner rather than later.

 

Anglia Ruskin University

Record: 1-8

Position: 12th

Points For Per Game: 53.1

Points Against Per Game: 68.7

Game this weekend: N/A

Last weekend’s 63-60 win over Reading provided Anglia Ruskin with their first victory of the season and gave hope that the side could put a few results together to move off the foot of the D1W standings. Nadege Talva will be integral to that, averaging 20PPG as well as pulling the strings during the win against the Rockets. Waiting for the Rhinos in January are games with Birmingham, Solent and Loughborough. If the side can pick up a few wins there, they’ll surely feel they can push on the rest of the way and move to safety.

Head Coach Matt Harber, "We were very pleased to close our final weekend of play against Reading with a win. Our team and staff have worked very hard to make that result and we showed a lot of qualities and areas where we improved. That feeling and energy will undoubtedly run into the New Year and allow us to approach more games with confidence and a belief we can get across the line with a win.”

 

Main photo credit - B.East Photography