- National Teams
Editors Note: After the success of the Men’s BUCS Final 8’s Preview, Joe Pinchin approached me about writing up a Women’s Final 8’s preview. Women’s basketball is one of the things I have been wanting to add to Hoopsfix for a while, but have had enough on my plate with the men! Huge shout out and thank to Joe for what is a great writeup.
The British basketball community will decend upon Sheffield’s England Institute of sport this weekend for 3 days of great basketball.
The Women’s Final-8s will see some of the top EBL Division 1 teams in the country competing to be the best University Club in the country, four of the eight making up the top half of the table in EBL Division 1. With many international players and EBL Division 1 All Stars suiting up for their respective teams, the Women’s Final-8s are going to be immense
As for championship predictions….throw them out the window. Anything could happen.
Thanks to Matthew Harber for help with the write up
The season has been somewhat frustrating so far for the women’s team from Loughborough, suffering countless injuries to major players and struggling for numbers at critical times throughout the year.
However, with that said the team are a very dedicated and close unit of players who have proved to themselves and other teams that they can play at the highest level when it’s required.
Co-captains, Abi Dempsey and Kara Dougall will look to lead the team throughout the 3 day tournament, through both their leadership and level of play on the floor. Both players are dangerous threats from the perimeter and will force teams to play honest defence and not leave them open. Sheffield Hatter’s Naomi Campbell will also be competing for Loughborough, who earlier in the season struggled with injury, but now is fully fit and back competing at the top level.
However, Loughborough’s team is not based around individuals and their team play will look to force teams to take shots they don’t want to and create their offence through their defence.
Loughborough will not be going into Sheffield as a favorite for the tournament but I can assure you that they can compete amongst the top teams at the tournament and may provide a few surprises.
Abi Dempsey 5’8’’ (G)
Ella Hewton 5’9’’ (G)
Katie Whytock 5’5’’ (G)
Beth Evans 5’5’’ (G)
Christina Lindquist 5’8’’ (F)
Jess Filipson 5’10’’ (F)
Kara Dougall 5’10’’ (F)
Naomi Campbell 5’10’’ (F)
Laura O’Shea 5’11’’ (F)
Alice Rose 6’2’’ (C)
Head Coach: Matthew Harber
Assistant Coach: Charlotte Montebello
Thanks to Damien Jennings for help with the write up
UWIC is the University section of the UWIC Archers EBL Basketball programme based in Cardiff. Programme Lead & Head Coach Damian Jennings has led this double BUCS Championship team to its 3rd unbeaten Premier League season and into another Final 8 BUCS tournament. The roster changes slightly from last years winning team, adding Mia Spasowska (Norwegian International), Marlies Kiefer, Jo Raper & Rebecca Brough (England U18 International).
The leadership still remains through the ever-present Welsh international Sarah Wagstaff, and Great Britain senior team contingent Stef Collins and last years BUCS MVP Meagan Hoffman. With support coming from other Great Britain U20’s Nicki Avery and Leah Dehaan, and Final 8 returnees in Welsh international Kasey Jennings, Annabelle Hardiman and Rachel Woods. Although UWIC’s roster is spread across both UWIC Archers EBL Div 1 & 2 teams this team play enough basketball together throughout the season to gel when it matters.
There is a dynasty for UWIC to build in becoming the first ever 3-peat women’s champions. Leeds Met. Carnegie may be strong favourites on paper as their EBL Div 1 unit is no different to their BUCS outfit but UWIC are not a team that like to lose as proven in their first BUCS championship in 2007-08 where they were 16pts down at half-time against then favourites Team Northumbria to go on and win by 1pt taking their first Championship title back to Cardiff.
Great Britain U20’s & UWIC Head Coach Damian Jennings had this to say;
“I have no doubt this will be one of the most closely contested Finals. Many of the University teams are linked with EBL clubs and we see each other several times through the season. A tournament over 3 days is about so many things; managing accumulative fatigue, doing what it takes to progress, maintaining focus & most importantly leaving nothing out their on the floor until the job is done!”
Mia Spasowska 6’0’’ (G)
Leah Dehaan 5’10” (SG)
Kasey Jennings 5’8” (G/F)
Nicki Avery 5’11” (G/F)
Sarah Wagstaff 5’9” (G)
Marlies Kiefer 5’4” (PG)
Rebecca Brough 5’5” (PG)
Stef Collins 5’7” (PG)
Jo Raper 6’1” (C)
Meagan Hoffman 6’1” (C)
Annabelle Hardiman 5’10” (SF)
Rachel Woods 5’8” (G)
Thanks to James Bambury for help with the write up
After an undefeated BUCS regular season Leeds Met Carnegie will look to improve upon last years 3rd place finish this weekend and James Bambury will not be short of options whilst coaching this weekend. After acquiring Loui Hall, ex EBL Division 1 player of the Year, as well as adding young talent such as Kristie Velasquez-Sheils from Manchester Magic coupled with Assistant Coach Sergio Lara-Bercial , Leeds will look to go head to head with any side. Coach Bambury had this to say on his teams chances this weekend;
“We are extremely excited to be participating in the Final 8s for the 3rd year in a row. The past two seasons couldn’t have been more different in how we walked away from the experience. The first year, we played our way out of Division One upsetting a very strong MMU Cheshire team and then in the semi-finals we ran into a very strong Northumbria University team that boasted our very own Loui Hall. After losing to Northumbria in a 12 point game we went on to defeat London Metropolitan and couldn’t have been happier with the bronze medal. The following year we faced the eventual champions and fellow EBL Division One competitors UWIC in the semi final. After our hotly contested loss to UWIC, a game in which we felt a swing in either direction could have sealed the game at any point for either team, we still went on to win the bronze medal but with a bitter taste in our mouths. This year we know what is in front of us and we will not walk out of the championships satisfied without having proven how good a team we truly are. We understand it will never be an easy road having to play 3 games in 3 days but we feel we are the most prepared for the finals weekend as we have ever been. I urge anyone who is a fan of basketball to come out this weekend and see some of the best men’s and women’s basketball that will be playing in this country all year.”
With Division 1 experience and fresh faces Leeds are a team to watch out for this weekend.
6 – Jodie Readman (5’8” G)
9 – JoAnna Clayden (5’11” G)
10 – Eszter Velkey (5’10” G/F)
11 – Steph Jones (5’6” G/F)
12 – Rian Mansaram (6’0” F)
13 – Kristie Velasquez-Sheils (5’7” G)
14 – Becki Turner (6’1” F)
15 – Charlotte Levitt (6’3” F)
23 – Keesha Tate (5’8” G)
24 – Fanni Feher (5’9” G/F)
25 – Loui Hall (5’11” F)
Coach James Bambury
Coach Sergio Lara-Bercial
Thanks to Beth Wheldon and Becci Parker for help with the write up
After a mixed season of results, third place team Sheffield Hallam went into the play offs after three close games in the Northern Premier League. They went up against a strong Nottingham Trent Uni team containing three EBL Division 1 players but with hard work and determination Sheffield fought for their right to play at the BUCS Final 8s weekend.
The season started out with a good win from a hard game against a strong Loughborough side. Unfortunately however for Hallam, Division 1 competition from Leeds and Northumbria was too much, leading to losses both home and away.
A late addition of Sheffield Hatters player Emma Camp meant that Hallam comfortably beat Birmingham and Nottingham University on both occasions during the year. Their final game against Loughborough was close throughout, but resulted in a narrow miss for Hallam.
Sheffield have shown that team work and team spirit goes a long way in the game and that the pure determination of wanting to do well has given them the opportunity to play in the finals. It will be great to see how there fare over the three days against some of the top teams in the country.
Kirsty Hartley (PF) 5’10
Andrea Fox (SG) 5’6
Helen Francis (PG) 5’5
Bethany Wheldon (SG) 5’9
Claire Doherty (SG) 5’10
Helen Roberts (SG) 5’7
Kate Loftus (C) 6’
Christina Grima (PG) 5’7
Emma Camp (PF) 5’10
Thanks to Lisa Williams for help with the write up and roster
LSBU enter this weekend the only Conference team to make it to Final-8s, however with a perfect record in the regular season and a big win over Premier side Oxford (81-47) the London squad will go in strong and are definitely not a team to underestimate.
The squad contains members of the Brixton lady’s team, after a recent partnership, currently just off of playoff contention in EBL Division 1 so look for LSBU to be able to compete with the top Premier teams.
LSBU will be a tough team for any opponent with smothering defensive pressure and a high tempo game, London South Bank will look to represent themselves as well as their Men’s team have in the past couple of Final-8s.
Danielea Lewis – 5 ‘6 (G)
Thabani Mushipe – 5’8 (F)
Rachel James – 5’2 (G)
Josephine Maignomo – 6’0 (F)
Tereza Prozouva – 5’8 (G)
Michelle Uyinmwen – 5’9 (F)
Lavinia Da Silva – 6’1 (C)
Tara Minto – 6’0 (C)
Achai Biong – 5’11 (F)
Ejay Ofomata – 5’11 (F)
Northumbria entered this season losing two of there starting to five, Sabra Wrice to Nottingham Wildcats (EBL Division 1) and Loui Hall to Leeds Met (BUCS Premier and EBL Division 1). It is a testament to the basketball powerhouse that Northumbria is becoming that they still fielded an excellent team led by the sharp shooting of point guard Ruth Davidson and the powerful play of their import guard Ta’yani Clark whilst maintaining great team basketball principles. Northumbria defence can be suffocating at times leading to turnovers and easy fast break points, something they will hope for against London Met on Friday.
The northern side, under the leadership of Coach Hayes narrowly missed out on a medal at BUCS Finals weekend last year and will definitely be looking to improve on a forth place finish in Sheffield this year. Currently lying fifth in EBL Division 1, Northumbria is one of the 5 National Leagues sides fighting for a medal, and with only two losses in their BUCS season (both came against a strong Leeds Met team), they should go into this weekend confident about their chances of making the final.
Coach Hayes was unavailable to comment on the team on short notice.
Much like this years London Met Men’s team, this side will work and graft there way to winning games against high level opposition, last year beating a strong Leeds Met Carnegie team on route to the finals before succumbing to back-to-back champions, UWIC.
London Metropolitan will be looking to go one better this year but it is not going to be easy. Due to National League clashes the team will be playing five games in four days, with extra game against Birmingham As, on Thursday, and a tough game versus Nottingham Wildcats on Saturday evening. If London Met are going to win it this year it will definitely be on tired legs.
London will going in to this tournament with a 7-3 record losing only to UWIC twice and Oxford once during the regular season.
Following a very mixed season, the Brighton Panthers will be looking towards this weekend hoping that they will be able to pull out a great performance on the first day of the competition. Throughout the season Brighton have struggled to perform against EBL Division 1 competition, very heavy losses to both UWIC and London Met will hang in their minds when they face an arguably stronger Leeds Met Carnegie team on Friday.
Saying this, Brighton have performed very well against the non national league teams and will hope to carry this success into the BUCS weekend and push Leeds Met as far as they can. If victory in the first game does end up being out of reach, Brighton will look to be dangerous in the later stages of the competition and hope to pick up good wins against non national league teams to secure a good placement.
This Brighton team is a clear underdog against the undefeated Leeds but will look to cause the first upset of the competition, and come game day anything can happen.
If you can, make sure you get up to the EIS in Sheffield for what promises to be a top notch 3 days of Women’s British Basketball action. If you can’t make it, there will be regular updates over the three days on my Twitter account, and less regular ones on the Facebook fan page.
Who’s your money on winning the title? Will UWIC create dynasty they envision, or will an underdog such as Brighton come through when it matters the most? Drop a comment and let us know what you think!