Melbourne Boomers player profiles and preview of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season

The Deakin Melbourne Boomers have retained seven members of their 2021/22 WNBL Championship winning main roster for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. The Boomers returning core is headlined by Cayla George and Tess Madgen who were both members of the Australian Opals bronze medal winning team at the 2022 FIBA World Cup in Sydney. After ranking second for the Boomers with 15.0 points per game in 2021/22 American import Tiffany Mitchell is playing her second season for Melbourne in 2022/23. Another four players who each played at least 12 games for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers in 2021/22 are suiting up for the club in 2022/23 – guards Lily Scanlon and Rachel Brewster along with forwards Penina Davidson and Lou Brown.

Four members of the Boomers 2021/22 core rotation wont be playing for the Boomers in 2022/23 with Ezi Magbegor playing for Hungarian club Sopron, Carly Ernst joining WNBL crosstown rivals the Southside Flyers, Izzy Wright retiring and Lindsay Allen joining Gorzow in Poland.

In his ninth consecutive and final season as Deakin Melbourne Boomers head coach Guy Molloy achieved the ultimate success of coaching the club to its second ever WNBL Championship. Molloy is now the Head Coach of the Wellington Saints in New Zealand’s NBL and has continued his role as New Zealand Tall Ferns Head Coach. Earlier this month Molloy coached the Tall Ferns in a Victorian Tour against the three Victorian WNBL clubs which included playing the Melbourne Boomers at Casey Stadium on Saturday 22 October.

Chris Lucas has been appointed the Boomers Head Coach, it will be his 15th season as a head coach in the WNBL. Lucas has coached Adelaide for a total of nine seasons in two stints and Townsville for five seasons from 2011/12 to 2015/16. Townsville won back-to-back WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16. In the off-season the Boomers have recruited Mia Murray who played in Townsville’s three WNBL Championships alongside current Boomers captain George with the Fire winning a third title under Claudia Brassard in 2017/18. Murray won the Rachel Sporn Medal as Grand Final MVP in Townsville’s first WNBL Championship in 2014/15.

For the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season the Deakin Melbourne Boomers have recruited two players that made their WNBA debut in 2022 – point guard Kristy Wallace and centre Olivia Nelson-Ododa. Playing for the Southside Flyers in 2021/22 Wallace won the WNBL’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award. Wallace won a bronze medal with the Australian Opals at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup playing alongside fellow Boomers Madgen and George. Nelson-Ododa played 30 WNBA games for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2022 and averaged 14.5 minutes per game.

Deakin Melbourne Boomers 2021/22 season review

Wins         12

Losses        5

Finished regular season in first place

Defeated Perth Lynx two games to one in the Grand Final series to win the WNBL Championship. 

After the Deakin Melbourne Boomers lost their opening game of the 2021/22 WNBL season to Bendigo Spirit 58-63 the Boomers had three consecutive wins by at least 15 points. The Boomers had 12 wins and five losses during the 2021/22 regular season to win the minor premiership. Six of the Boomers victories were by more than 10 points and four of the five losses were by five points or less.

In a semi final series Melbourne played Adelaide Lightning who finished fourth at the end of the regular season. At half-time of game 1 at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville the Boomers trailed Adelaide 32-47 and the Lightning looked to be in control of the game. The Boomers completely outplayed Adelaide in the second half to register 63 points whilst restricting Adelaide to just 17 points to record a 95-64 victory. In game 2 at The Lights Community and Sports Centre Melbourne defeated Adelaide 61-49 to progress to the WNBL Grand Final for the first time since the 2017/18 season. In the last six quarters of the semi-final series the Boomers played phenomenal defense to restrict Adelaide to just 66 points which equates to a miserly 11 points per quarter.

Melbourne hosted game 1 of the Grand Final series at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville against Perth Lynx who finished second at the end of the regular season with 11 wins and five losses. During the middle stages of the first quarter Perth went on a 15-2 run to gain the ascendency and Melbourne were defeated 71-98. On the road at Bendat Basketball Centre in game 2 Melbourne trailed Perth 25-28 at quarter-time. A buzzer-beating three from Allen on half-time gave Melbourne a 42-39 lead at the main break. With one minute and 50 seconds remaining in the fourth term Melbourne led Perth 71-70. Just over a minute later Allen drove into the key, drew defenders and passed to George who made a three pointer to extend the Boomers lead to 74-70 with 43 seconds to play. Marina Mabrey made a three-pointer for Perth to reduce the margin to one point with 9.6 seconds left. George made two foul shots two seconds later to get the margin back to three points. On an attempted three-pointer to tie the scores Mabrey was fouled with 0.2 seconds left. Mabrey made the first two free-throws with swishes, however the third free-throw was short, hitting the front of the rim, and the Boomers prevailed, winning 76-75 to send the series to a third game. The lead changed 13 times during a highly entertaining game two. Point guard Lindsay Allen was exceptional for the Boomers in game two with 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

In the middle two quarters of game 3 of the Grand Final at home Melbourne outscored Perth Lynx 48-26 and went on to defeat the Lynx 84-66 to win the Deakin Melbourne Boomers second WNBL Championship in club history, having previously won the title in 2010/11. Point guard Allen won the Rachel Sporn medal as the 2021/22 Grand Final Most Valuable Player (MVP). The Boomers became the first team to overcome lose game one and rebound to win a WNBL Grand Final series.

During the 2021/22 WNBL season the Deakin Melbourne Boomers had a potent starting line-up comprised of Australian Opals trio Cayla George, Ezi Magbegor and Tess Madgen along with American import guard duo Lindsay Allen and Tiffany Mitchell. All five Boomers starters averaged more than 10.0 points and 28.0 minutes court-time per game. Highlighting how even the Boomers starting line-up was, the club’s four leading scorers Magbegor 15.4 points, Mittchell 15.0 points, Allen 14.2 points and George 14.1 points all ranked between 12th and 16th in the league for points per game.  Three Melbourne Boomers earned All-WNBL team selection with Magbegor selected in the First Team, George and Allen were both selected in the second team. Allen won the Michele Timms medal as the Boomers 2021/22 Most Valuable Player.

During the 2021/22 WNBL season 11 Boomers players played at least 12 games. Three players – Carley Ernst, Penina Davidson and Izzy Wright all averaged between 14.0 and 15.0 minutes per game. Lily Scanlon, Rachel Brewster and Lou Brown each averaged between 6.0 and 9.0 minutes per game.   

Deakin Melbourne Boomers 2022/23 main roster

Returning:      Rachel Brewster, Lou Brown, Penina Davidson, Cayla George, Tess Madgen, Tiffany Mitchell, Lily Scanlon

Arrivals:              Mia Murray (Townsville Fire – WNBL), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Los Angeles Sparks), Kristy Wallace (Southside Flyers-WNBL)

Departed:           Lindsay Allen (Gorzow – Poland), Carly Ernst (Southside Flyers-WNBL), Ezi Magbegor (Sopron-Hungary), Izzy Wright (retired)

Two Melbourne Boomers starters from 2021/22, Allen and Magbegor are playing in Europe during the 2022/23 season. Allen has joined Gorzow in Poland. Whilst Magbegor is playing for Hungarian club Sopron. Wright retired and Ernst has joined cross-town rivals the Southside Flyers. 

Player                                      Position                    Date of birth                                     

Predicted Starters:         

Kristy Wallace                           Guard                           03/01/1996

Tiffany Mitchell*                       Guard                            23/09/1994

Tess Madgen                              Guard                           12/08/1990

Cayla George                             Forward/Centre            01/05/1989

Olivia Nelson-Ododa*                Centre                          17/08/2000

Main roster members:  

Rachel Brewster                         Guard                              06/01/1997

Lily Scanlon                               Guard                              21/02/2001

Mia Murray                                Forward                           04/08/1988

Penina Davidson                        Forward                           02/09/1995

Lou Brown    Forward 23/07/1995

*= Import

Development Players:

Paige Burrows                              Guard                                 09/04/2005

Sophie Burrows                            Guard                                31/12/2004

Lily Carmody                                Guard                                08/12/2005

Lauryn Hippolite                           Guard                                05/03/2000

Player profiles on all 10 members of Deakin Melbourne Boomers main roster and the four development players for the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season are included later in this article.

Coaches

Chris Lucas                 Head Coach

Kristi Harrower           Assistant Coach

A detailed profile on Melbourne Boomers Head Coach Lucas is included later in this article.

Preview of Deakin Melbourne Boomers 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season

At full strength during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season the Melbourne Boomers are likely to have a starting line-up comprised of Australian Opals trio Cayla George, Tess Madgen and Kristy Wallace along with American import duo Tiffany Mitchell and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. All five Boomers starters have WNBA experience. Whilst the Boomers have arguably the best starting line-up in the WNBL their depth will be tested early as Madgen will miss at least the first month of the season with a knee injury sustained on Australian Opals duties at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup. Mia Murray started 14 of the 17 games she played for Townsville in 2021/22 and is likely to be promoted into the Boomers starting line-up whilst Madgen is on the sidelines.

The remaining four players on the Boomers 2022/23 main roster Penina Davidson, Lou Brown, Lily Scanlon and Rachel Brewster all return after being members of the Boomers 2021/22 Championship winning team.

Having a total of seven players from the Boomers 2021/22 roster suiting up for the club in 2022/23 is an advantage, providing terrific continuity. In his first season as Boomers Head Coach Chris Lucas will implement some different systems to what the Boomers had in 2021/22. Lucas has coached three members of the Boomers team previously in the WNBL – George and Murray at Townsville Fire and Davidson at Adelaide Lightning.

Boomers captain George is one of only two players along with Steph Talbot to earn All-WNBL selection in each of the past three seasons from 2019/20 to 2021/22 which demonstrates the high standard of performance she has consistently delivered. During 2021/22 George ranked second in the league in rebounding and sixth for blocked shots. Whilst 193 centimetre tall George provides a presence in the paint on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court she is also a perimeter threat which is highlighted by Cayla leading the Boomers with 44 three-pointers made in 2021/22 at an accuracy of 37.9%. George’s 2.1 three-pointers made per game in 2021/22 ranked eighth in the WNBL.

Cayla George shooting a free-throw for Melbourne Boomers against Sydney Flames at the State Basketball Centre on 20 February 2022

Tiffany Mitchell is the only import from 2021/22 that is suiting up for their WNBL club again in the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. This continuity will be beneficial for the Boomers, especially early in the season with Madgen on the sidelines with a knee injury. During the 2021/22 WNBL season guard Mitchell made an impact for the Boomers in several facets to rank second for the club in scoring and minutes per game, third for rebounds and steals and fourth for assists. Whilst Mitchell played fewer minutes in the WNBA for the Indiana Fever in 2022 than previous seasons she had her most accurate shooting season from the field and the perimeter.

Tiffany Mitchell running on court during the pre-game introductions for the Melbourne Boomers against the Southside Flyers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 11 December 2021

Over the past two WNBL seasons Tess Madgen has been able to adapt to the role that the Deakin Melbourne Boomers require her to play, predominantly playing as a point guard in the 2020 hub season before playing mainly as a shooting guard/small forward in 2021/22. In 2021/22 Madgen  made 1.7 three-pointers per game, ranked equal 12th in the WNBL. Whilst Madgen being on the sidelines for at least the first month of the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season due to a knee injury is a blow it does provide Head Coach Lucas with time to determine how Madgen’s versatile skill-set can be best utilised upon her return. It is beneficial that Opals captain Madgen was able to play alongside long-term teammate George and new Boomers recruit Wallace as members of the Opals bronze medal winning team at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup.

Tess Madgen playing for Melbourne Boomers against Townsville Fire at the State Basketball Centre on 25 February 2022 and being guarded by Boomers 2022/23 recruit Mia Murray

During the 2021/22 WNBL season Kristy Wallace played predominantly off the bench for the Southside Flyers and was recognised for the impact she had in this role by winning the WNBL’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award. As the Boomers starting point guard Wallace will play a more prominent role in 2022/23 than she did last WNBL season and will be able to draw on her experiences of playing in the WNBA for Atlanta Dream and as a member of the Australian Opals bronze medal winning team at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup. Over the past 12 months Wallace has impressed with her tenacity on defense. During the 2022 WNBA season Wallace made 25 of 68 three-pointers at an accuracy of 36.8%.

American import Olivia Nelson-Ododa was a member of the Los Angeles Sparks core rotation in 2022, averaging 14.5 minutes per game and had a field goal accuracy of 56%. 196 centimetre tall Nelson-Ododa played 133 games in a four season college career with University of Connecticut from 2018/19 to 2021/22 with UConn making the Final Four three times – 2019, 2021 and 2022. Centre Nelson Ododa was selected in the 2022 All-Big East First Team and ranks sixth on UConn’s all-time list for career blocked shots. The Melbourne Boomers starting front-court of George and Nelson-Ododa will have a size advantage against several opposition frontcourts and will complement each other on offense with Nelson-Ododa’s work closer to the basket and George’s outside shooting ability. At the other end of the court Nelson-Ododa and George will be able to make an impact on defense and their ability to block and alter opposition shot attempts.

Mia Murray started 14 of the 17 games she played for Townsville in 2021/22 and is likely to be promoted into the Boomers starting line-up at the start of the season whilst Madgen is on the sidelines. In 2021/22 forward Murray made 1.7 three-pointers per game, ranked equal 12th in the WNBL with Madgen. Murray is playing her 15th WNBL season in 2022/23 and has been teammates with Cayla George and had Lucas as a Head Coach previously at Townsville Fire, including for back to back WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16 with Murray winning the Rachel Sporn medal in 2014/15. Murray is one of only three players on a 2022/23 WNBL roster that have won a Rachel Sporn medal as Grand Final MVP along with Southside Flyers forward Lauren Jackson and University of Canberra Capitals forward Kelsey Griffin.

Forward Penina Davidson is playing her fourth consecutive season for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. In 2021/22 Davidson was a member of the Boomers core rotation averaging 14.5 minutes per game and had a field goal accuracy of 50% – ranked second for the Boomers. Davidson has excelled for the New Zealand Tall Ferns at international level and was her country’s best player at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, ranking third overall for points per game and second in rebounds. Playing for Cairns Dolphins alongside Boomers teammate George during the 2022 NBL1 North season Davidson averaged 11.6 rebounds per game, ranked fourth in the conference.

Lou Brown, Lily Scanlon and Rachel Brewster each averaged between 6.0 and 9.0 minutes per game for the Boomers in 2021/22, however with the Boomers commencing the season with only nine players from their main roster available.

Lou Brown played 16 games for the Boomers in her debut 2021/22 WNBL season and won the Boomers Most Improved Player of the Year award. Playing for Casey in the 2022 NBL1 South season Brown ranked fourth in the conference with 11.6 rebounds per game and also averaged 11.1 points.

21 year old guard Lily Scanlon played 21 of a possible 22 games for the Melbourne Boomers in the 2021/22 WNBL season and averaged 1.9 points and 8.5 minutes per game. With Madgen missing at least the first month of the season with a knee injury Scanlon may get increased court-time early in the season.

During the 2021/22 WNBL season Rachel Brewster played 12 games for the Melbourne Boomers and averaged 6.9 minutes and 1.8 points per game. Brewster won the Deakin University School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences High Performance Player of the Year award. During the 2022 NBL1 South season Brewster played 20 games for Nunawading Spectres and averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. 

After playing shortened seasons in 2020 and 2021/22 due to COVID-19 the WNBL season returns to its usual length with each club playing 21 games during the 2022/23 regular season. All 84 games during the 16 round Cygnett WNBL regular season will be broadcast on television. A Wednesday game each round will be broadcast by ESPN and 68 games will be shown on Nine’s free streaming service 9 Now. The Boomers commence their season and quest to win back-to-back WNBL Championships tonight against the Perth Lynx at Bendat Basketball Centre with the game starting at 9.30pm AEDT and broadcast by ESPN.

The Deakin Melbourne Boomers will be playing 13 games in Victoria during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season including 10 home games. The Boomers will play seven of their home games at Melbourne Sports Stadium, Parkville comprised of six games on a Sunday afternoon and one game on Wednesday night 4 January against crosstown rivals the Southside Flyers. The Deakin Melbourne Boomers will play two home games at the State Basketball Centre in Wantirna and also be the away team for two games at the venue against Southside. The Boomers play a home game at Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) in Traralgon for the second season in a row, hosting the University of Canberra Capitals on Saturday 14 January. On Sunday 8 January Melbourne play a road game against Bendigo Spirit at Red Energy Arena.

Having two All-WNBL players in Allen and Magbegor depart after playing in the Boomers 2021/22 Championship is a major loss however Melbourne have done well to recruit WNBA players Wallace and Nelson-Ododa to fill this roles. The Boomers have a high degree of continuity with seven players from the 2021/22 WNBL Championship winning team suiting up for the Boomers again in 2022/23 including George, Madgen and Mitchell. Due to a knee injury Madgen will miss at least the first month of the season due to a knee injury. Of the eight members of the Opals bronze medal winning team from the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup that are playing in the WNBL in 2022/23 three of them are playing for Melbourne – Opals captain Madgen, George and Wallace which highlights the calibre of players on the Boomers roster.

More detail on Melbourne’s 10 main roster players, four development players and Head Coach Chris Lucas are provided in the profiles section below.

Player profiles for main roster players in alphabetical order of surname

Rachel Brewster    

#6                                                Position: Guard    

DOB  6 January 1997                 Height 180cm                   

Junior Club                                 Nunawading Spectres (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2019/20             WNBL games played: 22 (All for Melbourne Boomers)    

Nationality                                   Australian

Rachel Brewster is playing her fourth consecutive WNBL season for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. Brewster played a total of 10 games as a development player for the Boomers across the 2019/20 and 2020 seasons before being promoted to the club’s main roster for the 2021/22 season.

Brewster played junior basketball with the Nunawading Spectres and Melbourne Tigers and has also represented the Spectres at senior level in NBL1 South. Brewster attended high school at Rowville Sports Academy.

From 2015/16 to 2018/19 Brewster played four seasons of Division 1 College basketball as a guard for Utah State University. Against Nevada on 30 January 2016 Brewster scored a season-high 20 points. In her freshman 2015/16 season with Utah State University Brewster played 31 games including 30 as a starter and averaged 9.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Brewster was named in the 2015/16 Mountain West all-freshman team. In 2016/17 Brewster led Utah State University with 13.4 points per game. During her college career Brewster played 126 games including 115 as a starter for Utah State University and averaged 10.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 28.2 minutes per game. At Utah State Brewster “Ranks fourth all-time in scoring with 1,303 career points.”1

After completing college Brewster returned to the Nunawading Spectres and played 13 games for the club in the inaugural 2019 NBL1 South season and was a member of the Spectres team that made a preliminary final. The 2020 NBL1 South season was cancelled due to COVID-19. For the Nunawading Spectres during the 2021 NBL1 South season Brewster played 14 games, averaging 14.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

After signing a full professional contract with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers for the 2021/22 season Brewster commented This will be my third season with the Boomers. It’s a great feeling to be a part of the playing group. I’m just really grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to learn and develop alongside incredible players and continue to do so with the Boomers. I can’t thank the coaching staff enough for their patience and belief in me.”2

Against the UC Capitals on 19 March 2022 Brewster scored eight points at a field goal accuracy of 60% for the Melbourne Boomers, took two rebounds and had one assist in 10 minutes and 56 seconds court-time. In 2021/22 Brewster played 12 games for the Boomers and averaged 6.9 minutes and 1.8 points per game as a member of the Boomers WNBL Championship winning team. At the Boomers End of Season Awards Brewster won the Deakin University School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences High Performance Player of the Year award.

Rachel Brewster shooting a three-pointer for Melbourne Boomers against Townsville Fire at the State Basketball Centre on 25 February 2022

On 5 June 2022 playing for Nunawading in an NBL1 South game at the Nunawading Basketball Centre Brewster scored an equal game-high 16 points, made four of nine three-pointers at an accuracy of 44.4%, took eight rebounds and made a game-high three steals. During the 2022 NBL1 South season Brewster played 20 games for Nunawading Spectres and averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. 

WNBL Achievements:           WNBL Championship 2021/22 (with Melbourne Boomers)

Lou Brown    

#7                                            Position: Forward    

DOB 23/07/1995                    Height 187cm                   

Junior Club                             Nunawading Spectres (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2021/22           WNBL games played: 16 (All for Melbourne Boomers)    

Nationality                               Australian

Lou Brown played most of her junior basketball for the Nunawading Spectres in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and has also represented the club at senior level, including during the 2021 NBL1 South season. Brown attended high school at Rowville Sports Academy.

At the 2012 FIBA Under 17 World Championships Brown represented the Australian Sapphires, led the team in rebounds, ranked fourth for steals and minutes played and equal fifth for scoring. Brown was also a member of the Australian Gems bronze medal winning team at the 2013 FIBA Under 19 World Championships in Lithuania.

Brown spent time at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and was then in the US Collegiate system for six years, at Washington State University from 2014/15 to 2017/18 and at University of Tennessee in 2018/19 and 2019/20. Brown had two red-shirt seasons at college due to a season ending foot injury in 2016/17 and then a torn ACL in 2018/19. During her college career Brown played 126 games, including 101 starts, averaging 5.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

During the 2021 NBL1 South season Brown played for the Nunawading Spectres alongside fellow Melbourne Boomers forward Penina Davidson, coached by then Boomers assistant coach Paul Flynn. In the 2021 NBL1 South season Brown played 14 games for the Spectres and averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game.

Brown made her WNBL debut with the Melbourne Boomers at 26 years of age in 2021/22. Against the Bendigo Spirit on 19 December Brown scored her first WNBL points, making both field goal attempts to score four points and took one rebound. In Brown’s only start for the season against Perth Lynx at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) in Traralgon on 6 February Brown took a season-high six rebounds, made two assists and blocked one shot. Brown played 16 games for the Boomers in 2021/22 and averaged 0.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 6.4 minutes per game. Brown won the Boomers Most Improved Player of the Year award.

Lou Brown playing for Melbourne Boomers against Townsville Fire at the State Basketball Centre on 25 February 2022

Playing as a starting forward for the Casey Cavaliers during the 2022 NBL1 South season Brown registered seven double-doubles. In a home against eventual NBL1 South Champions, Ringwood Hawks at Casey Stadium on 16 July Brown scored 11 points and took an incredible game-high 25 rebounds – only six less than the entire Ringwood team combined, had two assists and blocked an equal game-high two shots. In Casey’s final game for the season at Casey Stadium on 30 July Brown scored 20 points at a field goal accuracy of 72.7% took a game-high 17 rebounds and had five assists in a 105-93 victory. Brown played 18 games for Casey in the 2022 NBL1 South season and averaged 11.1 points, a team-high 11.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Brown ranked fourth in NBL1 South for rebounds per game behind Anneli Maley, Keely Froling and Kelsey Griffin.

WNBL Achievements:           WNBL Championship 2021/22 (with Melbourne Boomers)

Penina Davidson                                                  

#12                                        Position: Forward    

DOB 02/09/1995                  Height 190cm                   

Junior Club                           Waitakere (New Zealand)     

WNBL debut: 2018/19          WNBL games played: 76     

Nationality                             New Zealand

Penina Davidson was born and grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and played junior basketball for Waitakere. Davidson represented the junior Tall Ferns at several tournaments including the 2012 FIBA Oceania Championships where she excelled to be named the New Zealand Player of the Tournament. As a teenager Davidson made her debut for New Zealand’s senior women’s basketball team, the Tall Ferns in 2013.

From 2014/15 to 2017/18 Davidson played four seasons of College basketball for the University of California, Berkeley as a forward. After having eight starts in her sophomore 2015/16 season and 25 starts in her junior 2016/17 season Davidson started all 32 games for the Bears in her senior 2017/18 season. Davidson registered three double-doubles in 2017/18 including a 22 points making nine of 11 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 81.8% and 10 rebounds in a road game against Pacific on 10 December 2017. Davidson played 131 games for University of California including 65 as a starter and averaged 5.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 20.4 minutes per game during her career. 

During 2018/19 Davidson made her WNBL debut with Adelaide Lightning, current Boomers Head Coach Chris Lucas was the Lightning’s head coach. In 2018/19 Davidson was a member of the Adelaide Lightning team that made the Grand Final, playing 25 games for the season and averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

During the 2020 WNBL season with the Melbourne Boomers Davidson averaged 5.0 points and 1.6 rebounds per game in 9.0 minutes per game and had a field goal accuracy of 51.1%  – ranked second at the Boomers behind Ezi Magbegor.

Penina Davidson shooting a free throw for Melbourne Boomers against Adelaide Lightning at the State Basketball Centre on 22 December 2019

During 2019 Davidson represented New Zealand in both the traditional five on five format of basketball and the newer 3×3 format. Group A for the 2019 FIBA Women’s Pre Olympic Qualifying Tournaments Asia-Oceania was held in Auckland. In New Zealand’s third and final game Davidson scored 24 points and took 15 rebounds to set game-highs in both categories in a 69-65 victory against Korea. Davidson shot the ball at 57.9% from the field made three assists and blocked an equal game-high three shots. Davidson played all three games for the Tall Ferns and averaged 16.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Davidson led the eight nation tournament for rebounds per game and ranked fourth in scoring. At the 2019 Basketball New Zealand Awards Davidson won the Female Player of the Year award and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award. 

Davidson is a fixture in the New Zealand Tall Ferns team and plays a more prominent role for her National team then she does with the Boomers. At the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup in Jordan Davidson scored a game-high 26 points, making 10 of 13 field goal attempts at an accuracy of 76.9%, made both three-pointers and took seven rebounds in the Tall Ferns 74-59 victory against Chinese Taipei. At the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Davidson averaged 15.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shots per game to lead the New Zealand Tall Ferns in all three categories. Davidson ranked third overall at the tournament for points per game, second for rebounds and equal eighth for blocked shots.

Playing for the Melbourne Boomers against the Bendigo Spirit on 19 December 2021 Davidson scored 10 points at an accuracy of 57.1% from the field and took six rebound. Against the Perth Lynx at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) in Traralgon on 6 February Davidson scored 13 points, took eight rebounds including a team-high five offensive rebounds and blocked three shots. Davidson was a member of the Boomers WNBL Championship winning team in 2021/22 and played 15 games for the season four games as a starter and averaged 4.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 14.7 minutes per game.

Penina Davidson playing for Melbourne Boomers against Townsville Fire at the State Basketball Centre on 25 February 2022

During the 2022 NBL1 North season Davidson played for the Cairns Dolphins alongside Boomers teammate George.   Davidson played 18 games for the Dolphins as a starting forward and averaged 19.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.1 blocked shots per game, ranked second for the Dolphins in all four categories behind George. Davidson also ranked fourth in the conference for rebounds and averaged 3.6 assists per game, ranked fourth for Cairns.

Forward Davidson will be playing her fifth WNBL season overall in the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season and fourth consecutive season with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers, having previously played one season with the Adelaide Lightning in 2018/19. In a pre-season game for the Melbourne Boomers on 22 October Davidson played at Casey Stadium against a New Zealand team that was coached by Molloy and included Boomers Development player Lauryn Hippolite.

Penina Davidson shooting a three-pointer for the Melbourne Boomers in a pre-season game against New Zealand at Casey Stadium on 22 October 2022

WNBL Achievements:           WNBL Championship 2021/22 (with Melbourne Boomers)

Cayla George                                    

#22                                                Position: Forward/Centre        

DOB  1 May 1989                        Height 193cm                    

Junior Club                                   Eastern Mavericks (South Australia) 

WNBL debut: 2005/06               WNBL games played: 306     

Nationality                                   Australian

Cayla George (nee Francis) is plating her fifth consecutive season with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers and 15th season overall during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season. In 2021/22 forward/centre George became the 23rd player in league history to reach 300 games.

Cayla George playing for Melbourne Boomers against Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre in a pre-season game on 5 October 2019

Apart from her rookie WNBL season with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 2005/06 forward/centre Cayla George has averaged more than 8.0 rebounds per game in each season and ranks third on the All-time list for most career rebounds in the WNBL behind Rachel Sporn and Suzy Batkovic.

George has played in four WNBL Championships comprised of three for Townsville Fire in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18 and one for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers in 2021/22 as club captain. New Boomers recruit Mia Murray was a teammate of George’s for all three Townsville Fire WNBL Championships with new Boomers Head Coach Chris Lucas the Head Coach of Townsville’s back-to-back WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16. On 8 May 2015 Cayla married her partner, Kailou George who is a Torres Straight Islander.

George has had two top three finishes in the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player Award, being runner-up in 2014/15 and finished third in 2019/20. From 2019/20 to 2021/22 George is one of only two players along with Opals team-mate Steph Talbot to earn All-WNBL selection in all three seasons, being named in the All-WNBL first team in 2020 and the All-WNBL second team in 2019/20 and 2021/22. During her decorated career George has earnt selection in an All-WNBL team four times, having been selected in the First team in 2014/15.   

Cayla George playing for Townsville Fire against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017

During an outstanding 2020 WNBL season George displayed her all-round skill-set to rank second in the league for rebounds, in the top seven for blocked shots and in the top 15 for scoring, assists and steals.

From 2014 to 2021 George was one of only two players along with point guard Tessa Lavey to represent the Australian Opals at all four major championships comprised of the 2014 World Cup in Turkey, 2018 World Cup in Spain, 2016 Rio Olympic Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. In three of the four major championships George has ranked in the top three for the Opals in rebounding with the exception being the 2016 Olympic Games. George was part of the Australian Opals starting line-up at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on home soil in Queensland. Australia defeated England 99-55 in the Gold medal game, George scored an equal game-high 16 points and took 10 rebounds to be the only player in the gold medal game that registered a double-double.

George played a significant role in the Opals defeating Spain in the semi final at the 2018 World Cup. With scores tied at 64 apiece with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter George scored the next five points of the game comprised of two free-throws and a corner three to gain the ascendancy for the Opals who went on to win the semi final 72-66.

At the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games George played a crucial role to ensure that the Opals defeated Puerto Rico by the required margin in their final group game to advance to the quarter finals. At the Tokyo Olympic Games George was superb, leading the Australian Opals for scoring (13.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) per game, ranked equal second for steals and third for assists.

Playing for the Mackay Meteorettes during the 2021 NBL1 North season George averaged 22.4 points, 16.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game to win the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.

On 17 January 2021 George scored the 4,000th point of her WNBL career, becoming just the 12th player in league history to reach this significant milestone. During the 2021/22 WNBL season for the Championship winning Melbourne Boomers George averaged 14.1 points, 10.6 rebounds (ranked 2nd in the WNBL), 3.1 assists, 0.9 blocked shots (equal 6th) and 31.7 minutes (12th) per game. George won the Melbourne Boomers Members’ Player of the Year award for the third consecutive season.

Cayla George making a jump shot for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers against the Southside Flyers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 15 January 2022

During the 2022 NBL1 season George played 15 games for the Cairns Dolphins and averaged 23.3 points, 16.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. George ranked second in NBL1 North for rebounds per game, third in assists, fourth in scoring and was selected in the NBL1 North All-Star Five.

In May 2020 George told Milestones and Misses “Honestly, playing for the Opals is like my favourite thing to do ever, wearing the green and gold is something that is just like so humbling and so rewarding and it is just the biggest adrenaline rush ever, especially when there is so much pressure on the Opals because of the legacy before us and I love that pressure. I love that I am a part of that legacy, I love that we have expectations on us and yes that can sometimes be really daunting but that pressure, when you succeed with that type of pressure on you it is just like euphoria, it is just incredible, back in 2018 when we won the silver medal, when we beat Spain to make the gold medal game, like that type of euphoria.”

George was one of three Melbourne Boomers players that represented Australia at the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney along with Opals captain Madgen and Wallace. In the quarter final George scored a game-high 19 points shooting at 53.35 from the field and took an equal game-high nine rebounds in the Opals 86-69 victory against Belgium.

At the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney George was a member of the bronze medal winning Australian Opals team. At the tournament George played all eight games and averaged 8.6 points (ranked 5th for the Opals), 5.6 rebounds (2nd) and 20.0 minutes per game (5th).

In October 2022 Cayla and her husband Kailou became parents. Kailou’s sister gave birth to a daughter Pearl who she gifted to Cayla and Kailou. This Torres Straight Island practice of adoption is known as Kupai Omasker. In an article published on 22 September Cayla told ABC News “In their culture, for generations, Island adoption has been very common. So essentially, if someone in the family has struggled to fall pregnant or is unable to fall pregnant, another family member can choose to gift a baby to that person. She will be our own, she’s our daughter and we cannot wait, we are just over the moon.”3

Below is a link to the article published on Milestones and Misses on 22 January 2022 to celebrate George scoring reaching 4,000 career points in the WNBL:

WNBL Achievements:            All-WNBL First Team 2014/15, 2020

                                                All-WNBL Second Team 2019/2020, 2021/22

                                                Betty Watson Rookie of the Year Award 2006/07

                                                WNBL Championship 2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18 (with Townsville Fire) 2021/22 (with Melbourne Boomers)

Tess Madgen                                     

#9                                            Position: Guard

DOB  12 August 1990            Height 180cm 

Junior Club                             Eastern Mavericks (South Australia)             

WNBL debut: 2008/09          WNBL games played: 246    

Nationality                              Australian

Madgen grew up in Williamstown, a small town in the Barossa Valley, South Australia and has two brothers that also played basketball, older brother Ben and younger brother Jack. Tess played junior basketball for the Eastern Mavericks alongside current Melbourne Boomers and Australian Opals teammate Cayla George. At 18 years of age Madgen made her WNBL debut with the Australian Institute of Sport in 2008/09 and played a total of 38 games in two seasons for the AIS. Tess’ older brother Ben played basketball in the NBL and in 2012/13 playing for the Sydney Kings led the league in scoring and was named in the All-NBL First team. Younger brother Jack switched from basketball to Australia Rules Football and played 49 games as a defender for Collingwood in the AFL.  

After graduating from the AIS Tess played two WNBL seasons for Bendigo Spirit in 2010/11 and 2011/12 and two seasons for Townsville Fire in 2018/19 and 2019/20 in between two stints with the Melbourne Boomers. During 2021/22 Madgen played her sixth WNBL season with the Boomers and 12th season overall in the league. Throughout her WNBL career Madgen has been a consistent scorer, averaging more than 11.5 points per game in nine of her 12 seasons including four seasons above 15.0 points per game.

Tess Madgen playing for Townsville Fire against Melbourne Boomers at the State Basketball Centre on 18 November 2018

In 2015 Madgen had a short stint in the WNBA playing eight games with Phoenix Mercury alongside George with Sandy Brondello as the head coach. Madgen played in Poland for AZS UMCS Lublin in 2016/17 but in the fourth quarter of the club’s first finals game for the season suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury and required a knee reconstruction.

After rehabilitating from her knee injury Madgen made her basketball return during Australia’s 2018 winter season playing 10 games for the Dandenong Rangers in the South East Australian Basketball League.

Madgen made her Australian Opals debut at the 2011 FIBA Oceania Championships against New Zealand and also represented Australia at the 2013 and 2015 Oceania Championships. After narrowly missing selection for Australian Opals teams at major championships including the 2016 Rio Olympics Madgen made her major championships debut as part of the Australian Opals silver medal winning team at the 2018 World Cup in Spain. Madgen played all four games for the Australian Opals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Madgen returned to the Melbourne Boomers for the 2020 WNBL season and playing predominantly as a point guard averaged 6.2 assists per game to rank second in the WNBL in this category. In the 2020 WNBL season Madgen averaged more than 13.0 points per game for the seventh time of her career to earn selection in the All-WNBL second team, the second All-WNBL honour of her career, having previously been selected in the All-WNBL first team for her 2014/15 season with the Melbourne Boomers.

With the return of point guard Lindsay Allen to the Boomers for the 2021/22 season Madgen played mainly as a shooting guard/small forward. After playing junior basketball together with the Eastern Mavericks Madgen and George have gone on to play WNBL basketball, WNBA basketball and represent the Opals together. In April this year they were both starters on the Melbourne Boomers team that won the WNBL Championship. In 2021/22 Madgen made 1.7 three-pointers per game, ranked equal 12th in the WNBL with Boomers new recruit for the 2022/23 season Mia Murray. At the Melbourne Boomers 2021/22 End of Season Awards Madgen won the Coaches Player of the Year award.

Tess Madgen playing for the Melbourne Boomers against the Southside Flyers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 11 December 2021

At the World Cup Qualifying Tournament held in Belgrade, Serbia in February this year Madgen averaged 2.3 assists per game, ranked equal fourth for the Opals. During the three game series held in New South Wales against Japan in late May this year Madgen and George were the two most experienced members of the Opals team and played an important role with their leadership. After Game 2 against Japan Madgen commented “I think I play better when I try and help everyone else so I am just focussing on that at the moment and trying to make it enjoyable, trying to build this new culture, we are doing a really great job across the board.”

During the 2022 NBL1 South season Madgen played 16 games for the Bendigo Braves, averaging 28.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Madgen ranked second in the NBL1 South women’s conference in scoring and third in assists. The Bendigo Braves made the Grand Final and Madgen was selected in the NBL1 South women’s All Star 5.

Tess Madgen playing for Bendigo Braves against Ringwood Hawks at the State Basketball Centre on 3 September 2022 in the NBL1 South Grand Final

On September 8 at the Opals final training camp on the Gold Coast before the World Cup head coach Sandy Brondello announced that Madgen had been appointed as the Opals captain for the 2022 World Cup. Madgen spoke to the Opals playing group and staff commenting “Obviously our leadership group right from the beginning wanted to lead by empowering everyone to be a leader and that’s something I’m extremely passionate about. I’m going to be the best captain I can be, it’s a huge honour and I’m really overwhelmed. I love you guys, let’s do this.” 

In Australia’s second group game of the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Sydney against Mali Madgen scored 13 points, made four of five field goals at an accuracy of 80% and made an equal game-high five assists. In the Opals fourth group game they played Canada who had won their first three games of the tournament. In the last four minutes of the second quarter Madgen made two three-pointers to help the Opals go on a 19-0 run to turn a 19-33 deficit into a 38-33 lead at half-time. The Opals went on to defeat Canada 75-72. In the Opals final group game against Japan Madgen made a game-high six assists and took six rebounds.

The Opals met Canada again in the bronze medal game and won in convincing fashion, 95-65 to win the bronze medal. Opals captain Madgen played all eight games for the tournament off the bench and ranked third for Australia with 2.9 assists per game and seventh with 17.5 minutes court-time per game.

In an article published on wnbl.basketball on 28 October the Melbourne Boomers stated that Madgen “has undergone surgery for a knee injury arising from the Opals campaign at the recent FIBA Women’s World Cup. Madgen is expected to miss at least the first month of the Cygnet WNBL 22-23 Season which commences next week.”4 In Madgen’s fourth game after her return from the knee injury she will play her 250th WNBL game.

WNBL Achievements:            All-WNBL First team 2014/15

                                                  All-WNBL Second team 2020

                                                  WNBL Championship 2021/22 (with Melbourne Boomers)

Tiffany Mitchell                                

#25                                           Position: Guard    

DOB  23/09/1994                    Height 175cm                   

WNBL debut: 2021/22            WNBL games played: 22 (All for Melbourne Boomers)    

Nationality                               American

The feature image for this article is of Tiffany Mitchell shooting a free-throw for Melbourne Boomers against Sydney Flames at the State Basketball Centre on 20 February 2022

Tiffany Mitchell was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States of America. During her freshman 2012/13 college basketball season for South Carolina Gamecocks Tiffany Mitchell played 33 games including 30 as a starter and averaged 9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game to earn selection in the SEC All-Freshman team. Mitchell took her game to another stratosphere in her 2013/14 sophomore season, playing 34 games, all as a starter and averaged 15.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game whilst having field goal accuracy of 49.3% and a three-point accuracy of 54.1%. For her exceptional 2013/14 season Mitchell won the SEC’s Player of the Year Award and was named to the SEC All-Defensive team.

During both her 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons with South Carolina Mitchell averaged more than 14.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Mitchell was named the SEC’s Player of the Year for the second year in a row in 2014/15. During an outstanding college career Mitchell was named in the All-SEC First Team in three consecutive seasons from 2013/14 to 2015/16. Mitchell was a member of the South Carolina team that made the NCAA Final Four in 2015. South Carolina won the SEC Women’s tournament in 2016 and Mitchell won the tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. 

Over her four season College basketball career for South Carolina Gamecocks from 2012/13 to 2015/16 in the Southeastern Conference Mitchell played 139 games and had 135 starts, averaging 13.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Mitchell was a member of the South Carolina team that made the NCAA Final Four in 2015. The profile for Mitchell on South Carolina’s website says “Most decorated women’s basketball player in program history, including winning the University President’s Award, the highest annual award given to a Gamecock student-athlete for his/her cumulative career accomplishments in academics, athletics, service and leadership.”5

As a member of the United States of America team at the 2014 Basketball 3×3 World Championship held in Russia Mitchell won a gold medal with USA winning all nine games they played at the tournament. In 2015 Mitchell was a member of the USA’s silver medal winning team at the 2015 Pan-American Games.  At the 2020 FIBA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournaments held in Serbia in February 2020 Mitchell was as member of the USA team that won all three games.

At the 2016 WNBA Draft Indiana Fever selected Mitchell in the first round with the ninth pick overall. In 2016 Mitchell averaged 8.6 points per game, had a free-throw accuracy of 91.1% and was selected in the WNBA’s 2016 All-Rookie team. In six consecutive WNBA seasons from 2016 to 2021 Mitchell averaged more than 8.5 points per game and at least 20.0 minutes court-time per game for the Indiana Fever. Mitchell played fewer minutes for Indiana Fever in 2022 with 16.3 minutes per game but had a field goal accuracy of 45.1 from the field and 38.7% for three-pointers to set new career-highs in both categories.

During a seven-season WNBA career with the Indiana Fever shooting guard Mitchell has averaged 9.6 points per game, playing 209 regular season games, including 95 starts.

Mitchell has played in overseas leagues in Israel, Russia and Turkey. Mitchell joined Israel club  Elitzur Ramla late in 2018/19 and also played for the club in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Mitchell played three Eurocup games for Elitzur Ramla in 2020/21 and averaged 20.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

On her decision to sign with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers Mitchell told wnbl.basketball “What led me to sign with the Boomers is hearing nothing but positive things about the country and the organisation. I always try to find a home away from home, since going overseas is hard for me. So, the culture the Boomers create between competitive basketball and a family atmosphere is everything I look for in choosing a team. Australia is beautiful so of course having time to sight see (will be a great experience). But my main my goal is to help bring a championship back to the Boomers!”6

Tiffany Mitchell playing for the Melbourne Boomers against Perth Lynx at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium on 6 February 2022

Mitchell achieved her goal and was a member of the Melbourne Boomers 2021/22 WNBL  Championship winning team. In her second WNBL game for the Boomers against Southside Flyers on 11 December Mitchell scored a game-high 22 points, took an equal team-high nine rebounds and made five assists in a 91-72 victory at Melbourne Sports Centres, Parkville. Against Bendigo Spirit on 19 December Mitchell scored a game-high and season-high 25 points, shooting at 76.9% from the field in a Boomers 81-56 victory at Red Energy Arena. During the 2021/22 WNBL season Mitchell played 22 games for the Boomers and averaged 15.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Mitchell ranked second for Melbourne in scoring and minutes per game, third for rebounds and steals and fourth for assists.   

Tiffany Mitchell shooting a jump-shot for Melbourne Boomers against Townsville Fire at the State Basketball Centre on 25 February 2022

WNBL Achievements:           WNBL Championship 2021/22 (with Melbourne Boomers)

Mia Murray

#10                                              Position: Forward    

DOB  4 April 1988                     Height 182cm                   

Junior Club                                 Forestville Eagles (South Australia)     

WNBL debut: 2005/06             WNBL games played: 321     

Nationality                                  Australian

Mia Murray (nee Newley) played junior basketball for the Forestville Eagles in South Australia. At 17 years of age Murray made her WNBL debut with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), playing two games in 2005/06. Murray played a total of 44 games for the AIS over the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons, averaging 10.6 points per game in the latter season.

Murray was a member of the Australian Gems team alongside George at the 2007 FIBA Under 19 Women’s World Championships held in the Slovak Republic. Australia finished fifth at the tournament and Murray ranked fifth for the Gems in scoring and minutes played.

From 2008/09 to 2010/11 Murray returned to her home state of South Australia and played three WNBL seasons for Adelaide Lightning. Murray played 22 games for Adelaide in 2010/11 and averaged 12.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game to set new career-highs in both categories.

Murray joined Townsville Fire and in seven consecutive WNBL seasons for the club from 2011/12 to 2017/18 played a total of 174 games for the club. During this time Murray played in three WNBL Championships for Townsville alongside current Boomers captain Cayla George in 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18. Current Boomers Head Coach Chris Lucas was the Head Coach for Townsville’s first two Championship winning teams and Claudia Brassard was the coach of Townsville’s 2017/18 title winning team. In the 2014/15 Grand Final Murray scored a game-high 23 points shooting at 50% from the field, made three of five three-pointers, took seven rebounds and made three assists in Townsville’s 75-65 victory against Bendigo to win the Rachel Sporn medal as Grand Final Most Valuable Player (MVP). In eight consecutive WNBL seasons from 2010/11 to 2017/18 Murray averaged more than 7.5 points per game. 

Mia Murray playing for Townsville Fire against Perth Lynx at the State Basketball Centre on 26 November 2017

In 2018/19 and 2019/20 Murray didn’t play in the WNBL. In October 2019 Murray had a son, Sidney. Murray returned to play for Townsville Fire in the 2020 and 2021/22 WNBL seasons, in both seasons Murray averaged more than 5.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 20.0 minutes court-time per game. Late in the 2020 season Murray reached the significant milestone of playing 300 WNBL games. In 2021/22 Murray made 1.7 three-pointers per game, ranked equal 12th in the WNBL with Tess Madgen.

Mia Murray shooting a free-throw for Townsville Fire against the Melbourne Boomers at Melbourne Sports Centres Parkville on 22 January 2022

During the 2022 NBL1 North season Murray was a member of the Townsville Flames team that won the NBL1 North Championship and progressed to compete in the NBL1 National Finals at the State Basketball Centre. During the 2022 NBL1 North season Murray played 21 games for Townsville Fire and averaged 11.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. 

Mia Murray shooting a three-pointer for Townsville Flames against Albury Wodonga Bandits in an NBL1 National Finals game at the State Basketball Centre on 10 September 2022

Murray has played 321 WNBL games and is one of three players on a 2022/23 WNBL roster that have played over 300 WNBL games along with University of Canberra Capitals guard Kelly Wilson (411 games) and Boomers captain Cayla George (306). Playing for the Townsville Fire alongside George and with current Melbourne Head Coach Chris Lucas as Townsville Head Coach Murray played in back-to-back WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16.

WNBL Achievements:           Rachel Sporn Medal 2014/15

                                                WNBL Championship 2014/15, 2015/16, 2017/18 (with Townsville Fire)

Olivia Nelson-Ododa                                    

#5                                             Position: Centre 

DOB  17 August 2000             Height 196cm                   

Will be making WNBL debut in 2022/23          

Nationality                               American

Olivia Nelson-Ododa was born in Lansing, Michigan, United States of America. Olivia’s father Sebastian played basketball for the Kenyan National team.

At the 2016 FIBA Under 17 Women’s World Championships held in Zaragoza Spain, centre Olivia Nelson-Ododa was a member of the USA’s bronze medal winning team. In a semi final loss to Australia Nelson-Ododa scored a team-high 17 points at a field goal accuracy of 75% and took 10 rebounds. Nelson-Ododa led USA at the World Championships with 12.0 points per game, had a team-high field goal accuracy of 56.9%, 9.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game to rank second for USA in the latter two categories. Olivia ranked sixth at the tournament for rebounds per game and 11th in scoring.

From 2018/19 to 2021/22 Nelson-Ododa played four seasons of college basketball for the University of Connecticut Huskies. As a freshman Nelson-Ododa played 38 games including four as a starter in 2018/19 and averaged 4.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. In all three seasons for UConn from 2019/20 to 2021/22 Nelson-Ododa averaged at least 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

University of Connecticut competed in the American Athletic Conference in 2018/19 and 2019/20 before competing in the Big East Conference in 2020/21 and 2021/22. In all four of Nelson-Ododa’s seasons at University of Connecticut were the regular season champions and tournament champions for their conference. Nelson-Ododa was a member of three UConn teams that competed in the NCAA Final four, losing in the final four in 2019 and 2021 and were runners-up in 2022. Nelson-Ododa was selected in the 2021 Big East All-Tournament team.

Nelson-Ododa played 133 games for University of Connecticut including 96 as a starter and averaged 8.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 blocked shots per game. In 2021 Nelson-Ododa was named the Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year and was selected in the All-Big East Second Team. 196 centimetre tall Nelson-Ododa was selected in the 2022 All-Big East First Team.

At the 2022 WNBA Draft the Los Angeles Sparks selected Nelson-Ododa with pick 19. In a road game against New York Liberty on 2 August 2022 Nelson-Ododa made six of seven field goal attempts at an accuracy of 85.7%, scored a season-high 12 points, took four rebounds and made three steals in 24 minutes court-time. The following day in another road game against the Liberty Nelson-Ododa scored eight points at 60% from the field, took a season-high 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. During the 2022 WNBA season Nelson-Ododa played 30 games for the Los Angeles Sparks and averaged 4.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 blocked shots and 14.5 minutes per game.

In the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season Nelson-Ododa will be playing her first season in the league with the Deakin Melbourne Boomers.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa shooting a jump-shot for the Melbourne Boomers in a pre-season game against New Zealand at Casey Stadium on 22 October 2022

Lily Scanlon                                    

#8                                             Position: Guard    

DOB  21/02/2001                    Height 175cm                   

Junior Club                               Bulleen Boomers (Victoria)     

WNBL debut: 2019/20             WNBL games played: 35

Nationality                                Australian

Guard Lily Scanlon commenced her junior basketball career with Sunbury. In the under 14’s Scanlon played for the Bulleen Boomers in the Eastern Districts Junior Basketball Association (EDJBA) and continued her junior career with the Boomers.

Scanlon received a scholarship to the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence in Canberra and represented Australia at under-age level at several tournaments. Scanlon was a member of the Australian team at the 2019 FIBA Under 19 World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand that won a silver medal, losing the final to USA 70-74. At the tournament Scanlon ranked second for the Gems in assists and fifth for minutes played. Scanlon also played for the BA CoE at state league level. On 22 June 2019 Scanlon scored 20 points for BA CoE in an NBL1 game against Melbourne Tigers. In December 2019 Scanlon graduated from the Centre of Excellence

In 2019/2020 Scanlon made her WNBL debut at 18 years of age for the University of Canberra Capitals as a development player, playing 14 WNBL games for the Capitals who won the WNBL championship.

Scanlon played one season of College basketball for Gonzaga University in 2020/21. On debut for Gonzaga on 29 November 2020 Scanlon scored an equal season-high seven points, making three of five field goal attempts and had three assists in a home game against South Carolina. Scanlon played 21 games in her freshman college season at Gonzaga University in 2020/21 and averaged 2.3 points and 7.8 minutes per game.

During the 2021/22 WNBL season Scanlon played 21 of a possible 22 games for the Championship winning Deakin Melbourne Boomers. Against Perth Lynx at Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS) in Traralgon Scanlon scored a season-high eight points, took two rebounds, made four assists and one steal.  For the Boomers in 2021/22 Scanlon averaged 1.9 points and 8.5 minutes per game.

Lily Scanlon shooting a three-pointer for Melbourne Boomers against Sydney Flames at the State Basketball Centre on 20 February 2022

Kristy Wallace

#3                                             Position: Guard

DOB  3 January 1996              Height 180cm      

Junior Club                              Southern District Spartans (Queensland)                             

WNBL debut: 2018/19            WNBL games played: 16       

At the 2013 Under 18 Australian Junior Championships point guard Wallace was a member of the South Queensland Under 18 Girls team that won a bronze medal. At the 2013 Australian School Championships Wallace was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). Wallace captained the Australian Gems at the 2015 Under-19 FIBA World Championships held in Chekhov. The Australian Gems won a bronze medal and Wallace’s teammates included two other players that are members of the Opals 2022 World Cup team – Magbegor and Maley.

From 2014/15 to 2017/18 Wallace played four seasons of college basketball in the United States of America for the Baylor Lady Bears, playing a total of 136 games and averaged 8.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. In Wallace’s final season at Baylor she was selected in the 2017/18 All-Big 12 First team and the All-Defensive team. In Baylor’s final regular season game of 2017/18 on 26 February 2018 Wallace tore the ACL in her right knee, ending her college career. Baylor won the Big 12 regular season championship in all four of Wallace’s seasons. In all three NCAA Women’s tournaments that Wallace competed in from 2015 to 2017 Baylor were defeated in the elite eight. With Wallace sidelined due to her right knee injury in 2018 Baylor were defeated in the sweet sixteen.

Wallace had a right knee reconstruction which ruled her out for the 2018 WNBA season. Despite this Atlanta Dream selected Wallace with pick 16 at the 2018 WNBA Draft which highlights how impressive Wallace’s performances at junior level for Australia and at college with Baylor had been.

Wallace made her WNBL debut with the University of Canberra Capitals in 2018/19 but in her second game injured her ACL again. Wallace missed the rest of the season for the Capitals who went on to win the 2018/19 WNBL Championship.

After going through another knee reconstruction and lengthy rehabilitation process Wallace made her basketball return on 16 May 2021 with the Melbourne Tigers in NBL1 South, averaging 14.2 points and shooting the ball at 53.5% from the field in five games.

Despite playing very little basketball in the previous three years due to her knee injuries Wallace made her Australian Opals debut at the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, playing six games off the bench for the bronze medal winning Opals team. Wallace also represented Australia at the 2022 World Cup Qualifying Tournament and was one of nine Opals from the WCQT selected in the team for the 2022 World Cup in Sydney. 

Kristy Wallace playing for the Jayco Southside Flyers against the Perth Lynx at Dandenong Stadium on 27 January 2022

In her first full WNBL season with the Southside Flyers Wallace predominantly played off the bench. As a starter for the Flyers against Perth Lynx at Dandenong Stadium on 27 January Wallace scored 14 points at 67% from the field and had four assists with Opals coach Sandy Brondello in attendance. Wallace scored at least 10 points in a game five times in 2021/22 and won the WNBL’s Sixth Woman of the Year Award  

During her debut WNBA season with the Atlanta Dream in 2022 Wallace played 29 games including 18 starts, averaging 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. In the first month of the WNBA season Wallace scored at least 17 points in back-to-back home games. Wallace scored 17 points against Phoenix on May 29 and then followed up on June 1 against Minnesota by making six of nine field goals including five of six three-pointers to score a season-high 18 points.

Below is a link to an article published on Milestones and Misses on 16 May 2022 comprehensive covering Wallace’s career to that point.

https://milestonesandmisses.com/2022/015/16/after-overcoming-two-knee-reconstructions-kristy-wallace-is-achieving-her-dreams/

At the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup held in Sydney Wallace made her major championship debut for the Australian Opals as a back-up point guard and joined fellow Melbourne Boomers Madgen and George on the team. In Australia’s fifth and final group game against Japan Wallace scored six points, took eight rebounds – ranked second for the game behind George with nine. made two assists and two steals in the Opals 71-54 victory.   The Opals had a convincing, 95-65 victory against Canada in the bronze medal game. Wallace played all eight games for the bronze medal winning Opals and averaged 3.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 14.1 minutes per game.

Kristy Wallace shooting a jumpshot for the Jayco Southside Flyers against the Melbourne Boomers at Dandenong Stadium on 18 December 2021

After predominantly playing off the bench during the 2021/22 WNBL season for the Southside Flyers Wallace will have more responsibility during the 2022/23 Cygnett WNBL season as the starting point guard for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers.

Kristy Wallace shooting a jump-shot for the Melbourne Boomers in a pre-season game against New Zealand at Casey Stadium on 22 October 2022

WNBL Achievements:          Sixth Woman of the Year Award 2021/22 

Development Players

Paige Burrows

                                                  Position: Guard                  

DOB  9 April 2005                   Height 165cm

Paige Burrows has represented the Knox Raiders at junior level and senior level. Burrows represented Victoria Metro at the 2022 Under 18 Australian Junior Championships held at Selkirk Stadium in Ballarat during April. In a victory against ACT on 14 April 17 year-old Burrows scored 19 points. In the final Victoria Metro defeated Queensland South 69-64 to win the national championship. Burrows scored 16 points and had six assists in the final against Queensland South. Paige played two games for the Knox Raiders at senior level during the 2022 NBL1 South season.

Sophie Burrows

#4                                                    Position: Guard                 

DOB  31 December 2004             Height 184cm

Sophie Burrows commenced her junior basketball career with the Eltham Wildcats. Burrows was a member of the Victorina Metro team that won a silver medal at the 2021 Under-18s Women’s Australian Junior Championships. At 16 years of age Burrows made an impact playing 12 games at senior level for the Diamond Valley Eagles during the 2021 NBL1 season, averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Burrows was a development player for the Melbourne Boomers during the 2021/22 WNBL season and played one game.

Playing for the Diamond Valley Eagles during the 2022 NBL1 South season Burrows scored more than 19 points in a game six times. On 30 July against Eltham in a home game at Diamond Valley Sports & Fitness Centre Burrows scored a game-high 33 points, made five of eight three-pointers at an accuracy of 62.5% and took five rebounds in the 98-62 victory. During the 2022 NBL1 South season Burrows played 18 games for the Diamond Valley Eagles and averaged 15.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. At 17 years of age Burrows led Diamond Valley in scoring and ranked second in rebounding.           

Lily Carmody

#1                                               Position: Guard                  

DOB  8 December 2005         

Lily Carmody has represented the Bulleen Boomers at junior level including during the 2022 Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) season. At the 2022 National Junior Classic Carmody was a star for the Bulleen Boomers team that won the under 18 Girls gold medal. Bulleen defeated Knox Raiders 57-37 in the Grand Final with Carmody scoring 14 points to win the Grand Final MVP award.

Playing at senior level for the Melbourne Tigers at 16 years of age during the 2022 NBL1 South season Carmody grew in confidence as the season progressed. Carmody scored at least 10 points in a game in 13 of her 20 games including her last nine games of the season. Against the Nunawading Spectres on 13 August at Nunawading Basketball Centre Carmody registered a double-double comprised of a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. Lily had a field goal accuracy of 55% and four assists. Carmody played 20 games for Melbourne Tigers during the 2022 NBL1 South season and averaged 11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.  

Lauryn Hippolite

#2                                               Position: Guard                  

DOB  5 March 2000                 Height 174cm

Lauryn Hippolite grew up in Nelson, New Zealand. Hippolite represented Canterbury in New Zealand’s NBL.

At the 2021 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup held in Jordan in September 2021 Hippolite made her debut for New Zealand’s senior women’s basketball team the Tall Ferns playing alongside current Boomer Penina Davidson. Guy Molloy was the head coach of both the Melbourne Boomers and New Zealand Tall Ferns. Hippolite played four games at the 2021 Asia Cup and averaged 2.8 assists per game, ranked third for New Zealand.

Being a member of the New Zealand Tall Ferns contributed to Hippolite getting an opportunity to join the Deakin Melbourne Boomers as a development player late in the 2021/22 season. Hippolite played one WNBL game for the Boomers in 2021/22.

In an NBL1 South game for the Dandenong Rangers against Frankston Blues on 22 April 2022 Hippolite scored 12 rebounds, took five rebounds and made two assists. Hippolite played seven games for the Rangers, all as a starter and averaged 7.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. 

Hippolite returned to New Zealand to represent Mainland Pouakai in the inaugural Tauihi Basketball Aootearo season which commenced in late June 2022. Hippolite led Mainland Pouakai for total assists.

During the 2022/23 WNBL season Hippolite is again a development player for the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. In October 2022 Hippolite played for the New Zealand Tall Ferns with Molloy as Head Coach in games against the three Victorian WNBL teams including a game against the Boomers at Casey Stadium on 22 October.

Lauryn Hippolite playing for New Zealand against Melbourne Boomers in a pre-season game at Casey Stadium on 22 October 2022

Head Coach: Chris Lucas

After the Deakin Melbourne Boomers appointed Chris Lucas as the club’s head coach for the 2022/23 WNBL season Boomers Board Chair Tony Hallam told WNBL Media “Chris is undeniably one of the best coaches in Australian women’s basketball. We are thrilled to have someone with his experience to lead our WNBL program. It was important that our new coach had the track record of success and is someone that understands and respects player relationships. Chris is that head coach and is a perfect fit to build on Guy’s legacy as we look to take our program to the next level of performance.”7  

Chris Lucas has extensive experience as a Head Coach and Assistant Coach. Lucas has been a Head Coach in the WNBL for 15 seasons comprised of nine seasons as Head Coach of Adelaide Lightning across two stints and five seasons as the Townsville Fire Head Coach. Lucas has also been a WNBL Assistant coach with Adelaide Lightning and the Canberra Capitals and has also had two stints as an Australian Opals Assistant Coach.

At Adelaide Lightning Lucas was an Assistant Coach under Head Coach Jan Sterling who was also the Head Coach of the Australian Opals. Lucas had his first stint as an Opals Assistant Coach with Sterling as the Head Coach, including at the 2004 Athens Olympics where the Australian Opals won the silver medal.

In three seasons with Lucas as the Head Coach from 2004/05 to 2006/07 Adelaide made the semi-finals in 2004/05 and the preliminary final in 2005/06 and 2006/07. Lucas was sacked as Adelaide’s Head Coach early in the 2007/08 season.

Lucas joined the Canberra Capitals as an Assistant Coach under Carrie Graf for three seasons from 2008/09 to 2009/11. The Capitals won back-to-back WNBL championships in 2008/09 and 2009/10.

In three seasons as an Assistant Coach at the Canberra Capitals under Carrie Graf the Capitals won back-to-back WNBL championships in 2008/09 and 2009/10.

During a five-season stint as Townsville Fire Head Coach the club made the finals in all five seasons from 2011/12 to 2015/16. Current Boomers player Mia Murray played for Townsville for all five seasons and current Boomers captain Cayla George joined Townsville for the 2014/15 season. Townsville were defeated on the road in a 2011/12 semi final by Dandenong Rangers.

In 2012/13 and 2013/14 Townsville won road preliminary finals against Dandenong Rangers to progress to the Grand Final. In both seasons Bendigo defeated Townsville in the Grand Final by more than 10 points.

Townsville had the most dominant front-court duo in the league in 2014/15 with George and Suzy Batkovic both ranking in the league’s top four in scoring and top three in rebounding. Townsville had 17 wins and five losses during the 2014/15 regular season to win the minor premiership. Townsville defeated Bendigo 75-65 in the 2014/15 Grand Final with Mia Murray scoring 23 points and taking seven rebounds to win the Rachel Sporn medal as Grand Final MVP. Townsville finished on top of the ladder in 2015/16 with 17 wins and seven losses with Batkovic and George leading the league in scoring and rebounding respectively. In the first ever best of three WNBL Grand Final series Townsville Fire defeated Perth Lynx two games to nil, winning each game by at least 10 points.  Lucas resigned as Townsville’s Head Coach in April 2016 to return to Adelaide with his family.

In June 2016 Lucas was appointed Adelaide Lightning’s Head Coach for three seasons. Adelaide were in rebuild mode and had three wins and 18 losses in 2016/17.

At the 2017 World University Games held in Taipei in August Lucas coached the Emerging Opals who defeated Japan 85-78 in the final to win the gold medal.

Lucas was diagnosed with kidney cancer in early September 2017. Lucas had surgery to remove a 2.5 kilogram tumour and after missing the first three games of the 2017/18 regular season made his return as Adelaide’s head coach.

Adelaide had 11 wins and 10 losses during 2017/18 and continued on an upward trajectory to make the playoffs in 2018/19 for the first time since 2012/13. With Lucas as their Head Coach Adelaide made the 2018/19 Grand Final and lost in three games to the University of Canberra Capitals one game to two. In 2018/19 Lucas won the WNBL’s Coach of the Year award for the first time in his career.

Chris Lucas coaching Adelaide Lightning against Dandenong Rangers at the State Basketball Centre on 25 November 2017

In both 2019/20 and 2021/22 Adelaide made the playoffs and were defeated in a semi final. Adelaide missed the finals in the 2020 hub season.

Lucas was appointed as an Australian Opals Assistant Coach in 2018 and was a member of the coaching staff at the 2018 World Cup held in Tenerife, Spain. The Opals had their best major Championship result in a decade to win the silver medal. 

During Lucas’s 14 season career as a WNBL Head Coach, teams he has coached have made the finals 11 times, made five Grand Final appearances and won two WNBL Championships. Current Melbourne Boomers players George and Murray were members of Townsville Fire’s back to back WNBL Championships in 2014/15 and 2015/16 with Lucas as Head Coach. Lucas also coached Boomers forward Davidson at Adelaide Lightning in 2018/19.

On the appointment of Chris Lucas as the Melbourne Boomers Head Coach, Boomers captain Cayla George told wnbl.basketball We are excited to have Chris on board as he has great experience in leading teams to finals. Personally, I’ve been fortunate to win back-to-back championships with him at Townsville and he knows what it takes to be successful!”8

After Chris Lucas was appointed by the Boomers to be their head coach Lucas told WNBL Media I feel rejuvenated and privileged to have been selected to lead the Deakin Melbourne Boomers. Over the last few years, the Boomers program has grown and developed immensely and are now WNBL champions. Being on top is when it gets really tough and this brings another set of unique challenges.9

WNBL Achievements:             WNBL Championship 2014/15, 2015/16, (with Townsville Fire)

                                          WNBL Coach of the Year 2018/19 (with Adelaide Lightning)

Article and photographs by Dean Andrews

Twitter – @DeanAndrews7777

References

1 https://utahstateaggies.com/sports/womens-basketball/roster/rachel-brewster/1298

2 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/brewster-back-wnbl21-22/

3 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-09-22/cayla-george-baby-girl-fiba-womens-basketball-world-cup/101454144

4 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/tess-madgen-undergoes-surgery/

5 https://gamecocksonline.com/sports/womens-basketball/roster/tiffany-mitchell/3282

6 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/lindsay-allen-back-for-boomers/

7 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/strong-steady-hand-to-lead-wnbl-champions/

8 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/strong-steady-hand-to-lead-wnbl-champions/

9 https://wnbl.basketball/melbourne/news/strong-steady-hand-to-lead-wnbl-champions/

Milestones and Misses

Milestones and Misses publishes articles to celebrate the achievements of sportspeople, mainly in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) and Australian Rules Football (AFL and AFLW). In sport as with life in general it is common that milestones are only achieved after overcoming adversity, so whilst the articles on the Milestones and Misses website celebrate sportspeople achieving milestones they also cover the misses along the journey such as a player having minimal game-time or spending a prolonged period on the sidelines due to injury. The aim of the articles is to enable readers to gain a greater appreciation of the journey sportspeople have had during their career.

A link to Milestones and Misses homepage and WNBL category is below:

https://milestonesandmisses.com/

https://milestonesandmisses.com/category/wnbl/

The Milestones and Misses website was set up in December 2015. From 2020 onwards articles have been published on the following sportspeople:

WNBL

Penny Taylor

Rachel Jarry

Steph Reid

Kristy Wallace

Anneli Maley

Lindsay Allen

Jade Melbourne

Maddison Rocci

Cayla George

Kelly Wilson

Steph Talbot

Bec Cole

Aimie Rocci

Abby Bishop

Tessa Lavey

Ezi Magbegor

Zitina Aokuso

Leilani Mitchell

Maddie Garrick

Sara Blicavs

NBL

Nathan Sobey

AFLW

Ashleigh Riddell

Hayley Miller

Darcy Vescio

Tessa Lavey

Georgia Patrikios

Alyce Parker

Tyla Hanks

Tyanna Smith

Tarni White

Caitlin Greiser

AFL

Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin

Nicky Winmar

Sam Walsh

Jack Steele

Luke Jackson

Harry McKay

Seb Ross

Jayden Short

Clayton Oliver

Lenny Hayes

Tim Membrey

Rowan Marshall

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