25th May 2011, by Tanya Tran
What is the reason for the Adelaide Thunderbirds form slump in this year's ANZ Championship? I take a look at the key differences between the 2010 and 2011 Thunderbirds side to determine the reasons why the 2010 premiers finished in only 6th place.
There are a number of important facts that come to light when comparing the 2010 and 2011 Adelaide Thunderbirds team statistics:
1. Rebounds. From a highly-ranking 3rd place to 9th, the Thunderbirds have failed to collect the rebounds. Carla Borrego and Geva Mentor were both featured in 2010's top ten rebounders, however, no Thunderbirds player made the top ten list this year.
2. Deflections. The Thunderbirds placed a dismal 9th this year for deflections, showing that a stronger defensive impact is a must for a premiership side.
3. Penalties. With an average of 72.8 penalties per game in 2011, the highest for any team in this year's ANZ Championship, the Thunderbirds must learn to play by the whistle in order to stay in the game.
|Average per game
|Rebounds||9.4 (3rd)||6.2 (9th)||-3.2 (↓6)|
|Intercepts||6.9 (5th)||6.1 (7th)||-0.8 (↓2)|
|Deflections||19.0 (1st)||13.6 (9th)||-5.4 (↓8)|
|Penalties||51.8 (3rd)||72.8 (10th)||+21.0 (↓7)|
|Turnovers||23.8 (5th)||17.5 (6th)||-6.3 (↓1 )|
|GS||Carla Borrego||Carla Borrego|
|GA||Erin Bell||Erin Bell|
|WA||Emily Beaton||Emily Beaton|
|C||Natalie von Bertouch||Natalie von Bertouch|
|WD||Sharni Layton||Joanne Sutton|
|GD||Mo'onia Gerrard||Sharni Layton|
|GK||Geva Mentor||Kate Shimmin|
Taking a quick look at the starting 7 between 2010 and 2011, the attack end is much the same with major differences in the defensive line-up. Mo'onia Gerrard opted to return to her home side, the NSW Swifts, in 2011 leaving a large hole not only in the defensive end, but in her leadership role as co-captain.
The introduction of the new import rule in 2011 left the Thunderbirds flat-footed as Jamaican import Carla Borrego had already signed with the Thunderbirds, unfortunately leaving no room for Geva Mentor to return to the side.
The defensive duo were a major loss for the Thunderbirds, with Mentor being named MVP of the 2010 ANZ Championship Grand Final. The Thunderbirds have not been able to fill this void, leaving Sharni Layton, age 23, as the senior player in the defensive end. "Obviously we need to step up our defensive impact as a team," Thunderbirds coach Jane-Woodlands-Thompson said. "Our numbers were too low in gains and goal restriction so be looking for some experience to galvanise what we have been able to put in place this year."
All is not looking down for the Thunderbirds though, with this year's introduction of new, bright pink branding that has garnered much excitement for the team. Fans, especially young girls have been ecstatic with the fresh logo and colours. It would be confusing to see why the team would want to rebrand after such a successful season, however it was the right time for the Thunderbirds to build their own identity as a professional sports team, helped by the fact that the Port Adelaide Football Club was no longer a sponsor of the team.
This is a time of rebuilding for the Adelaide Thunderbirds and with player reviews completed and recruitment currently underway, the Thunderbirds will be looking to a more successful 2012.