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Opinion

The roster review series: Canberra Capitals

(L-R) Maddison Rocci #9, Olivia Epoupa #0 and Kia Nurse #11 of the Capitals celebrate winning game two of the WNBL Grand Final series between the University of Canberra Capitals and Southside Flyers at AIS Arena on March 04, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Roar Rookie
12th November, 2020
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Maybe the happiest review, the Champions. It rolls off the tongue now, Canberra Capitals are once again Champions, the Triple C. Canberra Finished the regular season at 15–6, good for third place.

2019-20 season in review
The mighty AIS Arena once again proved near impenetrable as the Capitals went 11–1 at home, a league best. Their downfall was the 5–6 road record, which almost cost them second place if not for a tiebreaker, this is definitely where the Capitals will look to improve in the new season.

In the semi-finals, Canberra’s home dominance continued. They won the opener, lost at Melbourne and then finished the three game series up at home in the AIS Arena. As they advanced to the finals to take on the number one seed Southside, they won two extremely close games to capture the title at home.

As befitting the champions, the awards flooded in. Kia Nurse won the WNBL Top Shooter Award for averaging a league high 21.3PPG in the regular season, she also was named the League’s Most Valuable Player and onto the All-WNBL First Team. Coach Paul Goriss was named Coach of the Year and Olivia Époupa was named grand final MVP for her amazing finals performances.

An interesting note, Canberra is one of only two teams last year to not use an import slot on an American. As in most sports, imports tend to be American and they tend to be taller and more athletic than local players. This proved to be a wise move with both Nurse (Canadian) and Époupa (French) being among the elite players in the league.

(L-R) Maddison Rocci #9, Olivia Epoupa #0 and Kia Nurse #11 of the Capitals

(L-R) Maddison Rocci #9, Olivia Epoupa #0 and Kia Nurse #11 of the Capitals celebrate winning game two of the WNBL Grand Final series between the University of Canberra Capitals and Southside Flyers at AIS Arena on March 04, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Major additions and subtractions
Additions
Mikaela Ruef- After one season in France, Ruef is back in the WNBL. The 6 foot 3 Ruef will give the Capitals another inside presence to lean on if the team needs an easy bucket. Ruef will play both front line positions and add great depth as needed in either spot.

Brittany Smart- Smart is a strong competitor that Sydney will miss in their locker room. Her veteran presence and command of the ball was a great pick up for Canberra to help mitigate the loss of Olivia. Across her storied career she has positively impacted each place she has played; Canberra will be banking that trend does not stop.

Subtractions
Imports- Kia Nurse is the reigning League MVP and Top Scorer. Just in those two terms alone that is a massive hole to fill. Olivia Époupa was the do it all Point Guard for the Capitals and when finals came around was their best player. This garnered her Finals MVP, once again she will be greatly missed.

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Gemma Potter- Potter signed to play with UCLA and could not get the exemption to also play WNBL. Her all-around game will be missed. Hopefully once graduated, she can return to the WNBL.

Summary
The Canberra Capitals lost a lot with the No-Import Rule for 2020. However, the team did not lose many other players so the chemistry should be one of the best in the league. This combined with some astute pickups will lead the team back to the finals.

Prediction
The loss of both imports is especially hard on the Capitals. Losing last year’s league MVP and final’s MVP is a huge loss. They however did a good job on replacing them by committee and will still stay in finals contention.
third place (9–5)