Tauihi Preview – Round 5

Photo credit: Masanori Udagawa

The Recruitment Network Mainland Pouākai vs. Southern Hoiho - Wednesday, 7:30 pm 

Key Stats



34.8 rebounds per game (last in league) 

42 rebounds per game (1st in league) 

32.2% three point percentage (1st)  

25% three point percentage (last) 

13.8 free throw attempts per game (4th) 

19.2 free throw attempts per game (3rd) 

The Hoiho have been able to find a way to win close games with consistency, largely behind the interior play of Zoe Richards and Ashten Prechtel, but with both players out with injury they will be severely tested to keep that form going. Any team that loses the majority of it’s starting frontcourt would be in a bit of a hole, even more so for the Hoiho when losing Prechtel, who is currently Top-5 in the league in scoring, rebounding, blocks and assists. The big key for the offence will be how to create second chance opportunities, key for a team that is tops in offensive boards. With their top two interior players out they will look to quicken the pace led by Paige Bradley and Ahlise Hurst, but will there be any room for the perimeter skill to find space without the top scoring and rebounding threats available?  

The Pouākai come into the game still searching for an elusive first win despite recent form that has brought them closer to the winners circle. Jasmine Dickey has been a powerful finisher in half court and transition creating opportunities for herself and teammates. The team's strength from the perimeter has the chance to shoot them into games, but a lack of rim attacking options has made scoring tough when the jumper dries up. Esra McGoldrick’s return will bolster the interior defence and rebounding attack, especially against a weakened front line. Execution down the stretch will be key for a team that needs to find the winning circle asap to keep pace with the rest of the league.  

Matchup to Watch: Kendell Heremaia vs. Paige Bradley 

Whai vs. The Recruitment Network Mainland Pouākai - Friday, 7:30pm 

Key Stats



12.2 fouls drawn per game (Last) 

14 fouls drawn per game (4th) 

8.6 free throws made per game (last) 

10 free throws made per game (4th) 

10 made threes per game (1st)  

7.8 made threes per game (2nd) 

 The Whai are coming off their best performance of the season, where for three quarters they were dominant defensively shutting down passing lanes and terrorizing ball handlers as they built a 21-point third quarter lead that looked insurmountable against the Queens. But the fourth quarter highlighted the difficulty to score in the half court when the shots stopped falling along with an inability to create opportunities at the free throw line when other options become more difficult to execute. Mikalya Cowling is growing more comfortable and her ability to score on the drive and from behind the arc gives the offence options when all else is slowing. Aaliyah Wilson looks to be finding her comfort zone and Sarah Sagerer has continued to pressure defences with her quick release from deep and mid range. If they can continue the defensive effort found in Round 4 and combine the strength of the import trio with an improved attack off the bench the Whai will look more like a team destined for the postseason.  

The Pouākai will need to find ways to attack that aggressive defence when they line up for their second game of the round and the strength of their perimeter attack will force the Whai to temper their aggressiveness on the ball or give up open looks to one of the league's top perimeter attacks. Both teams will look for ways to improve their rim attacks and create more free throw attempts but that will be tough for the teams last in drawing fouls and made free throws. Natasha Mack and Sharne Robati should be able to help in that area with their advantage on the interior and consistent touches on the block will force defences to shift their attention from the outside shooting. Kendell Heremaia looked comfortable initiating the offence last round, but the defensive pressure of the Whai will be a test for her ball handling abilities. If the pressure at the initial point of attack can be countered the Pouākai should find freedom in the half court offensively, if not it will be a long night of scrambling back to take away transition opportunities. 

Matchup to Watch: Mikayla Cowling vs. Jasmine Dickey  

ANZCO Tokomanawa Queens vs. BNZ Northern Kāhu - Saturday, 7:30pm 

Key Stats



12.2 assists per game (last) 

18 assists per game (first) 

20.5 free throw attempts per game (2nd) 

26.5 free throw attempts per game (1st) 

5.3 made threes per game (last) 

7 made threes per game (4th) 

At their best the Queens are powered by pace, with Chrislyn Carr and Stephanie Watts able to push transition defences to the limit with rim attacks that put pressure on defences to communicate and scramble until they eventually break. But that high powered offence went conspicuously quiet for stretches in Round 4, including a horror stretch where they gave up 27 unanswered to the Hoiho and a surprising opening quarter against the Whai where they managed just seven points and struggled to match their opponents pace in the half court. The return of Stella Beck was promising and her ability to create for teammates will bolster the playmaking for a team that has had trouble creating advantage with the pass. Maya Dodson’s expected return is key, as her defensive presence will be needed against a Kāhu squad that attacks the interior with more than any other team in the league. 

That Kāhu post attack is driven by II’mar'I Thomas and Penina Davidson who have excelled in their on-court partnership consistently attacking the more favourable matchup between the two. Both have shown great ability with the ball in hand, either scoring from the low block or facilitating from the high post. And when defensive attention turns to the interior more room is found on the perimeter, giving Tera Reed freedom of movement to score and allowing Krystal Leger-Walker the opportunity to facilitate for others. With both teams lacking in their current form from behind the arc defending penetration will be key with the team that finds the upper hand here likely to walk away with a hard fought victory. 

Matchup to Watch: Stephanie Watts vs. Tera Reed 

Southern Hoiho vs. Whai - Sunday, 3pm 

Key Stats



13.2 offensive rebounds per game (1st)  

11.6 offensive rebounds per game (2nd)  

17.7 assist per game (2nd) 

16 assists per game (3rd)  

30 three point attempts per game (2nd) 

35.8 three point attempts per game (1st) 

The Hoiho’s rebounding attack has been key to their form, with the extra possession created on the offensive end keeping the scoreboard ticking along while swallowing up the defensive glass to keep opponents from enjoying similar success, but that changes without Richards and Prechtel crashing the glass to create those opportunities. Hurst and Bradley will be the key cogs on the offensive end but it may come down to who can support off the bench, a difficult task for a squad that managed just five points from the reserves last time out. Bradley’s all around game has been a key cog in an offence that has been built on interior superiority but will need to find an even higher level if the Hoiho remain less than full strength for long. 

If the Whai do come into the match with a personnel advantage they will most likely to one again unleash a defensive tenacity that has been picking up steam as the season goes along with the last two opponents being held under 80 total points. If the defence falters (and the Hoiho are still understrength)  they should find advantage on the glass, where their tenacity has produced the second most offensive rebounds in the league. Natasha Mack will be able to draw attention on the post, pulling defenders away from the 3-point line opening up space for McKenna Dale, Mikayla Cowling and Jade Kirisome to let it fly from deep. But beware a lead, as with the two most prolific deep attacks in the league will make chasing down the opposition from behind an easier task. 

Matchup to Watch: Ahlise Hurst vs. McKenna Dale 


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