ANYTHING but content with appearing in four successive Men’s SBL Grand Finals, the Joondalup Wolves continue to make waves heading towards the 2019 season with the announcement of the return of championship winning centre Kevin Davis.
It is difficult not to admire the run of sustained success the Wolfpack Men have experienced under coach Ben Ettridge over the past decade despite the pain that comes with losing three successive SBL Grand Finals.
That pain will continue to burn everyone at the Wolves following the 2018 loss to the Perry Lakes Hawks until they get the chance to try to make amends at the business end of the 2019 season, but what can’t be ignored is how consistently successful they have been.
The Wolves Men broke through for a first championship in 18 years in 2011 and also were triumphant in 2015 having also reached Grand Finals in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
So six Grand Final appearances in eight years highlights what a force the Wolfpack continue to be in the Men’s SBL but there’s anything but complacency at HBF Arena as Joondalup puts together its squad for the 2019 season.
Already having announced the signing of Guam international and former Perth Wildcats NBL player Earnest Ross fresh off a standout campaign with the Geraldton Buccaneers, the Wolves have announced they will be welcoming back Kevin Davis in 2019.
Davis was instrumental in the Wolves’ championship triumph of 2015 as a dominant presence inside where he could score when needed, but his rebounding prowess, shot-blocking ability and overall outstanding defence was instrumental in the team’s success.
He was outstanding in that championship season averaging 18.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.8 blocks a game before returning to the Wolves a year later in a team that reached the Grand Final where his numbers rose to 21.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks.
While Davis hasn’t played with the Wolves the past two seasons, he has remained in the SBL playing strongly still firstly at the East Perth Eagles in 2017 and then the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in 2018.
So remaining in Western Australia was always a priority for Davis and now he will return in 2019 where he achieved his greatest team success in the SBL hoping to be that difference-maker again as the Wolves attempt to rise from Grand Finalists to championship-winners.
Davis is the first import signing for the Wolves ahead of the 2019 season and the club intends to add the signing of a second restricted player.
Reigning league MVP Jalen Billups remains a chance to return but the Wolves will leave no stone unturned in ensuring whoever they end up signing will be the right fit to play alongside Davis, Ross and company, and give them the best chance of that ultimate success.
As for Ross, he is just as significant a signing for the Wolves ahead of the 2019 season and is fresh off a starring performance for Guam where he has helped them advance to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
Ross, alongside New Zealand Breakers NBL star Tai Wesley and 2018 Rockingham Flames big man Curtis Washington, helped Guam go through undefeated at the FIBA Asia Cup Pre-Qualifiers to advance to the qualifying round for the 2021 tournament.
That included Ross putting up 33 points, four rebounds and three assists on 6/12 shooting from downtown in Saturday’s 101-78 win over Malaysia.
The 27-year-old swingman went on to average 22.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.7 assists throughout the Pre-Qualifying tournament for Guam on top of shooting an impressive 46.7 per cent from the field and 46.6 per cent from three-point territory.
Since spending the 2014/15 NBL season with the Perth Wildcats, Ross has spent time playing in the SEABL for the Ballarat Miners, New Zealand for the Super City Rangers and then last season in the SBL with the Geraldton Buccaneers.
He’s also spent time further abroad playing in Denmark and Qatar but it’s playing in Australia that he’s always enjoyed where he qualifies to play as an unrestricted player due to Guam’s Oceania connection.
Coming off his strong showing in the SBL with the Buccs last season and now more recently on the international stage with Guam, Ross is an exciting signing for the Wolves and is happy to be back in Australia as noted when he was with Geraldton in 2018.
“I really didn’t think I’d be back here to be honest. At the time when that happened with the Wildcats, a lot of stuff goes through your mind so for that to occur and for me to actually be back in the same state in Australia, I’m just happy with how it worked out,” Ross said.
“I’ve got daughter from Australia and my wife is from Australia so I knew I would be back in Australia, but playing here is a whole different path. I’m just happy to be back here, especially in the Western Australia area, and it feels good. It definitely feels great to be back out here and enjoy this weather.”
The Wolfpack Women have also undergone great change in the off-season heading towards a new era in 2019.
Fresh off stints coaching the Perry Lakes Hawks and South West Slammers Men, and Perth Redbacks Women to regular playoff appearances, Charles Nix has taken over as coach and there have been some impressive player signings coming with him.
The Lady Wolfpack will have the services of Stirling Senators stalwart and workhorse Amber Land in 2019 on top of WNBL guard Mikayla Pirini and rising youngsters Georgia Denehey and Isabelle Miotti.