Levy, Coleman conclude pro seasons

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Last weekend, two Cleveland State alumnae finished their rookie seasons in the NBL1 – the second tier of senior basketball in Australia – and though their team results that were disappointing on the whole, the campaign still offered moments of collective and individual brilliance.

Taylah Levy

All in all, the 2023 season was a bit of a struggle for Levy’s Eastern Mavericks, which play in the NBL1 Central (one of five regional NBL1 conferences that are essentially separate leagues until their champions meet in the national finals) though the young club gelled as things progressed and played its best basketball during the schedule’s closing stretch. The 2022 CSU graduate, who was held off the court during her final year as a Viking thanks to a knee injury, was part of what was essentially a big three for the Mavs. That group of team frontliners also included Jannon Otto, a big scoring wing originally from California who played at New Mexico and UC Riverside (though she’s since gained citizenship in Uganda and plays for their national team), and Olivia Bradley, a homegrown player who is set to start at UC Santa Barbara this fall.

Levy took a few weeks to find her footing in her return to organized basketball (her most recent floor time with the Vikings was the 2021 WBI championship game, almost exactly two years prior to the Mavs’ opener), but eventually came on in full force as an athletic, playmaking point guard to average 18.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.9 steals in each of her 15 games.

Her trajectory mirrored that of the squad, as the Mavs began 0-8 before finally taking down the Central District Lions on May 13th. Another four defeats followed that breakthrough, but Eastern then put together a surprising three-game winning streak spanning June and July, including 100-57 and 111-66 hammerings of Central District and Woodville. In the season finale, the Mavericks gave the undefeated NBL1 Central regular season champion Sturt Sabres all they could handle in a two-point defeat to finish 4-14, good for 8th among the conference’s ten teams.

Unsurprisingly, most of Levy’s individual highlights came during the Mavs’ best team results. She had 23 points, ten rebounds and seven assists in that first win against Central Districts for what was, at the time, her season-high scoring total and only double-double. However, she obliterated both marks during the subsequent winning streak, including 35 points, ten assists and six rebounds against Woodville on June 24th, an outing that pulled in NBL1 Central Player of the Week honors. She essentially matched that effort a week later in the rematch with the Lions, with 36 points, ten assists and five steals, then scored 18 first-quarter points on the way to a game-high 33 in the near-upset of Sturt.

Levy’s attention will now turn to an entirely different sport, Australian rules football, as preparations are already underway for her 2023 AFLW season with the Adelaide Crows. The Crows’ ten-match regular season starts on September 2nd against archrival Port Adelaide, and the AFLW Grand Final is set for December 3rd.

Cori Coleman

Coleman is a well-traveled professional of eight years at this point, thanks to stops in Finland, Germany, Luxembourg and Morocco, as well as a stint with the GWBA’s Wisconsin Glo last summer that reunited her with her college coach, Kate Peterson Abiad. She joined the NBL1 South’s Hobart Chargers midway through the 2023 season, after the close of a successful effort in Switzerland that saw her BC Winterthur club take third place in the second-tier NLBW.

At the time of Coleman’s signing, the Chargers were 5-7 and hoped that another star player would be enough to push them into the conference’s top eight and a playoff position. Instead, the side from Tasmania’s largest city went 3-7 the rest of the way to finish 8-14 and well out of the running in 15th place.

Coleman probably shouldn’t carry a ton of the blame for that regression, however. She scored 24 points or better in half of her outings and finished with a per-game average of 19.3, good for third on the team behind 2016 Denver graduate Paige Bradley and Kayla Stendl, a former WNBA draft pick who matriculated from Gonzaga in 2012.

As anyone familiar with the 2011-15 Vikings great might expect, more than half of her points originated behind the three-point line, where she rode a fearless streak and heartbeat-fast release to a 33-for-81 (40.7 percent) line from deep. Arguably, Coleman’s best game of her ten came on June 17th, when she poured in six threes in seven attempts on the way to a game-high 26 points – along with eight rebounds – as Hobart defeated Diamond Valley 89-67. In the season finale, she offered 25 points and six assists to an 83-69 victory over rival Launceton.

While Levy navigates footy season and Coleman undoubtedly turns up somewhere new this fall for the Northern Hemisphere basketball season, they’ll soon be joined in the professional ranks by 2023 Vikings graduate Barbara Zieniewska, who signed to play in Iceland last month.

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