Steph Cumming of the Dandenong Rangers has been named the Wattle Valley WNBL Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year for 2015/16, as voted by coaches and captains from all nine clubs.
Cumming accumulated 25 votes from a possible 48, beating second-placed Louella Tomlinson of the Perth Lynx and Bendigo Spirit’s Kelsey Griffin who finished third.
“It was very unexpected, I was quite surprised,” said Cumming.
In her 10th WNBL season, the guard returned to Dandenong after two seasons and a Championship with the Townsville Fire.
She played her junior basketball with the Rangers and had also previously represented them in the WNBL in 2006/07 and from 2009-13.
The guard finished third for the club in steals and helped Dandenong to have the best three-point defence in the league, holding oppositions to 31% shooting.
“I try to take pride in every aspect of my game but as part of [coach] Larissa Anderson’s game-plan she was really focused on defence and I guess that came through,” said Cumming.
She admits there are at least three or four flat-out scorers in each team in the league so it was difficult to pinpoint specific tough assignments but together with Anderson, they would work out a defensive plan before each game.
“Larissa would go through match-ups with us and most weeks we would have a chat about it and who I would prefer to play on and then she would chip in with who she thought would be best.
“We’ve got a wealth of experience in our coaching staff and everyone looks at things a little differently and having their different views helped me the most.”
Cumming’s performance at the offensive end makes her one of the most competent two-way players in the league as she averages 15.8 points (eighth in the WNBL) and 2.6 assists (15th). However, she is happy to be known as a shutdown player.
“I never really thought of myself as a defensive player but I always take pride in it and not wanting to be beaten.”