The Giants finished the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball season as the minor premiers, on top of the ladder. They finished with nine wins, and the equal third-highest goals scored at the end of the home and away season.
With 853 goals, the Giants attack was prolific, and a big part of that was the shooting of Jo Harten and Sophie Dwyer. Dwyer, who stepped in for the injured Kiera Austin, in particular, has been valuable in the circle.
Under coach Julie Fitzgerald, the Giants this season have become the best long-range shooting team, taking advantage of the two-point goal, the Super Shot. In the last five minutes of each quarter, players who score goal attempts from within the back 1.9m of the goal circle will earn two goals instead of one.
The rule has been controversial, as it has not been implemented in international netball, but it has been hoped that the shot would add a layer of excitement to the game as teams can chase down big deficits, or rack up a lead quickly.
Harten has unleashed the most attempts, with 103 over the regular season, and has the most makes, 50, giving her an accuracy of 49 per cent, and a true shooting value from that range of 0.98 points per shot.
That return would be the best in the league for a return on shooting, if not for her teammate. Dwyer has the second most attempts and makes from that distance, with 47 goals from 83 attempts, giving her a true shooting value of 1.14 points, as she shoots 57 per cent from that range.
Dwyer’s return means that for her, and for the Giants, the team is better off her taking Super Shots than regular goals when available. Her average trip into the goal circle yields more points when she lines up from the Super Shot range during that period, than her regular feed into the goal circle.
But as much as has been made of the Giants shooting from distance, it has only affected the outcome of one match they played this season. Four times, the Giants have been worse from the Super Shot range, and so much so, that it cost the team scores.
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In Round 3 (against the Firebirds), the Giants shot 89 per cent on regular goal attempts, and 33 per cent on Super Shot goal attempts. Due to the volume of shots, they would have been three goals better off if they had shot from regular range, as it would have yielded 11 goals, rather than the four Super Shots adding eight to the score.
In Round 6 (against the Swifts), the Giants shot 92 per cent on regular goal attempts, and 42 per cent on Super Shots, giving them a true shooting value of 0.85 from the extra value shot. If they had taken their shots regularly, it would have given them 13 goals, instead of six Super Shots, and would have left them one goal better off.
In Round 8 (against the Thunderbirds), the Giants scored at 83 per cent from regular range, and had a true shooting value of 0.75 per Super Shot. Had they played without the Super Shot, they would have had one extra goal, scoring seven goals on those entries instead of the three Super Shots they came away with.
In Round 12 (against the Vixens), the Giants shot at 76 per cent on regular goals, and just 20 per cent on their Super Shots. Had they taken those attempts from regular range, they would have come away with four goals, instead of the single Super Shot they made, adding two to their score for the day.
The thing about all those games, is that in all cases, the difference added to the score if not for the Super Shot, was less than the margin. The only game of those four that they lost was to the Swifts, where they lost by 12 goals anyway, so adding one to the total probably wouldn’t have made a difference.
But on one occasion this season, the Giants’ ability from range did make the difference. In particular, against the Fever in Round 14, to seal the minor premiership.
That day, the Giants shot at 93 per cent on their regular shots, and shot at 61 per cent from the Super Shot range, giving them a true shooting value of 1.22 goals per Super Shot.
That accuracy added five goals more to the Giants total than if they had played without the Super Shot. And in a 75-73 win, that was all the difference. The win locked up the minor premiership and set the stage for today’s preliminary final.
And so, when the Giants start to hoist the Super Shots today to keep up with the Fever, watch carefully for that accuracy, as it will be telling. For as much as the Super Shot might be negatively talked about, it would take a special day for it to make the difference, as it did in Round 14.
The Giants play the West Coast Fever in the Suncorp Super Netball Preliminary Final at 3:00pm AEST today, for a place in next weekend’s Grand Final.
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