Melbourne Men Crowned University Basketball League Champions

1 December 2023; Matt Roseby

In the fourth season of the University Basketball League, the Melbourne men took out top honours for the first time while the women’s team had their best ever finish, making it to the semi-finals.

Refreshed rosters helped propel the Melbourne teams to new heights, solidifying the University as one of the league's strongest forces in the competition. Home-game partnerships with Red Bull and league-leading spectatorship transformed the Nona Lee Centre into a raging sea of blue for each home game, flooding the court with fever-pitch enthusiasm that pushed both teams to their best home records since the League’s inception.

The women’s team had five first-year players, including WNBL talent Lana Hollingsworth and standout defensive force Meera Coburn. Hollingsworth proved herself as a dominant scorer, averaging 19.4PPG, while Coburn led the league in blocks and finished second in total rebounds.

Despite an early loss to Curtin University in Round 3, the women rebounded, going on to secure a playoff spot and the 6th seed, boasting a 6-3 record. Facing off against the University of Technology Sydney in the quarterfinals, double-digit scoring performances from Eloise Leonard, Laura Hamilton, and Hollingsworth would carry Melbourne to a convincing 82-60 win and a spot in the semi-final. Facing off against 2022 Champions La Trobe University, the women faced their toughest competition of the season, eventually falling to the eventual champions 52-74.

The men entered the season with a largely unchanged squad, adding Dihan Wiggett and Kai Garnaut in their pursuit of a maiden playoff berth. The season commenced with a resounding 48-point victory over the University of Adelaide, setting the tone for the rest of the season. Facing RMIT in the home opener, the men avenged their 2022 loss with a 15-point victory, led by team captain and 2021 League MVP Joel Rimes with 21 points, and third-year player Matt Roseby with 22 points.

The men's roster depth and broad offensive options were showcased in the following rounds, with impressive performances from Garnaut and Josh McNally in back-to-back matches on the Perth road trip. The men escaped with a close win over the previously undefeated Sunshine Coast but would take their only loss of the season in Round 7 against first-year opponents the University of Tasmania.

Finishing the regular season in second place, the men entered their first playoffs with the dynamic trio of Rimes, Wiggett, and Garnaut silencing RMIT in the quarter-finals, leading to a semi-final showdown against long-standing intervarsity rivals, the University of Sydney.

A packed Nona Lee Sports Centre witnessed a spectacular display of basketball, with Melbourne scoring an electric 104 points to secure a 17-point victory against their Sydney rivals.

A trip to Sydney followed for the Grand Final against the undefeated University of Technology Sydney, an extremely tough opponent and an even rowdier home crowd. An explosive first quarter from Roseby was the catalyst for an unanswered 17-point run, establishing a lead that they would hold throughout the game. Rimes and Roseby combined for 41 points, leading to a historic 77-67 victory and the University’s inaugural UBL Championship.

The men's team were crowned Intervarsity Sport Team of the Year at the 2023 Blues and Sport Awards in November in recognition of their outstanding season.