11 October, 2016
16 April, 2017
7 Maria Vadeeva (Dynamo Kursk) (photo: Timur Tsnobiladze)
to read

Regular Season Review - Part 1

MUNICH (EuroLeague Women) - We check in with our women's basketball specialist Paul Nilsen to get his assessment of how each club performed against expectation during the EuroLeague Women Regular Season.

Making their return to the competition, it was a smart move by BLMA to ensure that there was plenty of experience on the roster and that has proved important in harvesting a 7-7 record - one which almost saw them established as a top eight club in Europe. But, they just fell short on the head-to-head with Famila Schio. Their main positive has been a strong team ethic and contributions across the roster, especially from the resurgent veteran Geraldine Robert. The other side of this coin is that BLMA have arguably lacked a top drawer difference-maker or X-Factor player to give them that little bit extra. But overall, very solid indeed.

This might seem generous, but I was worried that with lots of roster changes and injuries to the influential captain Johannah Leedham and Diandra Tchatchouang, Tango Bourges Basket might post a losing record.

They didn't post a winning one either as it happened and even if it was on a three-way tie, there is no taking away the achievement of Coach Garnier taking Bourges back to being a top-eight team. They have been up and down, but can take real satisfaction from the progress of Marine Johannes and Alexia Chartereau, who have been so exciting and shown the potential to be future stars.

It was a calamitous campaign. I thought it would be difficult but also believed that CCC Polkowice could be very competitive. However, after three coaches (or was it technically four?) and losing 12 of 14 games with some talented players, this was a season to forget. You felt some steady improvements with Coach Maros Kovacik, but the players did not perform to their potential and the loss of focus in some very winnable games was ridiculous at times. I like and rate many of those players, but I was frustrated just watching. It was tough on rising star rookie Raisa Musina who I really love to watch, but she will hopefully learn from this.

There was no real expectation heading into the season for CMB Cargo Uni Gyor as they had assembled a roster which in terms of resources, was always going to struggle. And, with a 1-13 record I can't go any higher with my rating, but the road win at Mersin was very much a highlight. I had expected Gyor to win at least two games and maybe three, but they were one victory short of my expectations and had too many blowouts go against them. Probably only Cyesha Goree and Zofia Hruscakova did themselves justice in terms of shooting the ball well enough.

The first season at the helm of Dynamo Kursk has been a triumph so far for Lucas Mondelo. You can't do any more than post an unbeaten Regular Season and so impressive it included a double over a duo like Fenerbahce and ZVVZ USK Prague who are Final Four regulars.

I think this was so-so from ESBVA-LM because I did not expect Avenida, Bourges, Hatay and Nadezhda to all finish above them. Obviously UMMC was a 'no brainer' in that context. With Alina Iagupova, Valeriane Ayayi and Olivia Epoupa, I thought that real quality intake last summer would give them something better than a 6-8 losing record. Epoupa getting injured was some mitigation and I understand it was actually their best total of wins in the tournament to date, so maybe I am being slightly harsh. They struggled to get on the same page offensively early in the season but seem to have improved with time and if they re-enter next year and keep the same roster, it could be very effective.

To make the top four in the Group was a terrific achievement for Beretta Famila Schio, who have been without their powerhouse in the paint, Isabelle Yacoubou for the majority of the season. With some other injuries thrown in, credit must be given to former head coach Miguel Mendez and his replacement Mauro Procaccini who finished the job off. I have to give major props here to Endene Miyem, because she is a machine of unerring consistency in this competition and a great warrior, while Jolene Anderson keeps on impressing on the wing.

You can't criticize the 11-3 record of Fenerbahce too much, even if they might be disappointed in having had Dynamo Kursk complete a double over them and you may recall they nearly lost in a potentially spectacular upset at CMB Cargo Uni Gyor - but squeezed out a 66-64 win. I would argue the case that their best is yet to come and the signing of Candace Parker has shown their intent. Certainly two other 2016 WNBA Champions in Sandrine Gruda and Jantel Lavender have been standouts. I am thrilled to see Birsel Vardarli Demirmen enjoying a renaissance with more than six assists per game, but it is the shooting percentages of the guard and wing players that was not quite as good as it could be.

You can follow Paul @basketmedia365