|17 October 2012|
|Spain internationals Cindy Lima and Amaya Valdemoro have chosen to move to Turkey and form part of Tarsus's ambitious new project|
By Paul Nilsen
EuroLeague Women newcomers Tarsus look an interesting team on paper although so far at least, they are simply that - a list of names on some paper.
Without any kind of continuity whatsoever, Tarsus heads into its first-ever season at the elite level wondering if this team can, and will gel.
Or, whether they will be punished for a slow start as the players try to discover the necessary chemistry.
Rarely has there been a club who has seen such a radical and dramatic series of roster changes.
It's hardly ideal preparation, although perhaps it depends whether you view the Tarsus ‘experiment' (as it has been labelled elsewhere) as the glass being half-full or half empty.
Putting a positive spin on things, this is a clean slate for the fledgling EuroLeague Women club, and they have utilised a stack load of veteran know-how to try and limit the damage of having little or no continuity.
They have brought a couple of EuroLeague Women legends to help them try to post a strong season in the form of Delisha Milton Jones and Amaya Valdemoro.
Whilst both have had some frustrating injury issues during recent years, their quality is undeniable and there is very little either one has not seen during their illustrious and highly decorated careers.
Valdemoro has been written off by some, but Tarsus fans will be hoping she still has the twinkle in her eye and the gas left in the tank to lead this team with some of her trademark skills and offensive capabilities.
As for Milton-Jones, she will continue to be one of the leading EuroLeague Women warriors in the paint.
|Latvia international Liene Jansone returns to a EuroLeague Women club after four seasons |
If she arguably didn't quite hit the heights at USK Prague as she did so brilliantly with previous clubs, that doesn't necessarily mean she is on the slide. Far from it.
I expect Milton-Jones may just post one of her best seasons with this fresh challenge in front of her. After all, she has produced some fine work on both sides of the Atlantic but playing in this competition always seems to suit her.
So, with two bona-fide legendary stars on board, Tarsus is handed a sizeable dose of experience and this is extended even further with the acquisition of frontcourt duo Cindy Lima and Liene Jansone.
Both are seasoned performers for both club and country with each posting strong performances for Spain and Latvia respectively during the recent EuroBasket Women 2013 qualification campaign.
With the capable Melisa Can also making a switch from fellow Turkish team Galatasaray, Tarsus has a frontcourt quartet which looks hard-nosed and laden with veteran skills, meaning they could clean up on the glass and no opponent will be able to take liberties in the paint.
It will be interesting whether they will get enough scoring, but collectively, it is likely to be as good (and perhaps even better) as having one real standout player getting 15-20 points per game.
The backcourt will be less certain - even if new playmaker and electric-paced Danielle Robinson is very highly talented, as evidenced by her WNBA contribution with San Antonio Silver Stars.
Great in transition and with an ability to get to the hoop, she looks a perfect fit to get the ball into the hands of the forwards in the right spots or to capitalise on turnovers for fast-break scores.
As for the core of Turkish players, they have been drafted in from a host of clubs around the league.
Swingman Dila Askin is one player who could have a big role to play and she got a real taste of the big stage last year when she competed with Kayseri Kaski spor, who made it to the EuroCup Women Final.
Similarly, small forward Gokce Dogan has found brief court-time with the national team a couple of years ago and will also be an important player if Valdemoro is ruled out of any games.
Melike Talaslioglu, Deniz Boz and Seda Tabakci complete the line-up of Turkish players and will all probably see action coming off the bench.
|By recruiting DeLisha Milton-Jones, the fourth-leading scorer in EuroLeague Women history, newcomers Tarsus made an early statement of intent |
On paper, Tarsus can not only be competitive, they can be a danger in this competition.
But, there are a number of issues. In terms of on the court itself, there does look to be a potential lack of a three-point threat and this could hurt them.
When it comes to both on and off the court, the aforementioned chemistry could be a factor and it will be important the Turkish and import players are well integrated.
Additionally, Tarsus has the toughest schedule in the entire competition with five of their first six games away from home.
This will be the ultimate test of durability- both physically and mentally. It means the key to their entire season because of this unusually demanding schedule may well be the quality of care and preparation provided by the backroom team, including the medical staff and the team manager.
Those guys will have to be at the top of their game if they want to make sure these Tarsus players are able to cope with a hectic start to the season and the rigours of excessive travel so early in the season.
They must get themselves into a position to have an opportunity to still advance to the post season ahead of a bunch of home games from mid-December onwards.
Notably, even the very top teams find winning on the road difficult so it will be an interesting first six rounds of action.
Tarsus may have finished way down in the Turkish League last season, but that has little relevance to where they find themselves now after a vigorous summer sweep of the brush.
They have a real chance of picking up some wins and will have already targeted both BK Imos Brno and Uni Gyor as potential victims.
Tarsus is indeed a project of sorts, but one which could be successful and will most definitely be worth following very closely.