By Paul Nilsen
|Veteran Laia Palau, in her sixth year at the club, has survived another roster revolution and will form an enviable point-guard duo with Silvia Dominguez |
For the second successive summer, there has been something of a revolution in Valencia although the most recent roster re-load was slightly less dramatic than last year.
Having made the last two Final Fours, Ros Casares have come agonisingly close to realising their dream but just haven't been able to find the extra edge required to finish top of the pile.
Having missed a golden opportunity on their home floor 18 months ago, which was the spark for a major clear-out, they then had to swallow a truly bitter pill earlier this year when arch-rivals Salamanca were crowned EuroLeague Women champions.
In truth, Ros was never wholly convincing last season and I was surprised they managed to make it to the showpiece event in Ekaterinburg. In particular because of a coaching change during the campaign and some decidedly suspect performances.
However it may just be third time lucky if they get a shot at the final. They certainly have the talent and depth to get to the Final Eight at the very least. Indeed you would not back against them to be on the podium.
After all, they have such a powerful cocktail of scoring, rebounding, power and experience within their magnificent world-class quintet of Lauren Jackson, Sancho Lyttle, Ann Wauters, Jana Vesela and Isabelle Yacoubou-Dehoui.
In the backcourt, the club has Laia Palau and Silvia Dominguez who are two of the best and most experienced Euroleague Women playmakers around, while Katalin Honti is still only 24 years old and could be the player few talk about but who plays some nice cameo roles this year.
|Like Dominguez, power forward Sancho Lyttle also joined Ros Casares from EuroLeague Women champions Perfumerias Avenida|
The big issue is probably around how American duo Shay Murphy and Maya Moore settle into the team since, along with Honti, they will be expected to provide the ammunition from range.
The former knows Spanish basketball while the latter is a stellar talent and all eyes will be on her to see if she can take her first taste of pro-life from the WNBA into a rookie European season when she joins up with the team at a later date.
When you begin to assess the Ros Casares team, it's actually hard not to come to the conclusion that they could hardly have put together a deeper and more talented unit.
With a frontcourt which is potentially as good as any that has ever graced EuroLeague Women, they simply must be one of the front-runners yet again.
EUROLEAGUE WOMEN 2011: Ros finished top of Group D with an 8-2 record. They despatched MKB EuroLeasing and Bourges Basket to reach the semi-finals where they lost to Halcon Avenida.
THE GAP TO FILL: Katie Douglas brought a lot of experience to the backcourt last season and now she has departed, they may miss some of her veteran know-how.
STAR CHOICE: There are few better players anywhere in the world than the unmistakable Lauren Jackson. Having her back in the competition and hopefully firing on all cylinders is not only good for fans of Ros Casares but also for fans of women's basketball and EuroLeague Women. A phenomenal talent and influence, she could be the difference maker for Ros this season.
RISING STAR: Last season, I criticised Ros Casares for not including more young players in their revolution and this time around they have done a great job of signing up some potential stars of the future including Marles Balart. She will reap the benefits of practicing every day with such great players and I hope we get at least a glimpse of her at the elite level this season.
DID YOU KNOW? Ros Casares produced their worst offensive display of the season at the Final Four when they failed to break the 50-point barrier against Halcon Avenida in the semi-final.
THE NILSEN NOTE: Last season it was a little ugly at times at the offensive end and perhaps because of this, Ros simply had to play great defence to get to the Final Four. They were the second best defensive team in the competition. However now they have bolstered their firepower, I am intrigued to see if there will be any slippage defensively as a trade-off.