By Jeff Taylor
Katie Douglas is in her second stint with Ros Casares in Valencia, Spain.
The sun is still shining in this Mediterranean city, the third most populated in the country.
It's a very good place to live for a professional basketball player.
|Laia Palau is one of the "old guard" that was still around when Douglas returned to Valencia|
Unlike her first spell with the club in the 2007-08 campaign, though, when Ros won their first 13 games in the EuroLeague Women, this season's squad has hit some bumps in the road.
Halcon Avenida are leading Spain's Liga Femenina and Rivas Ecopolis won the Copa de la Reina, beating Ros Casares in the final at La Fonteta.
"When I look back at my first year with Ros Casares compared to this year, we've lost quite a few more games," Douglas, 31, said to Basketball World News.
"But with that being said, this is a completely new team.
"Laia Palau has been pretty much the only constant on this team.
"Any time you bring in 10 new players, you need some time to build a foundation."
Ros believed they had the makings of a title-winning side last season in Europe with players like Amaya Valdemoro, Elisa Aguilar, Delisha Milton-Jones, Belinda Snell and others but they came up just short of the European title, losing in a tough Final at home to Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.
The club virtually cleaned house, with the exception of Palau, Jana Vesela, Ljubica Drljaca and Cindy Lima, who had joined late last season and didn't play for the club in the EuroLeague.
Drljaca played eight EuroLeague Women games in the 2010-11 campaign before leaving the team.
Coach Isma Canto also left after last summer and was replaced by Jordi Fernandez, the coach of Halcon Avenida last season.
Almost immediately after Ros Casares' 86-63 victory over MKB Euroleasing Sopron, February 9, a win that put the team into the Quarter-Finals, the club dropped a bombshell.
Ros Casares had replaced Fernandez with the respected Slovakian coach Natalia Hejkova.
No one was unhappy with the arrival of Hejkova, who led Sparta&K to their first two EuroLeague Women crowns and two decades ago had guided Ruzomberok to back-to-back titles in Europe.
Yet no one had known a change was coming.
"It caught all of us by surprise," said Douglas, who is averaging 17.6 points per game.
"It was such a high-pressure game for us to win Game 3 against Sopron, and then to learn about it.
"But I think as professionals, we know that things can happen. Everyone was sad to see coach Jordi go, but we're professionals.
"I've dealt with it before. It's kind of a sad day, but you have to move on."
Will Ros Casares be better off with Hejkova in charge?
"I think you have seen us have our struggles, but hopefully we're going to be able to peak at the right time," Douglas said.
"We didn't want to peak in December.
"Hopefully, we're going to start playing some really good, solid basketball and start peaking in March and April.
"It's a big team, a big club with high aspirations and goals and we've been trying to put this thing together for the past week and work towards our goal."
The big games that will now be played by Ros Casares will be against Bourges, the French giants in the EuroLeague Women Quarter-Finals.
The opener will be on Tuesday at La Fonteta.
"We played them in the first round," Douglas said.
"We're 1-1. We're extremely familiar with them and they are with us. It's going to be difficult, probably a pretty ugly three-game series."
Ros won the first game between the sides back on November 2, 74-47.
Bourges avenged that setback with a 58-55 win in France on December 8.
"We're looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we can protect our home court," Douglas said.