PaulBall: Is It October Yet?

06 July 2010

 Paul NilsenPaul Nilsen is a freelance basketball journalist writing for various web-sites and publications across Europe. If you would like to contact Paul you can e-mail him here  

If you're anything like me, you might just be doing a rather silly thing over the next few months and willing the leaves to fall from the trees. Yes, thanks to the EuroLeague Women draw and a brand new logo, I am already wishing away the long summer nights and beckoning autumn with real gusto.

I know, I know puffing out my cheeks and blowing at every passing tree is a fruitless exercise. The same could probably be said for even trying to offer any kind of purposeful analysis of the ELW draw at this rather premature juncture.

14. Penny Taylor (Fenerbahce)
Penny Taylor will team with Diana Taurasi at Fenerbahce this season.
As with everyone else, once the teams were pitched into their respective pools, the instinctive reaction is to try and analyse the match-ups and predict how each pool of teams might eventually pan out.

In reality however, I guess there is little point in even trying since it would merely be a case of fumbling around in the dark - for there is so much basketball water still to pass under the respective FIBA and WNBA bridges before all of those EuroLeague Women rosters are populated in earnest.

What the events of last weekend did brilliantly was to fuel our collective appetites for the 2010/11 competition by reminding us of what lies on the horizon. The countdown is now on and we can look forward to ELW coming more sharply into focus during coming months.

I guess we didn't exactly need it, but it also reminded us that when it comes to drama and intrigue, the elite club competition of Womens basketball never fails to disappoint - just ask fans of Ekat or the best player in the World.

I suppose we all knew it would happen at some point. You see, it just didn't matter which new EuroLeague Women club the dynamic Diana Taurasi decided to grace with her talent for the 2010/11 campaign - I am absolutely convinced that it was always written by the gods that UMMC Ekaterinburg would still end up facing their ELW nemesis.

It looks like the gods were definitely with the fans on this one and granted us our wishes by calling this legendary, near-perennial and always mouth watering ELW duel nice and early. Not to mention what a terrific start it also provides for the returning Coach Ratgeber who will truly relish the challenge of pitting his wits against Gundars Vetra.

Elsewhere, Sylvia Fowles will make a quick return to the Spartak floor with Galatasaray.

The immediate aftermath of any such draw is of course a particularly exciting time for the new teams in the competition such as USO Mondeville and Nadezhda Orenburg whose initial commitment to the tournament suddenly becomes a delicious reality - even if faced with some hugely daunting games.

For the fans too it is a great time to plan some potentially great basketball adventures. Fingers will have no doubt been clicking furiously on keyboards across Europe, searching the worldwide web to see what trips are feasible. For those located centrally in Poland, Hungary and Slovakia it was a brilliant draw with Wisla Can-Pack, Pecs 2010 and Good Angels Kosice all thrown into the same group.

For supporters from Krakow in particular, the draw will make for very pleasant reading. Their passionate vocal support for the team last season was one of the most abiding memories and features of the 2010 campaign.

Things are definitely beginning to take shape slowly across the entire spectrum of EuroLeague Women clubs and now that the groups are set. Each subsequent arrival of any player at every club means a little more than it did previously since the completion of the draw now gives us the added dimension of being able to talk about individual match-ups - and a whole lot more.

After the initial buzz surrounding the post-season revolution at Ros, the potentially seismic shift of power towards Turkey at Fenerbahce and the impressively solid work in Salamanca at Halcon Avenida, it now looks like Beretta-Famila Schio could be the dark horses for success at Final our next year.

Much will of course depend on team chemistry but having done relatively well last year, you have to love the way things are shaping up so far. Certainly the acquisitions of the powerful and durable duo of Janel McCarville and Maja Erkic to go with the likes of Liron Cohen and all built around some Macchi magic could be really exciting.

Rather than focus merely on the headline acts this summer, I am also keeping a watching brief on some of the rising stars of EuroLeague Women and potential rising stars who will hopefully be signed and handed an opportunity.

Whenever the FIBA Europe youth campaigns begin, trying to anticipate potential future stars of ELW is a wonderful exercise. I really hope that some of the clubs involved in the competition will be looking beyond both the big names and might be bold enough to throw the odd U20 player in at the deep end.

That is just one talking point of many and as I continue to wish away the summer months with abandon, my cravings for dark autumn and winter nights punctuated and illuminated by red-hot ELW action show absolutely no signs of slowing down.

For now, I guess I will just have to find some patience, hold off on those group previews for a little while longer and try to enjoy watching with interest as the pieces of the EuroLeague Women 2011 puzzle fall neatly into place.


01.02.2011 - EuroLeague Women

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Schio, ITA
Bourges, FRA
Istanbul, TUR
Istanbul, TUR
Gorzów Wielkopolski, POL
Gospic, CRO
Salamanca, ESP
Gdynia, POL
Sopron, HUN
Orenburg, RUS
Pécs, HUN
Rivas Vaciamadrid , ESP
Valencia, ESP
Tarbes Cedex, FRA
Riga, LAT
Verkhnyaya Pyshma, RUS
Mondeville, FRA
Kaunas, LTU
Krakow, POL
Prague 7, CZE