By Jeff Taylor
Edwige Lawson is positively giddy about this season with CSKA Moscow.
Champions of Europe three seasons ago, CSKA have as good a chance as any team in the EuroLeague Women to capture the 2007-08 title.
So far, they have won all four of their games in Group A, meaning they are one of three teams that have yet to lose in the competition.
They are also 4-0 in the Russian women's Superleague, and already this season CSKA Moscow have put a new trophy in their awards cabinet after winning the championship in
the FIBA Women's World League in Ekaterinburg.
|Edwige thinks Sandrine Gruda and UMMC Ekaterinburg are Russia's most improved team.|
Edwige, the team's point guard, spoke to Jeff Taylor on behalf of FIBA Europe.
FIBA Europe: Hi Edwige. Congratulations on CSKA Moscow's win in the FIBA Women's World League. Did that experience give you and your teammates a big shot of confidence?
Edwige: "Winning the world league definitely gave us some confidence but we also know that Ekaterinburg didn't play with their full roster and some of the good European teams were not there like Spartak (Moscow Region) or (Gambrinus) Brno, for example."
FIBA Europe: You and most of the other CSKA players had played quite a bit of basketball in the summer with your national teams. Was that an advantage for CSKA in the FIBA Women's World League, or were some of you tired?
Edwige: "I think it was an advantage because we were in game rhythm."
FIBA Europe: Everyone knows about the great tradition of CSKA, but this is a new beginning since the team has relocated from Samara to Moscow. Was it difficult saying good-bye to some of the fans in Samara and do you have a big fan base already in Moscow?
Edwige: "It was sad to leave the Samara fans because some of them gave us great support. We already have some fans here in Moscow but we hope to have even more!"
FIBA Europe: What are your early impressions so far of living in Moscow and have you been there long enough yet to have a favorite tourist spot like Red Square or the Kremlin?
Edwige: "Living in Moscow is great. There are so many things to do and so many places to go. So far, my favorite place is Red Square and the center. I like it particularly at night because of all the lights and it's always alive."
FIBA Europe: Of course the other big change with CSKA is the switch of coaches. Gundars Vetra has replaced Igor Grudin. Was this something that was decided a long time ago or was it unexpected? Also, what are you early impressions of Vetra?
Edwige: "I don't really know when they decided to take Vetra but we are very happy the management found him. I think he adapted very fast to women's basketball and has done a great job with our team. He brought a lot of discipline to our offense and it's the first season we are scoring that much."
FIBA Europe: We have to ask you about the competition level in Russia. The four EuroLeague teams there are just incredible on paper, when you consider the international players and the coaches of Spartak Moscow Region, Dynamo Moscow, UMMC Ekaterinburg
and of course, CSKA. Spartak beat you in the semi-finals of the last season's EuroLeague Women and then beat Ros Casares to clinch the title. Which team in Russia has improved the most since last season? Also, is it fair to say the title race in both Russia, and the
|Lawson and France struggled at EuroBasket Women.|
EuroLeague Women, is wide open?
Edwige: "I think that the team that improved the most is Ekaterinburg. They signed a very good coach with experience (Laurent Buffard) and some of the best players in the world. Their team is very complete. Spartak is still great. I think that this season is probably the year with the most complete teams and the most talent. It will be very hard but so interesting ..."
FIBA Europe: Edwige, we watched you play for France this summer and we know it was a huge disappointment for the team not to reach the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Les Bleues. Will this setback make the team stronger in the future or is this something that France may not recover from any time soon?
Edwige: "It was a very difficult summer for France basketball. We all hope that it will never happen again and that it was just a bad dream. We have a lot of talent in France so I'm sure we will recover."
FIBA Europe: On a more positive note, Edwige, and this is the last question. What advice would you give to little girls and boys who want to become professional basketball players?
Edwige: "Basketball is first a game.Have fun because the more you enjoy it, the more you will play and the better you will be."
FIBA Europe: Thanks very much for talking to us at FIBA Europe.