| ||Jeff Taylor has been covering European basketball since 1997, when he first worked on the television program SLAM. He has been a basketball writer and broadcaster since that time, traveling the continent and covering the game in depth for FIBA Europe since its launch in 2003. |
Sancho Lyttle is in the midst of a 10-month stretch that makes her, and everyone else that hears about it, tired.
Think about what this player from St Vincent, the West Indies, has been up to.
Last summer when she was in the United States, the 1.90m power forward helped Atlanta make an unexpected run to the WNBA Finals.
In three thrilling games, the Seattle Storm won 79-77, 87-84 and 87-84 against the Dream, with the last contest played on September 16.
Lyttle didn't have time to think about being exhausted because seven days later, she was running up and down the floor with a different team, Spain, at the FIBA World Championship for Women in Brno, the Czech Republic.
"I just played, slept, played some more, slept," Lyttle says to Basketball World News.
"It was good, different.
"When you have different things, your body can adjust to it."
After helping Spain beat Belarus to win the bronze medal on October 3, Lyttle returned to Salamanca, Spain, to begin her second campaign with Halcon Avenida.
She's had a huge year.
Avenida won the Supercopa, finished first in the Liga Femenina regular season with just one defeat and also reached the EuroLeague Women Final Four for the second time in three years.
That event will be played this weekend in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
When she pauses and reflects on what's been happening in her life, the soft-spoken Lyttle remembers the toughest moments being in the Czech Republic.
|Lyttle put on the Spain shirt for the first time last year and -if she doesn't run out of fuel- she'll make her first EuroBasket Women appearance in Poland. This weekend though, there is the little bussiness of a EuroLeague Women Final Four to take care of|
"I was running off so much adrenaline," she says.
"It was difficult, going straight from the WNBA Finals to the World Championship."
The Final Four
Avenida are hoping that Lyttle will have plenty of fuel in the tank on Friday when she faces Ros Casares.
They need Lyttle like a car needs a chassis.
Lyttle has nearly averaged a double-double in points (13.9) and rebounds (9.4) in the EuroLeague Women.
If Avenida beat Ros Casares and reach the title game, Lyttle and teammate Erika De Souza will be a handful for the side that wins between UMMC and four-time defending champions Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje.
Come Monday, Lyttle and Avenida will be on a plane back to Spain.
And after wrapping up the Liga Femenina campaign, she will once again put on the Spain shirt.
Lyttle doesn't think about the tiredness factor, and whether she'll be at her best when the national team plays its First Round games in Katowice, beginning June 18.
"I won't know until then," she says.
"When you put your mind to something, then your body can follow.
"But after it finishes, then it breaks down.
"We'll see when the time comes what will happen."
The MVP of the last two EuroLeague Women Final Fours was Diana Taurasi, but she didn't make it to the big event this year.
If Avenida win, Lyttle could be the MVP.
Both she and USA gold-medal winner Taurasi were named to the All-Star Five at the World Championship.
In the Czech Republic, when Lyttle wasn't at the hotel sleeping, she was dominating on the court, averaging 18.4 points and 11.5 rebounds for Spain.
Her inclusion on the all-tournament team was a no-brainer.
"Some opportunities make people shine and my opportunity took me places that I never thought I would get to," Lyttle says.
What she regretted most about her national team experience was not being able to play against Taurasi and the United States in the Semi-Finals.
She had a back injury.
"It was difficult, but I was in so much pain," she says. "I just hoped that I would be able to play again."
Lyttle followed up the World Championship with a great season that earned her a first appearance in the EuroLeague Women All-Star Game last month.
At 27, she has many big games in front of her.
None of them come any bigger than this weekend in Russia.
"Hopefully I'll be able to accomplish what I want to do before I retire one day," she says.