|Avenida missing out on the Final Four was the only thing gone wrong in an otherwise perfect 2010 for Lyttle|
By Paul Nilsen
When it comes to making an instant impact in EuroLeague Women, it's hard to look past the sparkling contribution of Sancho Lyttle.
An established star of the competition despite having played in the tournament for barely 18 months, she has averaged a double-double ever since she stepped onto the big stage.
It's hardly surprising that when Spain had the opportunity to get her in their National Team vest their took it with gusto.
Lyttle has been reflecting on an eventful period of her career with Paul Nilsen finding out more about her meteoric rise to prominence on behalf of fibaeurope.com
FIBA Europe: Let's start with arguably the biggest event of the year and the FIBA World Championship Women. Was it a no-brainer to play for Spain once the idea arose and how was the process of linking up with the team and actually standing to the anthem - at least with Spain you didn't have any words to learn!
Sancho Lyttle: "Spain approached me with an opportunity that I couldn't pass up. To play for them on one of the biggest stages - the FIBA World Championship Women. I was sceptical on how that was even going to happen but all I had to do was accept their invitation and then leave everything else up to them. They worked long and hard getting all documents in place and taking care of all the loose ends that might have caused a problem. The least of my worries was the national anthem ha ha! I had to find a way to fit in with the group as fast as I could because I had not practiced with the team until the week I arrived in the Czech Republic due to a prior engagement I needed to take care of."
FIBA Europe: I described you playing for Spain as the ‘biggest signing of the summer' last year. You didn't let me down with some fantastic numbers. Overall though, how do you assess the actual tournament for you and for the team?
Sancho Lyttle: "The team did great. They set out to get a medal and they pursued their goal and got bronze. The tournament was new for me and the whole experience was overwhelming - seeing all the top players in the world at one venue fighting for a medal. As for the way I played: I was excited and very happy to be a part of something I never dreamt would happen to me and I guess all that excitement help me to play to the best of my abilities."
FIBA Europe: A fantastic season double-double in 2009-10 for you in EuroLeague Women but no Final Four appearance and no All Star appearance - would you say it was a little bitter sweet?
Sancho Lyttle: "Yes I had a fantastic season in 2009-2010 and even though both the team and myself wasn't in the Final Four and I was not there for the All Star game, all this has given me the motivation to do better and to improve, I am always trying to improve and whether it comes with recognition or not, I am the one that has to be happy with what I do."
|Lyttle forms a powerful frontcourt partnership with Erika De Souza, one of the players to have played for both Spanish arch-rivals|
FIBA Europe: Salamanca really had to do a lot to hang on to you last summer. While you obviously love the club and fans since you stayed, there must have been some other tempting offers and linked to this, how important is it that you reach the last four this season to justify staying at the club?
Sancho Lyttle: "I stayed with Salamanca because I was comfortable and because they were putting together a team that had the potential to improve in every aspect of the club. The fans here are great and I can't complain about the city either but my reason for staying anywhere is because I am comfortable."
FIBA Europe: How do you think the season has gone for you and the team? You started so well and only had a slight wobble. It's looking good for the latter stages of the tournament?
Sancho Lyttle: "The season has gone by as good as it could have. It could have been better if we had not lost any games, but there is still a lot of areas that the team and I have to improve on and many more games to be played."
FIBA Europe: Which teams and players have impressed you this season in EuroLeague Women?
Sancho Lyttle: "To be honest I don't follow teams and players in that kind of way. What I do know is that the top teams are still on top and the best players are still playing great."
FIBA Europe: For a couple of seasons I have felt guilty for keep mentioning the three-point shooting of Torrens which I felt would make her a more complete player. Now she has added consistency from the perimeter she looks to be unstoppable (thankfully justifying me being so mean to her). She really looks to be maturing big time this year and has took it to a new level?
Sancho Lyttle: "Sometimes players need haters to motivate them. Not calling you that but with negative words comes motivating from within a person and they will motivate themselves to improve. I always saw her potential and she is a great player and now that she has improved from behind the arc, she has gained respect form her peers and now she has freedom to be whereever she wants on the court."
FIBA Europe: From a club perspective, some fans in Europe who don't follow the WNBA closely might not have known much about you previously as you were with a smaller team in Ibiza but you were then catapulted into the limelight at Salamanca. Overall, it couldn't have went much better for you in terms of production and your own profile being raised?
Sancho Lyttle: "Ibiza was my starting point. You can't learn to walk without crawling first. I had to learn the way of life and the way the game is played overseas. Because I was so young in playing the game and because I started playing when I went to College, I had to take my time to improve on the skills I lacked. I stayed there for 3 years learning and improving and when I felt it was time for me to take my skills somewhere else, it was a bitter sweet moment because I loved that place. Playing in Europe has been great for me and it has put my name out there for many other teams to be interested in me."
FIBA Europe: You obviously knew of the rivalry between Valencia and Salamanca from your time playing in Liga Femenina previously but what is it like when you are thrust onto one of those teams? It seems such an intense fight for trophies and of course the strange thing is that there has been a lot of movement of personnel between both teams too!
Sancho Lyttle: "I knew about the rivalry between Valencia and Salamanca and the rivalry amongst the fans is also a big part when two top teams come head to head in the fight for supremacy. It is great because the competition is greater and the match-up between players and the clubs is very high. The tension is like something between two raging bulls and that is what every athlete lives for."
FIBA Europe: Finishing with WNBA, how was 2010 for you and what does 2011 hold?
Sancho Lyttle: "2010 has been the greatest year I have had since playing basketball. I made all my goals and all the improvements that I had set for myself. The WNBA All Star game, the WNBA finals, bronze at the FIBA World Championship Women. 2011 is another year where I will set more and different goals for myself and to always improve on things in my game and in my life."