By Jeff Taylor
Of all the attributes that Ilona Korstin brings to a basketball team, her most important is her even-keel approach.
Nothing is ever as great as it seems, and nothing is ever as bad.
While her club side, Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje, no longer has the exquisite, out-of-this-world talent that goes by the name of Diana Taurasi after the American's move to Fenerbahce, it remains one of the top sides in the world.
"We will miss Diana Taurasi," Korstin said to Basketball World News.
|Korstin admits they will miss Diana Taurasi but finds plenty of reasons to be optimistic |
"She was very special for the team not only as a player but as a person.
"I don't how it will be without her.
"But we will have Lauren Jackson, who is coming back.
"She is one of the best players in the world.
"Sue Bird has stayed and then we have very good European players like Anete Jekabsone and Jelena Milovanovic, with Sonja Petrovic (eventually) returning to play after injury.
"And we also have Russian players like Irina Osipova."
USA international Bird is one of, if not the best points guards in basketball, while Jackson is a superstar.
Sure, she had a sub-par FIBA World Championship when her Australia squad fell in the Quarter-Finals to the Czech Republic, but Lauren Jackson is Lauren Jackson.
The 29-year-old has won three WNBA MVP awards - the third this season - and continues to dominate the game.
Jekabsone is the former FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year who is looking to take her game to a new level.
The scoring machine is only 27 and in a team that no longer has Taurasi, she is almost certain to be one that stands out.
There are others in the Sparta&K squad, too, like Epiphanny Prince and Noelle Quinn.
"We have a very competitive team and a very smart and good coach," Korstin said.
"I think we can defend the EuroLeague title."
The coach is Pokey Chatman.
She served as an assistant for a couple of seasons before being handed the reins to the club early last season.
"Pokey prepares the games so well and she always surprises us," Korstin said.
"I've learned a lot from her.
"At the beginning, it was hard because I had to fight for my place in the team and fight to have playing time.
"But once I was given some confidence from the coach, things went well and we won the EuroLeague together.
"I really have fun playing for Pokey."
Sparta&K will begin their quest for a fifth title in the competition on Wednesday in Lithuania against VICI Aistes.