BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|UMMC are excited that point guard Sue Bird (pictured) will be pairing up with fellow American star Diana Taurasi and believe coach Lange will steer them to the EuroLeague Women title |
By Jeff Taylor
UMMC Ekaterinburg have appointed Olaf Lange as their new head coach and former Australia international Sandy Brondello as his assistant.
The Russian champions have opted for a husband and wife team that have worked together for many years.
Lange, 40, a native of Berlin, coached German club Goldzack Wuppertal from 1997 to 2002 and led them to a EuroLeague Women final in his first season at the helm.
Brondello, a 1.70m guard, was a player on that team.
The two were assistant coaches together at the San Antonio Silver Stars in the WNBA and Brondello served as head coach for a spell, during the 2010 campaign.
The duo have replaced Algirdas Paulauskas at UMMC.
Paulauskas' number two had been his fellow Lithuanian, Rimantas Grigas, the recently-appointed coach of the Belarus women's team.
"Everyone can see that in the upcoming season the roster of UMMC includes a sufficient number of players with WNBA experience - actually the biggest number in the club's history ever, I would say," UMMC general manager Maxim Ryabkov said to Basketball World News.
"This is the main reason why we decided to invite a coach with the basketball background which is similar to the background of most of our players - and our decision is Olaf Lange with the help of Sandy Brondello.
"This coaching duo got a huge experience inside one of the leading WNBA club San Antonio Silver Stars working with (WNBA coaches) Brian Agler and Dan Hughes and having the opportunity to guide the team during Dan's absence for a time.
"Olaf Lange and Sandy Brondello are respected by the players and can talk to the team in the same basketball language.
"Olaf Lange will start the pre-season work at UMMC camp in early September and Sandy Brondello will join the team as soon as the WNBA season is over for her current club, the Los Angeles Sparks, where she is working as an assistant this summer."
UMMC won the title in 2003 but haven't captured the trophy since although they have won numerous titles in Russia.
Ekaterinburg finished third at the EuroLeague Women Final Fours in 2008, '09, '10 and '11, and they also came in third this season at the inaugural Final Eight in Istanbul.
UMMC have made sweeping changes, the biggest of which was announced on Wednesday when the club confirmed the arrival of four-time EuroLeague Women champion Diana Taurasi.
When asked about Taurasi's arrival, Ryabkov said: "I can say that we are happy to bring Diana Taurasi to Ekaterinburg!
"The negotiations were fast and constructive and it proves that both parties are interested in each other.
"And that's natural when the leading clubs want to have the best players in the roster and the best players want to join the leading clubs.
"In my opinion, the Ekaterinburg crowd in the DIVS gym and Diana are made for each other and I hope everybody will have a lot of fun in the upcoming season."
Taurasi has not captured a EuroLeague Women crown the last two seasons, after parting company with UMMC arch-rivals Sparta&K M.R Vidnoje.
"Diana is hungry for the new titles after two seasons out of Russia and overseas, so is UMMC," Ryabkov said.
"And I predict that basketball fans will enjoy watching Diana playing together with Sue Bird again.
"We are all just about show-time now."