Buffard Expects Big Things In Two Years At UMMC


Outgoing USVO Valenciennes coach Laurent Buffard is targeting European success at new club UMMC Ekaterinburg within two years when he leaves for Russia at the end of this season.

Buffard has signed a two-year deal at UMMC and will take charge of the 2003 EuroLeague Women champions for the start of the next campaign.

The 43-year-old will have plenty of money at his disposal as he looks to get UMMC, who have struggled this year by their own high standards, back in the hunt for silverware.

Winner of the 2004 FIBA EuroLeague Women: US Valenciennes Olympic
Buffard won titles with US Valenciennes Olympic and he hopes to do the same at UMMC.
A European title is at the top of his agenda, and he hopes to secure that by recruiting some of the world's leading players.

That includes bringing back to UMMC Australia center Lauren Jackson, who currently turns out for Seattle in the WBNA and who played a huge role in her country's gold-medal performance at last year's FIBA World Championship for Women in Brazil.

"I am leaving for Ekaterinburg with the sporting ambition of being in the Final Four next season and winning the European title in two years," he said at a press conference on Tuesday night.

"Ekaterinburg are offering me limitless funds for recruitment.

"Lauren Jackson is one of the possibilities, for example. If she doesn't come, it will not be because of financial reasons."

Jackson, an Australian international, is one of the best players in the world and she had a stint with UMMC already, playing for them in the EuroLeague Women in 2004.

She won the world title last season with the Opals in Brazil. 

"With Samara and Spartak Moscow, the competition is intense. All means will be given to me," he added.

Buffard's CV is trophy-laden thanks to a highly successful eight years at USVO.

They have won the EuroLeague twice, in 2002 and 2004, and have reached the final of the same competition on two other occasions (in 2001 and 2003).

Domestically, USVO have dominated the French championship under Buffard, winning five successive league titles from 2001 to 2005, and also claiming the Coupe de France four years on the trot, from 2001 to 2004.

They are going well in the Ligue Feminine this season, and are top of the standings with an 18-3 record, a point clear of Bourges and Villeneuve d'Ascq.

Buffard said it was not the first time he had been sounded out by the Russians.

"I have already been contacted by Moscow and Ekaterinburg after our title (in Pecs). I could not see myself refusing this time."

Buffard will help in the appointment of a new coach at USVO before making his move to Russia.

UMMC were ousted from this year's EuroLeague Women in the Eighth Final Play-Offs, losing their best-of-three series against MKB Euroleasing 2-1.

And they are only fourth in the Russian women's Superleague this season, having lost five of their 14 games.

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