By Paul Nilsen
|Laura Macchi is still the marquee player for Famila Schio, who are relying on a completely revamped roster this season|
Famila Schio will fly the flag solo for Italy this season and will be hoping to replicate last years' accomplishment of reaching the Final Eight.
With arch rivals Cras Basket Taranto not entering the competition, Schio stand as the only Italian club in EuroLeague Women and there has been a relatively significant change in personnel from the team that stepped out in Istanbul earlier this year.
A host of headline names have departed including the likes of Liron Cohen, Janel McCarville, Cheryl Ford, Ivana Jalcova, Maja Erkic and Aija Brumermane. Whilst it does not represent a total clear-out, it's undeniably a healthy sweep of the broom by the Schio management.
One of the main arrivals is highly talented playmaker Giorgia Sottana who made the summer switch from arch rivals Cras Basket Taranto.
The guard is brimming with confidence and tipping Schio to excel this year- if they can find some all-important chemistry quickly.
"I think we are a great team, with great and talented players" insisted Sottana.
We need to learn how to play together and for each other. If we can do this, I'm sure it's going to be a really good season in both of our competitions - the Italian League, and in Europe.
She added, "I spent an amazing year in Taranto and I'm thankful for all they gave me, but now, I'm looking forward to playing with my new team and I'm really happy that I can continue playing in Euroleague Women.
The playmaker has barely had time to breathe during a busy year both domestically, and also with the
|"It was tiring but absolutely worthy" says Giorgia Sottana of Italy's successful EuroBasket Women Qualification Round campaign|
Italian national team, where she played a leading role in propelling Italy back to the EuroBasket Women top table.
"It was tiring, but absolutely worthy" smiled Sottana.
"My team-mates were awesome, and I'm so happy for making it to France. It was definitely the perfect ending after a long and satisfying season!"
The other main recruit in the backcourt is Belgian playmaker Kathy Wambe who like Sottana, also used to play for Cras Basket Taranto and she will share the responsibility for running the team, something which was almost exclusively the responsibility of Liron Cohen last season.
The potentially biggest provider of offensive production will come from swingman Danielle McCray who showed during her rookie EuroLeague Women season with Good Angels Kosice that she can pose a real scoring threat having averaged over 15 points per game. Most pertinently, she is a true danger from downtown and that kind of potent firepower could be invaluable.
The main frontcourt change sees Jantel Lavender replacing Cheryl Ford, although this isn't a particularly dramatic change of direction as both are really tough players under the basket who know what it takes to get the job done.
Perhaps the real bonus was seeing Elodie Godin arrive together with Sottana from Taranto, since the power forward played so well coming off the bench for silver medal winning France at the London Olympics.
Also still on the roster is veteran duo Rafaella Masciadri and Laura Macchi. They remain hugely important to Schio and are capable of firing the team to more success as well as providing a vast amount of experience having competed at the elite level for both club and country for such an impressively long time.
It's just such a shame that they aren't complimented by the presence of Chiara Consolini who suffered a serious knee injury and is still continuing to recover fully.
Having played second fiddle to Cras Basket Taranto domestically last year when they really struggled to win against their main challenger, this new-look Schio team has given an instant return domestically by winning the Italian Super Cup against Taranto last weekend.
When it comes to also attaining success in EuroLeague Women, it looks like it will come down to how Schio performs in the play-offs, because failing to make the post-season would represent a considerable under-achievement for Maruizio Lasi and his team.
Whether they can make back-to-back Final Eight appearances remains less certain, although nobody in the Italian town will be complaining if they repeat their play-off heroics of last year when they disposed of defending champions Perfumerias Avenida.