|The return of Dewanna Bonner is a big bonus for Nadezhda|
We take a look at the prospects of Russian club, Nadezhda Orenburg, who have twice missed the chance to advance to the Final Eight by slipping out at the play-off stage.
Last Season: A relatively strong 8-4 record during the regular season propelled Nadezhda to a respectable third place finish in Group B. However, the wheels came off when they were beaten 2-0 in a play-off series against CCC Polkowice.
Roster Review: Wily Lithuanian Algirdas Paulauskas returns at the helm having taken over in the middle of last season and he will have to integrate a number of new faces, although the retention of last seasons' stand-out player Dewanna Bonner will be the biggest tick on his satisfaction survey. The addition of playmaker Temeka Johnson will also make him smile, since she has been very productive for former club Dynamo Kursk during the last two seasons and brings plenty of creativity and scoring prowess. The team has also been handed a great degree of fight and quality with the arrival of Greek forward Zoi Dimitrakou who just gets better with age and also Spanish veteran Anna Cruz, a brilliant ‘glue' player for any team who will cover many of the intangibles. Russian frontcourt pair Natalia Anoikina (formerly Myasoedova) and Marina Kuzina return to the city which is yet another big plus, with the latter playing for Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje at the Final Eight last season. They will be joined by Aleksandra Tarasova who remains in situ and will be looking to press for more court time this year. The backcourt will see returnees too, including veteran Kelli Miller and Russian national team shooting guard Natalia Zhedik, whilst Tatiana Burik and Olga Ovcharenko will give back-up from the bench.
Headline Stealer: Nobody is going to write more headlines than Bonner, who is one of the biggest names in EuroLeague Women and someone who regularly racks up huge numbers. That was evidenced by the double-double season she posted last time around, with her scoring and rebounding capabilities likely to be hugely important again. She will be the driving force and certainly the Final Eight would be a fitting stage for a stellar player like her to wrap up the season.
Sliding Onto The Radar: Natalia Anoikina is not exactly a player off the radar. After all, she won gold with Russia at EuroBasket Women 2011. But, this will be her rookie season in Euroleague Women and after lighting it up in Siberia with 13.6 points and 6.1 rebounds for Dynamo Novosibirsk in EuroCup Women, maybe she can be a leader for Nadezhda too and light up the centre of this particular radar.
Scanning The Schedule: It is a really difficult start for the Orenburg club who have three road trips in their first four games at Rivas Ecopolis, BK Imos Brno and Fenerbahce. But, an opener at home against Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration provides a good chance for a positive start. They will also tussle with Wisla Can-Pack and UE Sopron.
In Just Ten Words: Third time lucky could see Nadezhda belatedly reach the Final Eight.