|Dutch international Chatilla van Grinsven will make her EuroLeague Women debut this winter with Bourges|
We take a look at the Euroleague Women prospects of the French champions who finished in third spot at the Final Eight last year, despite suffering an injury crisis.
Last Season: Bourges started out well and finished second in Group A during the first stage, winning 9 of their 12 games. They then eliminated Wisla Can-Pack in an emotional and riveting play-off series to reach the Final Eight for the first time. Having already suffered from a string of injuries throughout the campaign, the trend continued in Ekaterinburg, but did not prevent a gutsy and memorable run to the podium which resulted in head coach Valerie Garnier and her players receiving widespread and deserved acclaim for their efforts.
Roster Review: It looks like Bourges have made an upgrade to their roster this year with added depth and quality, not least with the arrival of Cathy Joens, who can put points on the board in a hurry, as can shooting guard Paoline Salagnac. Alternatively, the athletic French national team forward Diandra Tchatchouang gives the team an option to go seriously big. They could have their new recruit play the three spot and that would mean the returning Endene Miyem and defensive anchor Emmeline Ndongue in the other two frontcourt spots. With that trio, the superb defensive guard play of Celine Dumerc and quick hands of shooting guard Johannah Leedham for example, Bourges could be a seriously fearsome defensive unit again. Throw in the fact that Aussie center Marianna Tolo is also now on board along with dynamic and exciting Dutch ace Chatilla van Grinsven and Bourges look quite deep. They also have Romane Bernies too, a young player who made a big name for herself with a breakthrough season last year and she will be a factor again, whilst several other young players are looking to emerge. Look out for 1997-born Lisa Berkani in coming years - definitely one for the future!
Headline Stealer: Who else? But, surely FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year, Celine Dumerc. She played all of last season with a smile on her face and was absolutely loving the post-Olympic feeling and buzz heading into EuroBasket Women. Her play in EuroLeague Women was exceptional in terms of her leadership, because the chips were not exactly falling kindly for Bourges, but she helped them swim against the tide. Dumerc will no doubt love the team she has to lead this time around and will love the challenge posed by being in a difficult group. Still a top class performer, it is likely that whatever the circumstances, a smile will not be too far from the face of the point-guard and a win will never be too far away either, as long as she is still orchestrating the plays.
Sliding Onto The Radar: Chatilla van Grinsven has a superb opportunity to deliver professionally against the promise she has always shown both at youth level and also at college, where she excelled with St Joseph's in Indiana after moving from Colorado State. Having attracted WNBA interest from Connecticut but not nailing down a spot, the forward is primed to launch her club career and it could potentially be an exciting one.
Scanning The Schedule: Group A is the most difficult in the competition with three semi-finalists from last year all pitched together and Bourges have the added headache of a potentially difficult start with Famila Schio at home, prior to successive road trips to UMMC Ekaterinburg and Kayseri Kaski spor. They do however have three of their last four games in Bourges and so may post a strong finish. They will also play Good Angels Kosice, and Uni Gyor.
In Just Ten Words: Still tough as nails defensively, now even deeper and dangerous.