|05 November 2013|
| "We have had a pretty good team chemistry so far" - Bourges Basket shooting guard Johannah Leedham |
Great Britain star Johannah Leedham is back with Tango Bourges and has identified defence as once again being the key to success for the French champions.
The shooting guard was brought in as a mid-season replacement last year for the injured Frida Eldebrink and has never looked back after playing a pivotal role in helping Valerie Garnier and her injury-hit team reach the EuroLeague Women Final Eight podium.
Having impressively replenished their roster with the likes of French national team forward Diandra Tchatchouang, Aussie center Marianna Tolo, Dutch forward Chatilla Van Grinsven, the free-scoring Cathy Joens and experienced Paoline Salagnac, a repeat of their third place finish is not out of the question.
"I think we need to continue the strong defence that we had last season and we have to be really consistent with that," insisted Leedham.
"If we learned anything from last season, it was that we could handle adversity and so this season, with a stronger and healthier squad, I think we can pay good attention to these details.
"Having the new people in the team has been great since they have great personalities and are awesome teammates.
She added, "I think they have settled in well and have gelled great with the rest of us and with that, we have had a pretty good team chemistry so far."
Bourges entertain Beretta Famila Schio on Wednesday in a curtain-raiser for the new campaign and the British guard is expecting a tricky match-up against the Italians.
They are now coached by ex-Rivas Ecopolis play-caller Miguel Mendez, who took his former club all the way to the Final in 2012.
However, Mendez will be short-handed since the club decided to release summer signing Amber Harris at the start of the week.
Without the center, the visitors will have to really hit some shots to break down a Bourges team which is keen to continue its' long-standing reputation of being one of the defensive kingpins in the competition.
"Schio is always a great opponent with a lot of weapons and so obviously we have to be ready to play them," acknowledged Leedham.
"I think they are a tough team and with all the national team players they have coming off a good summer, I am sure they are playing with confidence.
"As usual we will be focusing on our defence and trying to really come together as a defensive unit to make it tough for our opposition.
"I think at this point the details are for us to focus on ourselves and execute and to make sure we all get the small things done."
Form Guide: Something has to give heading into this opening EuroLeague Women opener since both clubs are unbeaten domestically and are a combined 10-0 for the season.
The Hot Hands: Schio have had good productivity from their veteran duo Laura Macchi and Raffaella Masciadri so far this season and in their latest game, center Elodie Godin came up with 21 points. Bourges have shared the burden so far with nobody standing out, something which only highlights the depth and options the French side now have.
‘X Factors' & Match Ups: Schio are potentially short in the paint without Harris and will not get many second chance points against Bourges so must be patient offensively and at the top of their game in terms of shot selection. Whilst probably having to play second fiddle on the glass, the visitors do have experience and scoring power on the wings and if shooting guard Jolene Anderson gets going early, she can be difficult to stop. However, Bourges will probably try to shut out Schio defensively and after smothering them, wear them down with rotations and their physicality.