|11 October 2012|
|Sharnee Zoll led CCC Polkowice in assists and steals during their first ever Euroleague Women campaign but will miss the start of the new season because of injury |
By Paul Nilsen
After a pleasantly productive debut season in the EuroLeague Women which culminated in a play-off spot, a repeat for CCC Polkowice looks a distinct possibility after some super summer acquisitions.
The club has given their prospects of emerging from the first phase of the competition a huge boost with arguably the most exciting signing of the off-season, by handing a EuroLeague Women debut to the stellar talented Nnemkadi Ogwumike.
Fans who don't follow the game in the USA, in terms of the WNBA or College game, may not yet be familiar with her explosive frontcourt game, but suffice to say, the EuroLeague Women potentially has a major new star of the future stepping onto the floor for the first time this year.
Ogwumike has got a fantastic all-round game and frighteningly, she can still get a whole lot better due to the fact she is still relatively young and will mature with the experience of life in the EuroLeague Women.
I expect she can have the same level of impact as players who have hit the ground running in previous seasons, such as Tina Charles for example.
Signing Ogwumike should fill CCC Polkowice fans with huge levels of anticipation and excitement although she is only narrowly the best signing they have made!
Clinching deals with veteran EuroLeague Women champions Laia Palau and Belinda Snell also strikes me as some of the best pieces of business any club has done this summer.
Despite the demise of Ros Casares and knowing their players would be picked up somewhere, I didn't expect Polkowice to be the destination for Palau but it actually looks a great fit on paper.
You could barely find a more experienced and productive backcourt player who can get it done at both ends of the floor, but especially defensively.
As for Snell, she won the EuroLeague Women title with Perfumerias Avenida two years ago before returning home to Australia for a year, which meant she didn't play in the competition last season.
For those fans of do-it-all, hard-nosed team players who have played at the elite level for both club and country, the return of Snell is a welcome sight and she will be a great addition both on and off the court.
Forget the stats with Snell, just gorge yourself on the game tapes which highlight her taking care of the intangibles any successful team needs.
|Power forward Magdalena Leciejewska, who's joined Polkowice from Polish rivals Wisla Can-Pack, hopes to make another apperance at the Final Eight with her new team |
In addition to this headline trio of new faces, there has actually been a wide influx of new players with several more nice pick-ups.
Slovak shooter Ivana Jalcova comes to the club via Schio having previously played in the Euroleague Women with another Polish team, Lotos Gdynia.
Ukrainian pivot Valeriya Berezhynska will be a threat in the paint having averaged an impressive 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game two seasons ago with USO Mondeville.
She is also a great free throw shooter so opposing teams will have to be wary of putting her on the line.
THE POLISH CORE
Magdalena Leciejewska is another addition to the frontcourt having made the switch from Wisla Can-Pack where she played last year, including the EuroLeague Women Final Eight in Istanbul.
Now the forward is determined to repeat that feat with her new team.
"I was so happy that I could be there since it was really a great feeling, to be at a tournament with the top eight teams in Europe," said Leciejewska.
"The organization of the tournament was excellent and now, I am hoping that myself and my new team-mates will be to play at the next Final Eight!"
She also admitted playing in the tournament is a relatively fresh phenomenon for CCC Polkowice who don't have the same tradition in the EuroLeague Women as other Polish clubs such as Wisla or Gdynia, which means they are still perhaps more focused on domestic success.
She explained: "It's difficult to compare these three teams. Lotos and Wisla have been playing in the EuroLeague Women for a few years but for CCC Polkowice it is still something new. Therefore our main goal is primarily to win the Polish Championship.
|The captain of EuroLeague Women 2012 champions Ros Casares, veteran point guard Laia Palau, brings her talents to Poland and Polkowice |
"However, it's great that we can also play in the EuroLeague Women and we will do everything to show our best side and win in this competition.
"We have a difficult group, but we want to do everything to get out of it and advance to the next round - this is our minimum.
"We have a lot of great and experienced players but also many young players too and I think we can be a really interesting team this year."
The new recruits give CCC Polkowice a quite wonderful look and this is a real tonic because of the frustrating and sad situation with fan favourite Sharnee Zoll, who is going to be ruled out for the majority of the season due to serious injury.
Also returning to the team from last year's line-up are Valeriya Musina and Agnieszka Majewska.
There will surely be an uplift in performance from Musina who didn't have her greatest season last year and is a better player than the shooting percentages she recorded show, although she did do a nice job on the boards.
Majewska meanwhile is a rock-solid option under the basket, mainly coming off the bench.
Look out for some younger players potentially grabbing a few minutes this season including Agata Szczepanik, Karolina Puss, Dorota Mistygacz and especially 1994-born Dominika Owczarzak, who looks a terrific prospect.
CCC Polkowice will find it very hard to finish higher than the heavyweights of UMMC Ekaterinburg and Galatasaray, so they must ensure they compete with ZVVZ USK Prague and Perfumerias Avenida for third spot in Group C.
With this in mind, the draw hasn't exactly been kind to them since Prague will be favourites for third place.
But, they gave a great showing last year and you just can't rule this team out of posting another really good campaign.