By Paul Nilsen
After their vibrant start to the season, Good Angels Kosice continue to be a beacon of progress in EuroLeague Women, with players such as Helena Sverrisdottir perfectly encapsulating the organic improvement taking place at the Slovakian club.
The versatile small forward is now in her second season, and after producing some efficient and impressive numbers, it's unsurprising she is reveling in becoming an even more integral part of a team on the rise.
"Yes, in the last few games, I've gotten a bigger role on the team than during the first few rounds," confirmed Sverrisdottir.
"I'm just focusing on using these minutes to the best of my ability. I've been shooting it better, so let's just hope that continues!
"As a team we've been playing decent as of late and so hopefully we can build on it, and be playing our best basketball come play-off time!"
What has been particularly noteworthy is that Good Angels have hit the ground running this year, despite making a number of significant changes during the summer.
And, according to the 24-year-old from Iceland, the new arrivals have been great in pushing everyone to get better and have therefore raised the bar just a little higher.
|Helena Sverrisdóttir: Helena Sverrisdóttir: "I think that this season, we also have more dominant personalities and players who are not scared to speak up."|
She said, "I think every team is different and we have a lot of new players and only four players that played last year.
"But, I feel as if we are working hard in practice, and we have many good players that want minutes on the court, which results in competitive practices that are making us better each week.
"I think that this season, we also have more dominant personalities and players who are not scared to speak up."
So far, things have mostly gone to plan. Four wins from six games and two relatively narrow losses on the road in Orenburg and Istanbul, has left them in a three-way tie with Nadezhda and Fenerbahce behind group leaders Famila Schio.
"Yes it's definitely a very even group, mainly between these four teams" agreed Sverrisdottir.
"It seems like all these teams can beat or lose to each other on any given day, so it's always going to be a battle.
"These are the fun games to play - when there's a lot on the line and you know you will have to play a great game to get the win.
"I think the home-game advantage is big for these teams as well, so it's important to not only win at home, but to be able to try and steal a win on the road."
Sverrisdottir and her Good Angels team-mates will be eager to avenge an opening night 70-65 loss at Nadezhda, although she doesn't feel the first match-up gave a true reflection of their talent.
"I think the first game of the EuroLeague Women season is always tough.
"Our team was still coming together, and it took us a while to get going. Overall, I don't think we played well in that game, so, we're excited to get another chance at it.
"We're improving every game and we're ready for this second part of the group play to start!"
Meanwhile it's been an up and down time of late for Nadezhda who have done well to hold things together after head coach Aleksander Kovalev was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in his leg and barred from duties and especially travelling with the team.
|Plenette Pierson of Good Angels Kosice has been experiencing a good vein of form of late|
Form Guide: The Group B rivals are locked with 4-2 records. Notably, the hosts are yet to lose on home soil having beaten UE Sopron, Schio and Municipal Targoviste. Their only road success came at Arras. Domestically, they are unbeaten and on course for their usual titles. Nadezhda have won all of their home games in EuroLeague Women, and picked up their first road success at Arras last week, having previously been shot down at both Schio and Targoviste. In the Russian League Nadezhda had only lost once prior to last weekend, when they were crushed by 20 points at Dynamo Moscow.
The Hot Hands: Plenette Pierson has been on fire during the last three games, amassing 68 points at an excellent field goal rate of 61.5%. DeWanna Bonner is averaging a season double-double for Nadezhda of 17.8 points and 11.7 rebounds and is the second best rebounder in the tournament. Meanwhile Renee Montgomery is averaging 15.8 points and 4.6 assists per game in the visitors' backcourt.
‘X Factors': Defence if you are of a Nadezhda persuasion, since Good Angels Kosice are the most prolific scorers in the competition with 81.2 points per-game, and that is almost 10 points more than the visitors. The problem for any opponent of the Slovakians is that they share the scoring load so well, and don't rely overly heavily on one or two players. That is borne out by the fact they average more assists than anyone other than Ekat. Throw in the fact that they take more steals than any other team, and the visitors will know they need to deal with the ball pressure and make smart decisions. Nadezhda doesn't have a lot of depth right now, and even ran a seven player rotation last week, so it will be interesting to see how they cope with a run-and-gun style if the hosts choose this approach.