Diana Taurasi Captures EuroLeague Player of the Week Honors
November 5, 2010
The 2010-11 EuroLeague began a week ago and from now until the final game when this year’s champion is crowned, USA Basketball will recap each week’s games.
Before we rundown who is doing what, we thought we should explain a big difference you’ll notice with this year’s rosters. A new rule was put into place regarding a player’s status as a European or non-European and that caused several players to transfer teams in the off-season. Seemingly meant to keep teams like Spartak Moscow Region – Vidnoje from stacking its roster with non-Euros holding European passports (only two non-Euro players are allowed on each EuroLeague roster), the new rule really only penalizes those players who have competed for their national teams.
To paraphrase the rule, if a player has competed for a specific country’s national team in FIBA competition, she may no longer compete under a different passport. Thus, the USA’s Diana Taurasi for instance may no longer compete under her Italian passport. And Australia’s Penny Taylor may no longer be considered British for the sake of her EuroLeague team’s roster. However, it does nothing to stop other players who have not attained national team status from competing under a different passport, which is why athletes like Deanna Nolan, who holds a Russian passport and who has not played for USA Basketball in a major international competition, doesn’t count against UMMC Ekaterinburg’s two non-Euros on its roster.
Player of the Week
Diana Taurasi, who led all EuroLeague scoreres from start to finish last season, scored 34 points this week in leading her team to a 109-92 victory over Gospic Croatia. In addition to hitting 3-of-5 from 3-point land and a perfect 5-of-5 from the line, Taurasi grabbed five rebounds, dished out seven assists and had three steals.
On the Court: A Quick Primer on the First Two Weeks
The biggest news in the opening week was the defeat of four-time defending EuroLeague Spartak Moscow Region – Vidnoje. After not losing a game in EuroLeague play last year, their streak was broken in the first game by VICI-Aistes, 81-79. Not to fret, however, as Spartak got back on track this week with a 66-40 thumping of Turkish Galatasaray.
Cras Basket Taranto, which features for U.S. born players, two of whom are competing as Italians, finished at an even 6-6 mark last year, but has started the season off with a 2-0 slate. The middle of Group A includes PÉCS 2010, Good Angels Kosice, USO Mondville and Wisla Can-Pack Krakow, all of which are at 1-1 in the standings. TTT Riga, which finished 2-8 last season, is not off to a very good start with a 0-2 record.
Three teams, MKB Euroleasing Sopron, UMMC Ekaterinburg and Fenerbache S.K., have all opened with 2-0 marks; while Gospic Croatia Osiguranje, LOTOS Gdynia and Rivas Ecopolis are still looking for their first win.
Halcon Avenida Salamanca, which finished second in 2009 and posted a 10-5 mark last season, started off with a 2-0 record to sit atop Group C. The team is stacked with players like the Atlanta Dream’s Erika DeSouza and Sancho Lyttle, Australia’s Belinda Snell and about half of the Spanish squad that collected the bronze medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. In the middle of the pack with 1-1 records are Spartak, Tarbes Gespe Bigorre, Galatasaray Medical Park and Vici Aistes Kaunas; while ZVVZ USK Prague, featuring USA Basketball gold medalists DeLisha Milton-Jones and Lindsay Whalen, is still looking for its first win after two close losses by a combined five points.
Second place finishers in the EuroLeague last season, Ros Casares Valencia, along with Beretta Famila Schio, have each collected a pair of wins to start the season. Meanwhile, Bourges Basket and Frisco Sika Brno are at 1-1, while Nadezhda, with USA National Team member Tina Charles on its roster, and KSSSE AZS-PWSZ Gorzow are still winless.
Who’s Playing Where?
Out of the 12 members of the 2010 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team, seven are currently competing overseas. Jayne Appel is spending time in the Bay Area and plans on heading to Europe in January, Sue Bird is taking some time off before heading back to Spartak Moscow Region, Swin Cash is also not heading to Europe anytime soon, and Asjha Jones has opted to take this season off … for now, and Maya Moore is obviously still in college for another season.
- Tamika Catchings is playing in Istanbul, Turkey, for Galatasaray and has so far averaged 11.0 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 3.5 apg. and 1.0 spg. in Gala’s first two games. She’s playing in Istanbul with the Atlanta Dream’s Yelena Leuchanka of Belarus, and the San Antonio Silver Star’s Sophia Young.
- Tina Charles, competing for Nadezhda, which finished second last year in the EuroCup, is averaging 18.5 ppg. and 10.5 rpg. in two games playing alongside USA National Team member Shameka Christon.
- Candice Dupree has returned to play for Slovakia’s Good Angels Kosice, a team she helped last year advance to the playoffs and collect the team’s first playoff victory in EuroLeague history. She’s averaging 14.0 ppg. and 11.0 rpg. and counts Americans Charde Houston and Erin Lawless among her teammates.
- Sylvia Fowles, who won the past two EuroLeague titles with Spartak, has taken her talents to Galatasaray Medical Park in Turkey. Over two games, Fowles is averaging a double-double of 12.0 ppg. and 10.5 rpg, while swatting 1.5 bpg. Listed among her teammates is 2010 USA World Championship Team finalist and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Seimone Augustus, and former LSU standout Doneeka Hodges, who holds a Bulgarian passport.
- Angel McCoughtry, who played with Dupree in Slovakia last year, has moved to MKB Euroleasing Sopron in Hungary. In averaging 17.5 ppg., 6.0 rpg., 2.0 apg. and 3.0 spg, McCoughtry, who plays alongside Tulsa Shock’s Amber Holt, has helped lead her squad to a 2-0 start.
- Diana Taurasi helped lead Spartak Moscow Region to four straight EuroLeague titles before the new rules regarding player passports took effect. So now she and her former Spartak coach Laszlo Ratgeber, along with Phoenix Mercury teammate Penny Taylor are hoping to bring a championship to Turkey for Fenerbache S.K. Scoring 34 points in her second outing, Taurasi is averaging a league-high 29.0 ppg., to go with 5.5 rpg., 4.5 apg. and 1.5 spg. Last season she led the league in scoring from the first game through the championship. While she wasn't tops on the list after this year's first game, Taurasi will be looking to defend that scoring title.
- Lindsay Whalen returned this year to ZVVZ USK Prague, a team with which she competed the past three seasons, and is averaging 10.5 ppg., 4.5 rpg. and 4.5 apg., while competing alongside two-time Olympic and two-time FIBA World Championship gold medalist DeLisha Milton-Jones.
In addition to the 2010 USA World Championship Team members, several members of the 2009-12 USA Natioanl Team pool are competing overseas this season. As mentioned above, in the EuroLeague Seimone Augustus is competing with Sylvia Fowles in Istanbul, Rebekkah Brunson plays for Ros Casares Valencia, Shameka Christon is suiting up for Nadezhda with Tina Charles, Cappie Pondexter returned to UMMC Ekaterinburg; while Lindsey Harding is playing for Dynamo Kursk, which competes in the EuroCup.
That’s it for now. As the weeks roll along, we’ll have more in-depth information on all the important games (read: at the very least, all games with a USA National Team member playing), updated standings, previews, and everything you’ll need to follow your favorite players in their quest for this year’s championship.