Aside from the Top Twelve list below, I'll clue you in on some of the interesting stories going on in European basketball. I still don't know if I want to do mini-writeups of each game, since all I have to go by are box scores. Let me know how you think things can be improved in the comments section, I might change the presentation next week.
The first story comes from the Polish league, where according to Przemysław Wyrwa at lovewomensbasketball.com, ROW Rybnik is on financially shaky ground. From what I can understand through (badly) translated Polish news articles, ROW Rybnik was partially financed by a government grant and there is some kind of dispute about how the money is being spent, with the government threatening to withhold the next payment.
ROW Rybnik managed to play on Saturday against Widzew but they couldn't pay anybody; all the players played for free. Mercedes Walker and Leah Metcalf did not play - probably due to payment issues. Aleksandra Chomac is said to have played her last game with the club.
Even so, fans were worried that this was the last match of the season. There were tears in the eyes of the fans, with some fans holding up "GOODBYE" banners. If there's a big story in women's basketball in Poland - or in European women's basketball - this is probably it.
Story two concerns Edremit, a Turkish club. They had been promoted to the top league in Turkey which expanded from 12 teams to 14.
They signed Constance Jinks and Marina Cress, then dumped those players, then picked up Amisha Carter and Marina Solopova, and supposedly those players sat out Turkish Cup games because of non-payment. Clearly, there are some financial issues there. Carter and Solopova, however, did play the domestic league opener so those issues might have been resolved.
The last story concerns Israeli basketball, which doesn't begin its domestic league season until November 5th. Elizur Netanya was scheduled to play a home tournanment on October 20th-21st but Elizur Ramla wanted the game dates changed. They were going to Turkey to pay a Eurocup game on October 24th, and, well, Eurocup is just more important. With no Ramla and with most foreign players not in Israel yet, the tournament was cancelled.
Lior Klinger interviewed Plenette Pierson, who played in the Israeli league last year, a very interesting interview where she assessed the Israeli League, having played in it as far back as 2007. It's a long interview, full of insight, and worth reading if you have 15 minutes to spare:
"I definitely think it's one of the weaker leagues", she began and continued to explain. "I think back to 2007 and even to my first year here, and a lot of the Israeli players that were playing then are no longer playing. It's amazing to see how many good players aren’t playing anymore. The young players now want to go to the college in the States which is a great thing for them, it broadens their horizons but it's almost like the league is deteriorating."
I have the league ranked as 11th in Europe - just below Hungary and just above Latvia. Israel has no team in Euroleague and only one team - Elitzur Ramla - in Eurocup.
Dynamo Kursk in, Good Angels out
Despite winning their two domestic league games by a combined score of 241-90, the Slovak team Good Angels falls out of the Top Twelve and Dynamo Moscow enters the bottom table. Why? Because the quality of play is a lot higher in Russia than it is in Slovakia, and Dynamo Kursk's 90-57 win over Dynamo Moscow is a pretty impressive margin of victory on its own.
Dynamo Kursk has a few names you might have heard of - Shay Murphy, Erin Lawless and Michelle Snow. Epiphhany Prince is supposed to be with Dynamo Kursk but hasn't shown up yet, and Snow hasn't played in either of the two domestic league games.
(* * *)
1. Spartak Vidnoe Moscow (RUS): 2-0 D
Beat Energy Ivanavo (RUS) 76-44 on the road in season opener in a rout where they led 44-17 at halftime and both sides made good use of their benches. Isabelle Yacoubou had 16 points in just 11 minutes of play, and the only American player on Spartak VM now - Candice Dupree - scored four points and three rebounds in 12 minutes.
At their home opener they beat Spartak Noginsk (RUS) 86-39, an example of an all-Russian team losing to a team with a lot of foreigners. Five players had double figures for Spartak Moscow, including Yacoubou with 19, Sonja Petrovic with 15, Candice Dupree with 13 and Becky Hammon with 11.
Next: Oct 24 vs. Tarsus (TUR) in Euroleague
2. UMMC (RUS): 1-0 D
Beat Rostov (RUS) 73-45 on the road in their season opener, and Ekaterinburg once again went to the bench early, leading 35-25 at halftime, and then 56-38 after three quarters. Sandrine Gruda had 23 points in 26 minutes for the winners (shooting 10-for-16) and Quantria Hollingsworth had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Next: Oct 22 vs. Energy Ivanavo (RUS)
3. Fenerbahce (TUR): 1-0 D
Beat rival Galatasaray (TUR) 62-45 in the President's Cup. It was a slow starting game with Fener picking up speed as they moved forward. Gala didn't have Sancho Lyttle and Sylvia Fowles played limited minutes, whereas Fener was virtually at full strength. Angel McCoughtry scored 13 points and 11 minutes for the winners, with Cappie Pondexter adding 11 points and Anasatsia Verameyenka scoring 10 points, 12 points and 4 blocks. An injured Sylvia Fowles scored 11 points for Gala and Ann Wauters had eight points in the loss.
Beat Canik Belediye (TUR) 80-59 in their domestic opener. Lovewomensbasketball.com calls games like this "games without a history" where one of the teams wins every quarter. Angel McCoughtry led all scorers with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting and had sven rebounds. Cheryl Ford led Canik Belediye with 22 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Nihan Anaz with 11 and Doneeka Hodgues with nine points and seven rebounds.
Next: Oct 27 vs. Mersin (TUR)
4. Perfumerias (ESP): 0-1 D
Lost to Rivas Ecopolis (ESP) 74-72 in a clash of Spanish titans. Visiting team Rivas took control of the first half leading 38-30 at halftime and 61-51 after 30 minutes. Perfumierias mounted a comeback on its home court and came close to a win, down 72-74 with the ball and just five seconds to go. But with Nicole Powell inbounding the ball, she couldn't decipher Rivas's defensive pressure and was forced into a bad inbounds pass.
Roneeka Hodges led Perfumerias with 17 points and Nicole Powell chipped in 14 in the losing cause. Anna Cruz led Rivas with 22 points. Aneika Henry scored nine points and eight rebounds for the winners.
Next: Oct 24 at USK Praha (CZE) in Euroleague
5. Wisla Can-Pack (POL): 5-0 D
Defeated ROW Rybnik (POL) 69-44 on Oct 17 and beat Gyndia (POL) 73-67 on Oct 20. Tina Charles won't be at Wisla until the end of the WNBA owners meeting and Katie Douglas might not come for a long time due to injuries. But Wisla is holding out with domestic players for now. Lorin Dixon of Connecticut scored eight points for Gydnia in the loss.
Next: Oct 24 at #7 Bourges (FRA) in Euroleague, Oct 27 vs. Wizdew (POL)
6. Athinaikos (GRE): 3-0 D
Beat PAOK (GRE) 85-51. The Greek league is working on bubblegum and bailing wire - and we'll keep Athinakios as a high ranked team until they lose - but Greece is a solid example of a "top-heavy" domestic league - one or two good teams and a bunch of scrubs under them. "Cayla DESTROSH" doesn't sound Greek, but whoever she was, she scored 13 points for very little money in a losing effort for PAOK.
Next: Oct 27 at GAC Eunikos (GRE)
7. Bourges (FRA): 4-1 D (#9 last week)
Beat Tolouse (FRA) 67-50. Toulouse was never really in it. Celine Dumerc lead Bourges with 15 points and four assists. Demetress Adams (South Carolina) scored 12 points and 5 rebounds and Carrem Gay (Duke) added 8 points and 8 rebounds for 2-3 Toulouse.
Simona Ballardini, a post player Bourges was really depending on, had to leave the team due to injury. She was scheduled to replace Catherine Joens, who is also out with an injury, leaving Bourges a little short-handed going into Euroleague this week.
Next: Oct 24 vs. #5 Wisla Can-Pack (POL) in Euroleague, Oct 27 at Lyon (FRA)
8. Galatasaray (TUR): 1-0 D (#7 last week)
Lost to Fenerbahce (TUR) 62-45 in the President's Cup (see above writeup).
Beat Ceyhan Bld (TUR) 66-51. Sancho Lyttle made her first appearance for Gala this year, scoring 5 points but turning the ball over three times in 15 minutes. Sylvia Fowles played 17 minutes but scored the same number of points; Ann Wauters led with 17 points for Gala. For Ceyhan, Carolyn Swords led with 12 points. Kayla Pederson threw in four points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of play for the losing home team.
Next: Oct 24 at Novi Zagreb (CRO) in Euroleague, Oct 27 at Samsun (TUR)
9. Rivas Ecopolis (ESP): 2-0 D (#12 last week)
Beat Perfumerias (ESP) 74-72 on the road (see above writeup).
Next: Oct 27 vs. Uni Girona (ESP)
10. Familia Schio (ITA): 1-0 D (#11 last week)
Beat Lucca (ITA) 52-46. Schio was down 33-32 at halftime and after both teams combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter, Schio managed to take the fourth. Adrienne Johnson led with 11 points and Marie RUzickova added 11 points and 14 rebounds for Familia Schio; Giorgia Sottana scored 17 for the losers.
Next: Oct 24 at Targoviste (ROM) in Euroleague, Oct 28 at Parma (ITA)
11. Taranto (ITA): 1-1 D (#7 last week)
Beat Faenza (ITA) 72-58. Taranto led 48-22 at halftime and then coasted the rest of the way. Gintare Petronyte scored 20 points and 10 rebounds for Taranto, and Megan Mahoney added 10 points. Kathrin Ress led Faenza with 11 points.
Lost to Umbertide (ITA) 66-56. Umbertide led by four at the break and hung on for the win. D'Andra Moss (VCU) led all players with 17 points and Courtney Willis (East Carolina) had 11 points and 15 rebounds. For Taranto, Antibe Nicole led with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Liron Cohen added 15 points on 3-for-6 3-point shooting.
Next: Oct 28 vs. Orvieto (ITA)
12. Dynamo Kursk (RUS): 2-0 D (new)
Beat Spartak Noginsk (RUS) 58-45 in domestic opener. Spartak Noginsk led 31-29 at halftime, but were outscored 29-17 in the second half. Ekaterina Lisina led with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Temeka Johnson added 10 points - but she shot 4-for-21 in the game. Noginsk is all-Russian and Marina Ivanova led with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Beat Dynamo Moscow (RUS) 90-57. Aside from Laura Harper (Maryland) who scored 14 points for the visitors, Dynamo Moscow doesn't have any other Americans. For Kursk their native players - Svetlana Makhlina, Ekaterina Lisina and Natalia Vodopiyanova - scored 18, 15 and 14 points respectively. Shay Murphy added 12 points, Temeka Johnson had nine and Erin Lawless had six, all coming off the bench.
Next: Oct 25 vs. Botas (TUR) in Eurocup
Fell out: Good Angels (SLV)
Bonus: The entire Perfumerias-Rivas Ecopolis game. Powell's bad in-bounds pass is at around 1:38:30.