Last season despite a slow start in French league, Bourges triumphed domestically without much questions before being upset in the French Cup final by Arras. In EuroLeague Women quarterfinals Bourges fell to eventual finalists Rivas Ecopolis in a series that went the length – all 3 games.
Back then in that series the main issue for Bourges was not being able to get consistent performances from their perimeter players. Neither Celine Dumerc, nor Cathy Joens, Styliani Kaltsidou and Kiesha Brown had a particularly good series. Of those four only Dumerc is starting the season with the team. Kaltsidou and Joens should be back from injuries in November. Meanwhile they will be replaced by Zoi Dimitrakou and Simona Ballardini. Brown will not be returning to the team, instead they have signed the rapidly rising Swedish talent Frida Eldebrink.
Starting the season against Wisla Can-Pack, Sparta&K and Rivas Ecopolis without two of their top perimeter players will be challenging for Bourges, as will be incorporating them back in the team in November/December. Luckily for Bourges, Celine Dumerc is currently playing the best basketball of her career since her magnificent showing during the Olympics. Judging by her form in 2012, you can argue Frida Eldebrink can be an upgrade over Kiesha Brown while Pauline Krawczyk can eat up some valuable minutes from the bench. Even though temporary signing, Dimitrakou is a wise choice to replace her compatriot Kaltsidou, while I’m on the fence about the Ballardini signing. She was brought in the team very late in preparations and will be there only until the start of November. It’s not a situation in which a player has been put to succeed.
Inside the team has lost some depth they had last year with Jennifer Digbeu, Marielle Amant and Ieva Kublina leaving the team and only Stephany Skrba joining it. That leaves them with 3 high level posts – Miyem, Ndongue and Skrba. In blowouts Christelle Diallo could get some minutes, but it’s unlikely that a 19 year old post will see time on the floor in close, meaningful games in ELW level. One of the fixes for the depth issues could be playing Styliani Kaltsidou at the four which could create some mismatches on the floor, but we’ve yet to see how well she’ll recover from her torn ACL. In the French league they are currently using Zoi Dimitrakou just like that. Outside of depth issues which the changes bring, Skrba, judging by her play for Montpellier in 2011/12, is an improvement over any of the three players who left the team during offseason.
Personnel wise this team could easily be a top 5 or 6 team in Europe, but the major factor will be injuries, especially the ones to their post players where it could hurt the most. Group for Bourges this season is more favorable than last season – Wisla Can-Pack and Sparta&K aren’t Ros Casares and UMMC.