Fenerbahce were perfect last season through the first 16 games, but then Penny Taylor’s knee gave out and they lost their final two games of the season. It’s unlikely that they would have defeated Ros Casares, but a place in the final would have been more reflective of their campaign last season. Domestically they could fall back on Cappie Pondexter who averaged 21 points per game during Turkish league playoffs with Taylor unavailable, helping the team defeat Galatasaray for yet another Turkish league championship.
Duo of McCoughtry and Pondexter worked together very well at the end of last season in Turkey with both of them averaging 20+ points per game over the final two series of playoffs. Both of them are the world’s best one on one offensive players, so good luck trying to guard them, everyone else. Common sense dictates that this team will try to attack in transition as much as possible to use those two fantastic weapons and there are not many better suited players to get the ball to the team’s go-to players than Birsel Vardarli. Vardarli last season posted a magnificent assist to turnover ratio over 3. Add to that her being the best 3 point shooter last season and you have got a hell of an option at point guard. Speaking of three point shooting there has been an addition of a 40+ percent ELW career shooter Agnieszka Bibrzycka that needs to be mentioned. “Biba” has skills comparable to those of Penny Taylor, although they are understandably inferior to Taylor’s. Taylor was after all a top 10 player in the world before going down with the torn ACL. Bibrzycka is the better three point shooter of them both and she’s the best European player with such skill set. With Biba there is a question about her shape. During the last half of the last season, Bibrzycka did not look like the Biba of old – she was rusty and a step slower than usual. Not being in shape was likely a factor in her spraining her ankle during the Polish league finals, which took her out from playing for Polish NT this summer.
With all of the boost outside there is a significant loss inside – Nevriye Yilmaz. Toughest thing to replace with her departure will be her passing and taking care of the ball ability which not many post players possesses. Over the past two seasons she has had 75 assists and 45 turnovers. Yasemin Horasan does not offer such ability. Horasan can have comparable impact on the boards, but her finishing ability is not on the same level. Facing the same competition in Turkey Horasan has consistently shot about 10% worse from the field than Yilmaz. The Tamane for Verameyenka swap is interesting. Verameyenka brings added versatility as well as shot blocking to Fenerbahce, while Tamane in general is a better finisher. Looking back at last season using true shooting percentage Tamane was the third leading player in EuroLeague Women with 65,9% shooting, while Verameyenka was 41st with 56.7%. This could be one of those cases where you underrate what you have and overrate what someone else has.
Overall this is easily a top three team that, barring any major injuries, will be up there with the UMMC’s of the world at the end of the season.