Having signed Diana Taurasi, Tina Charles, Alba Torrens and Epiphanny Prince, Galatasaray entered last season as one of the theoretical favorites. That status was cemented after they received the rights to host the EuroLeague Women Final Eight. When the season started they did look less and less like favorites – barely scraped out wins against Bourges and Prague were followed by Ros Casares coming to Istanbul and humiliating them, holding Galatasaray to 46 points while outscoring them by 30. They tried to right the ship by signing Ticha Penicheiro and Egle Sulciute, but that was in vain mainly because they couldn’t get them some reps during games with the team in Turkish league due to strict foreigner rules. Who knows what could have been if Alba Torrens had not torn her ACL. Without her there was not much support for the big three players. That might have also been by design. In both Final Eight games they lost, players not named Taurasi, Charles or Prince attempted 14 shots combined in each game while the trio had 43 and 50 attempts respectively. Whatever the reason for that might have been – it did not work as evidenced by the team finishing fifth and later losing to Fenerbahce in the Turkish league.
During the offseason Galatasaray apparently decided to go the Ros Casares route and load up on post players. In addition to Sylvia Fowles who was under contract with the team from last season, they have signed Ann Wauters, Nevriye Yilmaz and Sancho Lyttle. Had Fowles not been under the contract, Tina Charles would be a more obvious choice of them both at the center. Ann Wauters is EuroLeague Women All-Time leading scorer, who showed last year that she still has something in her tank by leading Ros Casares to ELW title after giving birth. If you presume that Sylvia Fowles starting is a given then who starts alongside her is up in the air – Wauters, Lyttle and Yilmaz all could be starters on most teams. Choice will be a tad easier after Yilmaz underwent a surgery and will miss the start of the season. With Yilmaz back do not rule out Sancho Lyttle playing some minutes at the three a la Lauren Jackson last season. Bahar Caglar is also more likely to see time at the three when Yilmaz is back.
From outside the team will depend hugely on Lindsay Whalen and Alba Torrens. Whalen right now is the best point guard in the world, but she’s playing injured in the WNBA playoffs with a broken finger and sprained wrist on her non-shooting hand. I will be genuinely surprised if she joins the team right after her WNBA season ends. Alba Torrens according to team is still one to two months away. Only when she returns the questions about her health can be answered. A big part of her game is explosiveness. If her knee is not 100% or she mentally doesn’t trust it will hold up, it will hurt her game in a big way. Not too much loved by the Galatasaray fans, Isil Alben still had the best assist to turnover ratio last season in ELW while being second behind Sancho Lyttle in steals. Sebnem Kimyacioglu and Yasemen Saylar had promising pre-seasons. How that will translate in to regular season remains to be seen. X factor in all of this will be who will the team decide to sign in the coming weeks to replace Torrens at the start of the season.
Even after parting ways with Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles, Galatasaray are a top five team in EuroLeague Women if they are healthy. Which they currently are not. Prague is the best team of their early schedule that could take advantage of a slow start by Galatasaray.