A gaffe in the first game of the previous season cost Nadezhda a likely place in the Final Eight. Loss against Famila Schio on the opening round ended up pitting Orenburg against Sparta&K without the homecourt advantage. Homecourt proved to be essential in that series as all three games were won by home teams by a double digit margin.
Having finished last season twelfth in scoring, Orenburg opted to improve in that category by signing two instant offense bringing players in DeWanna Bonner and Renee Montgomery. Both will be looking for the basket first and foremost. Montgomery is the most likely one to dish on some drives, while Bonner will go for the score on 96% cases. To balance that out they have brought Russian passport owning Kelly Miller who knows her limitations and will provide a much steadier presence on the floor if Montgomery gets away form the gameplan too far. Miller will essentialy take on the role of Ekaterina Ruzanova, who was the team’s steady point guard before leaving for Sparta&K.
Montgomery’s added scoring will have to offset the loss of Rebbekah Brunson who Iva Perovanovic can’t replace. With the team’s offensive focus gone from a inside-outside duo and having switched to a pair of outside primary scorers, Perovanovic should be very handy as a secondary option. As was discussed in the Fenerbahce preview – there’s nothing separating Zane Tamane and Anastasia Verameyenka. If anything Tamane has been the better shooter and rebounder of the two over their EuroLeague Women careers. 21 year old center Alexandara Tarasova has had a very strong pre-season with Orenburg so you can look for her to get minutes in ELW.
Unlike “PG’s” discussed in previous previews, Elena Danilochkina has been actually used well at the off-guard position where she’s been shooting over 40% from the floor. Despite her being a PG on Russian NT, she’s been sub-average in that element in ELW with a A/TO ratio under 1. With Ludmila Sapova and Natalia Zhedik, Nadezhda might have the best back-up wing players in the ELW (outside of UMMC). Whether they will be a factor on this team that’s stacked on the wings is a different issue which depends solely on head coach.
Nadezhda’s group this season is easy enough for them to finally reach their first Final Eight. This really is shaping up to be a year where all 3 Russian teams can finish high in the postseason.