This season features an increased amount of participants – the league has gone from 12 teams to 14 teams. Despite that the maximum number of foreigners in the league will decrease from 60 to 56 (not counting foreigners with Turkish passport). The foreigner quota has been reduced from 5 whatever nationality players to 2 non-European and x amount of Europeans that sums up to 4 total foreigners.
(thanks to the commenter for correction)
You don’t need a crystal ball to predict that the championship will once again be decided between Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.
Fenerbahce has kept their two American superstars in Cappie Pondexter and Angel McCoughtry. Both of them averaged over 20 points per game in playoffs last season. Joining them will be Belorussian center Anastasiya Verameyenka and Polish wing Agnieszka Bibrzycka. The team lost Nevriye Yilmaz to Galatasaray during the offseason. Yasemin Horasan was signed in place of her. Fenerbahce’s post players will not be able to match up against Galatasaray ones particularly well, but you can say the same about Galatasaray’s guards/wings not being on the same level with Fenerbahce perimeter headlined by McCoughtry, Pondexter, Vardarli and Bibrzycka.
Galatasaray will start the season decimated by injuries and late arrivals. Sancho Lyttle joined the team just a day before their first game, Sylvia Fowles is with the team rehabbing her calf injury, Lindsay Whalen is playing injured in the WNBA finals, Nevriye Yilmaz and Alba Torrens are sidelined until November the earliest or maybe even December. Hopefully by December 26 derby against Fenerbahce everyone will be healthy so we can see an interesting battle. Until Alba Torrens returns to playing form, Lyttle and Wauters will use the European quotas. Considering the team also has Fowles and Yilmaz it would be wise to add Torrens to the roster in place of Lyttle or Wauters once she’s ready.
Next tier of teams is a bit more fuzzy with more room for surprises and upsets, but should consist of Kayseri KASKI, Tarsus and Istanbul Universitesi.
Kayseri KASKI have opted for EuroLeague Women Final Eight MVP Asjha Jones, Nicky Anosike, Evanthia Maltsi and Nuria Martinez, while keeping LaToya Sanders, who has Turkish passport, and Pinar Demirok who was the third leading Turkish born player on the team. Unfortunately the top two – Dila Askin and Gizem Yavuz – have departed.
Tarsus, similarly as Galatasaray, will have to think about which Europeans to play in the Turkish league as they have three of them – Spaniard Cindy Lima and Amaya Valdemoro as well as Latvian Liene Jansone. Based on the timing of signings it would seem as if Jansone will play only in EuroLeague Women. We’ll find that out by Sunday. Also making their Turkish league debuts will be veteran forward DeLisha Milton-Jones and point guard Danielle Robinson. Michelle Campbell (Melisa Can) will strengthen the team with her Turkish passport. Deniz Boz and Dila Askin are also some nice Turkish player signings for Tarsus.
Istanbul Universitesi might have had the best summer in terms of locking up local talent by signing Tugba Palazoglu, Nilay Kartaltepe, both Turkish NT members, as well as Nazli Guler. Joining Palazoglu and Kartaltepe on the perimeter will be American Essence Carson. Having good local perimeter players has allowed Istanbul Universitesi to sign three foreign post players – Jessica Davenport, Irina Osipova and Anna Montanana. Istanbul Universitesi could be one of the most dangerous teams in TKBL – they’re the best assembled team that will not be participating in international competitions which will mean they will be fresher than their opponents who will have to do some mid-week traveling over the Europe every other week.
Further down the list success for most of the teams will depend on a couple of foreigners. Contrary to some stuff being written – local players that aren’t on the NT aren’t particularly good compared to, say, the average French, Spanish or Russian player. Over the past couple of years their level has risen but it still has ways to go.
Botas have brought back their double-double machine Courtney Paris as well as “Armenian” guard Quianna Chaney. Combined with Katarina Ristic and Christi Thomas, this is one of the weakest foreigner rotations that does not have any notable local players unless you count Cori Enghusen as a Turkish, which she technically is, and as a notable player, which is not.
Homend Antakya may have made one of the best European player signings in the league by inking Jana Vesela. She has been on fire in pre-season games and Turkish Cup. She will be joined by shooter Jolene Anderson – infamously known for attempting 18 3p field goals in a single ELW game, Dubravka Dacic and rookie Shekinna Stricklen, who no one knows how well will adjust to basketball in Turkey.
Ceyhan retained their top two local players Ceyda Kozluca and Huyla Ozkan, but overhauled the foreigner ranks. From Kosice Kayla Pedersen joins the team and from Istanbul Universitesi – Carolyn Swords. Swords has been a vastly underrated center. Her averaging a double-double should not come as a surprise. Euro guards Jelena Ivezic and Kristine Karklina are vastly inconsistent.
Shavonte Zellous and Erlana Larkins, Mersin’s top two players from last season have re-upped with the team. Both will be joined by European posts Oksana Zakaluzhnaya, Chantelle Handy and American/Turkish forward Barbara Turner. A slow start by Mersin, due to Zellous and Larkins pre-occupied with WNBA finals, might cost them a high spot at the end.
With Jeanette Pohlen having sustained what appears a serious knee injury, TED Ankara are to be down to two foreign players – Makbule Amachree and Ana Dabovic. Until reinforcements arrive, it will be tough for them to remain competitive.
Samsun this season has opted for Megan Frazee, who currently is injured, to lead the team alongside Chante Black, who’s a good in China, but that’s pretty much it, and Anna Vajda and Andja Jelavic. Curiously of the both Europeans it’s Vajda who’s been the more effective in pre-season play. Following her play with Fenerbahce and Perfumerias Avenida, that has been an interesting surprise.
Besiktas, not with deep pockets like last season, has opted to start the season with 2 foreign players – Jessica Breland and Maurita Reid. Not exactly a killer duo, but than the team’s objectives, not to be relegated, aren’t that high, either.
Finally the newcomers. Canik has inked former Famila Schio frontcourt of Cheryl Ford and Janel McCarville. If Ford can and likely will have an impact in the league similar to that of Courtney Paris, then McCarville is a bigger enigma, as her play appears to be hugely dependent on situation she is within a team. Signing of Turkish wing Gulsah Akkaya will trump that of the least talented Hodges twin sister, Doneeka who is playing with a Bulgarian passport. Tanja Cirov has been an able scorer in Italian league which overall is one of the lowest scoring ones in Europe so there’s no doubt she will excel in Turkish league.
Edremit appear to be in financial troubles even before the season has started. For starters they dumped Constance Jinks and Marina Kress months after signing them, before the season even started, instead signing Amisha Carter and Marina Solopova. Now reports have surfaced that Carter and Stansbury sat out games in Turkish Cup due to unpaid salaries. Without both of them the team was not very competitive.