Overseas Update - April 30, 2009
Nolanís team is No. 1: The greatest team success thus far has been that of Deanna Nolan, whose UMMC Ekaterinburg squad captured its first Superleague title in five years. Nolan averaged 6.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 25.5 minutes per game in the Russian Superleague Playoffs.
UMMC swept the semifinal series over Dynamo Moscow, 2-0, with Nolan posting 12 points, six rebounds and two assists in the series clincher. That set up a finals showdown with rival Spartak Moscow, the defending Superleague champions. Spartak defeated UMMC in the Euroleague semifinals a few weeks ago.
UMMC opened the championship series with a 61-59 victory. Nolanís strong defense limited her WNBA rival, Diana Taurasi, to just two points in the first quarter and nine overall. Nolan contributed two points, two rebounds and two assists. After Spartak ran away with Game 2 to even the series, UMMC held serve and won another close battle on its home court, 70-68.
Taj Tripped Up:Taj McWilliams-Franklin had her season with Familia Schio end in the Italian League semifinals. After an off night in Game 1 of the best-of-three series, McWilliams-Franklin had 19 points, six rebounds and two steals in Game 2 to even the series. She had seven points, six rebounds and four steals in the Game 3 loss to Umana Reyer, 68-63. That final performance was close to her playoff averages of 7.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
Katie and Kara Square Off: Shock teammates Katie Smith and Kara Braxton collided in the Turkish League semifinals after their respective teams, Fenerbahce and Galataray, each swept first-round opponents.
Fenerbahce won the opener of the best-of-five series, 82-72. In 30 minutes Smith had six points, four assists and two rebounds. Braxton had nine points, three rebounds and two assists in defeat. Braxton averaged a respectable 11.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in eight games for Galataray. She got the better of Smith and Fenerbahce in Game 2, as the 6-foot-4 center tallied 12 points, four assists and three rebounds in the 76-66 victory. Smith contributed only three points, two rebounds and two assists for Fenerbahce.
In the deciding Game 3, Braxton wouldnít back down, posting nine points and seven rebounds. But Smith delivered in crunch time like she always does, with 16 points and six rebounds in a 68-64 Fenerbahce victory. So far in the Turkish League Playoffs Smith has averaged 10.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game for Fenerbahce.
Smith and Fenerbahce square off vs. Mersin in Game 1 of the Turkish League Finals on May 3.