On Friday, we took a quick look at the Mystics’ players who are staying in the United States during the winter. Unlike most WNBA teams who have at least half of their roster abroad, only four players on the 2017 Mystics roster (or five if you include LaToya Sanders) are playing elsewhere. Today, let’s take a look at how they’re doing and where their overseas teams are at this point in the WNBA season.
Emma Meesseman, Kristi Toliver, and LaToya Sanders
Team: UMMC Ekaterinburg
Domestic League: PBL, Russia
European League: EuroLeague Women
How are they doing? As we discussed with FIBA’s Paul Nilsen, European teams are competing for multiple championships. The domestic championship is one, while EuroBasket or EuroCup is the other.
For UMMC, they are currently second in the PBL with an 11-1 record. Their one loss was to Dynamo Kursk, the current undefeated leader in PBL play on December 17.
Given how strong of a team UMMC is, the team’s core tends to channel more of their efforts on EuroLeague Women games than the PBL games, unless they’re playing a team that’s also in EuroLeague this year of course. Right now, UMMC is third in Group B with a 9-3 record. Brittney Griner is leading the team in scoring and rebounding (17.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg) in EuroLeague competition.
Emma Meesseman is the second overall scorer (not per game) where she’s averaging 11.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2 assists per game. Sanders is averaging 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. And Toliver joined UMMC midseason, where she’s averaging 13 points per game.
Instead of just running through a bunch of stats, here are some videos. In each of Meesseman’s last two EuroLeague games, she scored at least 15 points in games against Turkish team Fenerbahce (an 80-77 loss on January 10) and Russian rival Nadezdha (a 96-53 win on January 17):
In the Fenerbahce loss on January 10, Sanders scored 6 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. She has always been a tenacious rebounder for Washington, so seeing this kind of a performance is a good thing considering that she missed last year due to a foot injury.
As stated before, Toliver came in as a midseason addition for UMMC. In her last two EuroLeague women games, she averaged 14 points and 7 assists. Check these highlights out!
UMMC is winning a lot of games, but they’ve had their share of issues this season. Mercury guard Diana Taurasi retired from UMMC not long before Christmas after performing poorly all fall long. She’s still playing for the Mercury next season so maybe all she needs is recharging her batteries:
Then on December 22, UMMC signed Lynx forward Maya Moore to replace Taurasi. This is like the Lakers replacing Kobe Bryant with LeBron James if there was no salary cap!
But that’s not all. UMMC’s head coach Olaf Lange resigned on January 17, soon after their win over Nadezhda due to family reasons. Spanish coach and former Famila Schio boss Miguel Mendez replaced Lange on Friday.
UMMC should safely cruise their way to a Top 3 seed in the PBL which will secure a EuroLeague Women berth in 2018-19. But for this squad, they’re also aiming for EuroLeague Women championships, so it’ll be interesting to see how Meesseman, Toliver, and Sanders mesh with their new coach, and their new teammate in Moore. On that front, UMMC still has two more group stage games left where they will try to secure their position for the EuroLeague Women quarterfinals starting on February 28.
Team: Mersin Buyuksehir Belediye
Domestic League: KBSL, Turkey
European League: EuroCup Women
Thomas is playing for Mersin, which is one of Turkey’s mid-table teams. The KBSL is very stacked from top to bottom, where they’re currently fifth in the league with an 8-6 record. They’re 4.5 games behind third place Hatay, so it’s gonna be tough for Mersin to get into third place and secure a EuroLeague Women spot for the 2018-19 season.
The KBSL is quite competitive from the top tier to mid tier teams, and this is the European team I’d like to see make a run at the Top 3. Thomas is one reason why, where she’s averaging 12.9 points and 12 rebounds in KBSL play. She’s also averaging 15.1 points and 12.1 rebounds in EuroCup play.
Check out these highlights:
But there’s another reason to root for Mersin.
Bria Hartley is another reason why, and maybe we feel like we wish she was still in Washington. She’s leading Mersin with 19.8 points and 3.9 assists per game in KBSL play. She’s also made over two threes per game on average for Mersin this season in domestic play. And in EuroCup play, Hartley is leading Mersin with 16.4 points and 4 assists per game. Let’s just say that Hartley is gonna have a great 2018 season, wherever she goes next summer!
Mersin has a long road to clinching a Top-3 seed in the KBSL, so I don’t think they’ll make the EuroLeague. But in EuroCup, they were 4-2 in Group B which was good enough for second place. Mersin easily defeated MBA Moscow in the EuroCup’s playoff round and did the same to TTT Riga, a Latvian club in the Round of 16.
They’ll play French side Flammes Carolo Basket in the Round of 8 before the Playoffs. The Playoffs will include the Top four EuroCup teams and four EuroLeague teams, namely the 5th and 6th place teams in each of their two groups.
Going back to Thomas, I’m very happy to see how her 2017 season with the Mystics went. The momentum she got since taking the starting center spot in June has definitely carried over into Europe right now, and I think she’ll be even better this summer!
Team: OGM Orman Genclick Ankara
League: KBSL, Turkey
Walker-Kimbrough is averaging 8.3 points and 3.2 rebounds for Orman, who’s currently 11th (out of 14 teams) in the KBSL. It’s generally tougher for WNBA rookies to get roles on EuroCup and EuroLeague teams because these teams usually have quotas on how many foreigners they can have.
Team: Sydney University Flames
League: WNBL, Australia
Taylor is the Flames’ leading scorer with 18.9 points per game and second leading rebounder with 7.7 per game. She was also the fourth leading scorer in the entire league.
The Flames were second in the WNBL standings, but they lost in the semifinals to the Townsville Fire, two games to zero. Considering that Taylor didn’t get much playing time last summer for the Mystics, this is definitely a positive experience for her.