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Home - Damligan (Women's league) in Sweden – unpredictable and different


  Damligan in Sweden – unpredictable and different


November 16, 2009

damligan sverigeThe Swedish women´s basketball league, Damligan, has gone through some major changes this year. Last season, two Swedish clubs, 08 Stockholm and Solna Vikings, played in women´s EuroCup. This year no team will participate. Clubs have been forced to decrease their budgets substantially due to the current global economic situation and lack of sponsors. New tax legislation will cause increased social costs for foreign players, and several clubs are also struggling with budget deficits that go years back.

Is it good or bad?
Last season there were around 30 foreign players in Damligan. The number this year is 16, and player quality is not what it used to be. Leading international players, like Leah Metcalf, Sabrina Scott, Brittney Vaughn and Carla Bartee are no longer in the league and Solna star Jurgita Kausaite has given up her carrier and is now coach in Vikings. Several domestic stars have turned pros in Europe, e.g. Louice Halvarsson, Hanna Bouldwin and Elisabeth Egnell. In all, this has lead to a situation where several teams have had problems filling their rosters with quality players. Two clubs, Jämtland and Eskilstuna, even had to withdraw from Damligan, thus giving room for two newcomers, Sallen from Uppsala and Eos Lund. Never before has Damligan been so unpredictable. While some argue that loss of standard will be fatal for the league and Swedish women´s basketball, others say that this is a long needed catharsis, meaning that clubs have to start adjusting themselves to reality of economics. With more than 40 rookies in Damligan and the star players gone, for sure, it cannot keep up to standards in a short perspective. In the long run though, it could mean good things. Lots of young Swedish have the opportunity carry heavy minutes and play important roles in their respective teams. Five of the clubs have decided to play with only domestic players, which in itself is a completely new situation.

Favorites in remarkable game
Champions Solna Vikings are once again favorites for the title, with 08 Stockholm as their main contender. Solna has lost Egnell and Kausaite, but have a strong starting line-up, with experienced players like Maria Näsström, Christy Bacon and Katarina Andersson. They also have recruited several young players, who not yet are ready for top level performances, but constitute the club´s investment for the future. Stockholm has a strong and balanced squad. Kadidja Andersson is their leading player, and great stuff is expected from young star Fahriya Abdi this winter, but the team´s problem in a championship series against Solna could very well be shortage of individual stars, players that make the difference when going gets tough. 08 Stockholm surprisingly lost a tight game to Telge in the 5th round after leading most of the game, and suffered another defeat in Monday night´s game in Solna, but it was to become another of those remarkable and unpredictable games that we already seen several of. The reigning champions massacered their opponents in the first quarter. 08 Stockholm was outscored 3-28, out-rebounded 3-18 and only managed to score in one of their 15 field-goal attempts. Solnas solid defense laid the way for their lead, and offensively playmaker Maria Näsström and center Katarina Andersson had some great moments. However, Stockholm led by Martina Stälvandt and Kadija Anderson, struck back. They won the remaining quarters, defended  themselves with pure aggression and managed to tie the game with 3 minutes to go. Solna, rotating on only 7 players, pulled their act together in the end. Rookie guard Emma Halldin-Wedin buried a decisive 3-pointer with half a minute remaining, enabling her team to win the battle, 70-66. Näsström was the star of the match and topscorer in Solna with 22, completing her double-double with 10 assists. Katarina Andersson had 21 and 8 rebounds. Stölvandt made 21 for Stockholm. Young Fahriya Abdi had a poor evening and scored only in 2 of her 13 attempts, but pulled down 9 rebounds. The game left both teams with things to consider. Solna had a fantastic start but must be miserable with the turnaround of the game, even though they came out as winners. Consistency throughout the game is needed, even so for their contenders. 08 Stockholm must get credit for the way they fought back and ¾ of the game showed that they can stand up against Solna, but poor performances like in the first quarter
will not lead them to the finals.

Semifinal candidates
Telge, lead by 18 year old star Cleopatra Forsman-Goga, has impressed everyone in the start of the season. They are unbeaten after 6 rounds, but got away with pure luck in their last game. Telge built up a 24 point lead over Sundsvall with one quarter remaining, but almost lost it all at the end. Sundsvall tied the game with 15 seconds to go after an intense full court pressure, but Telge managed to score, leaving Sundsvall with only 4 seconds to take the game to overtime, which was not enough. Telge got away with a 81-79 win. The Telge team, with an average of only 17 years, has for the second year in a row lost four of their starters, but continues to produce players from their youth program. Telge also managed to recruit 16 year old center prospect Amanda Zahui (193) to cover up for the loss of Halvarsson. Zahui is an important addition to the squad as the lack of big players in Damligan is evident.

Luleå reached semifinals this spring, but have made a complete turnaround in their roster. The team is full of three point shooters, but they lack the inside power to make them serious contenders. The latter is also goes for Norrköping. They have a talented team and managed to bring in star forward Frida Grahn from Luleå but are not yet ready to challenge the top teams. Norrköping and Telge will anyway, most certainly, reach top six with a potential to make it to the semifinals.

All teams have won
Typically, three of the teams that have completed their rosters with two or more import players are doing well in the early stages of the season; Mark, Umeå and Sundsvall are all 3-3 after six rounds, which is better than expected. Experienced center Amy Mohr in Umeå is statistical leader in both scoring and rebounds, and Mark has a powerful duo in center Shawn Goff and forward Ashley Key. Sundsvall, with three import players and Swedish star Anna Höglund, could have been in an even better position despite their shortage of players. They lost against both Telge and Solna with only two points. The struggle to avoid the relegation games next spring will be hard. At present Sallen (2-4), Eos, Visby and Brahe (all 1-5), are in the bottom positions, but uncertainty is the name of the game in Damligan this year.

Damligan after six rounds:

1.
Solna
6-0


2.
Telge
6-0


3.
08 Stockholm
4-2


4.
Luleå
3-3


5.
Norrköping
3-3


6.
Sundsvall
3-3


7.
Mark
3-3


8.
Umeå
3-3


9.
Sallen
2-4


10.
Eos
1-5


11.
Visby
1-5


12.
Brahe
1-5







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