It’s 7:40 a.m on a Saturday and I’m struggling to wake up. As my eyes admirably attempt to keep from closing, my fingers type in Russian, keying in a web address to view the three time women's basketball Euroleague Champions Spartak Moscow take on CSKA Moscow.
This is the first game of the Russian League Semifinals, and it is at the home of T.J. The initials stand not of Houshmandzadeh or Ford but instead for the dynamic duo that has dominated women’s basketball overseas for the past two seasons: Taurasi and Jackson.
After logging in successfully, my ears are met by monotone Russian play by play. With squinted eyes, I stare at my computer screen quizzically, for some reason expecting what I’m seeing too change.CSKA Moscow is completely dominating, and Ann Wauters, is undoubtedly the best player on the court. Yes, Ann Wauters, the 6-4 center from Belgium, who for some reason breaks every cliché in the book when it comes to holding onto bigs.
You know, the ones about not trading skilled one’s because their so hard to find, or most who have pure jump shots don’t like playing in the post.
After a three year hiatus, Waters returned to the WNBA in 2008. Wauters was traded to the San Antonio Silver Stars on draft day, and provided a huge lift to the franchise. Wauters possesses both size and skill, she is a versatile big who feels just as comfortable with her back to the basket, than she does shooting an open fifteen foot jumper. The trade not only gave the Silver Stars an inside post presence, but also allowed star forward Sophia Young to not have to deal with battling bigs every night. Wauters helped lead the team to their first ever Western Conference Title.
Unfortunately, in the WNBA finals they met a buzz saw known as the Detroit Shock. Nevertheless, Wauters put up 14.7 points and pulled down 7.5 rebounds per a game during the regular season, numbers that are as impressive as any big, except perhaps the one who plays in Seattle.
On this morning however, I’m witnessing the 6’4 center in Kobe Bryant mode, methodically doing work, and outplaying Lauren Jackson in the process. As, I watch her score nineteen points and grab ten rebounds, scoring inside and out, I begin to get grumpy. How did I not know she was this good?
When the buzzer sounds, the final score reads CSKA Moscow 84- Spartak-70.
The game really wasn‘t even that close.
Spartak eventually did what Spartak does, and came back and won the series.
However, when buzzer rung that day it was only 8:45 a.m. I decided not to go back to sleep. I didn’t want to sleep on Ann Wauter’s any more.