Seeking to return to the path of glory, former continental champion Limoges CSP has put together a brand new team for the 2017-18 7DAYS EuroCup campaign. The long list of newcomers to the club includes a new man on the sidelines, too. Kyle Milling is the head coach who will lead Limoges into the season and has the task of finding chemistry on a team that features only one player left over from the previous season, center Frejus Zerbo, who enters his seventh with the club. Among those who arrived, five of them have previous experience playing in the 7DAYS EuroCup or Turkish Airlines EuroLeague: forwards Josh Carter, William Howard and Axel Bouteille, center Mam Jaiteh and guard Jean-Baptiste Maille.
Limoges seems to have plenty of playmakers on the perimeter and looks like a team with a deep backcourt. Experience could be a very important factor for Limoges this season, with a pair of veterans, Danny Gibson and Kenneth Hayes, running the offense from the point guard position. Hayes will also be an important piece of Limoges’s perimeter defense, while Gibson, who was brought after the knee injury suffered by Jean-Baptiste Maille, has been a reliable three-point shooter throughout his career. Limoges has the potential to be a very dangerous shooting team with A.J. English and Axel Bouteille serving as the team’s shooting guards. English can be a helping hand as a second point-guard, but more than anything, both he and Bouteille have the ability to consistently hit from mid and long range. Add wingmen Josh Carter and William Howard to the mix, two guys with size who can be lethal from downtown, and defending Limoges on the perimeter could turn into a nightmare for any defense.
The feature in Limoges’s paint this season will be Mam Jaiteh, an up-and-coming young big man, good rebounder and finisher around the rim who already shined in the competition two seasons ago when he wore the JSF Nanterre uniform. Veteran big man Zerbo is likely to come off the bench, while teenager Timothee Bazille is expected to gain experience this season. Brian Conklin is a big bruising forward who will hope to make the opposition feel his presence inside, while the more athletic Jean-Frederic Morency can keep defenders honest with his three-point shot. Importantly for this group, Morency and Conklin played together at Nanterre last season, which should help this group jell quicker.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Among many arrivals to Limoges this summer, it is two that came from the same club, Hyeres-Toulon, who could be making the biggest impact. That’s where Coach Milling and young small forward William Howard spent last two seasons together and did so with success, helping the club earn promotion into the elite French flight and then putting it into the playoff conversation for a large part of last season. It is where the coach gave his young player a shot and Howard grabbed it with both hands. Tall and athletic, good on the glass and with a nice touch from long range, Howard has all the tools to keep excelling. His two brief EuroCup appearances in the 2013-14 season might look insignificant, but even that can help a young player in giving him a better idea what to expect in the coming months and make this his breakout season.
It can never be an easy job to put together a team of 12 new players who essentially never played with one another before, but that’s what coach Milling and Limoges have been trying to do this summer. What does go in Limoges's favor is the number of veteran leaders, including both point guards, whose experience could help speed up the process. If they achieve that, combined with youth and talent on the roster and a number of potential scorers able to put up big numbers, this proud club with a faithful crowd that has been watching elite basketball for most of the last two decades could be in for a promising season.