Bendigo Bank Spirit coach Bernie Harrower wants a bigger budget to help retain and improve his championship-winning WNBL squad.
The Spirit is expected to post a significant profit from last basketball season and Harrower hopes to have more money to offer players after he meets with the club’s board tonight.
“I’m hoping that will be the case because when you’ve got a successful team other people are coming after you,” Harrower said.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to maintain the majority of the squad if we can afford it and even enhance it.”
Harrower held talks with half the squad last night and is keen to avoid the dramas of last year when the club struggled to recruit.
“We struggled to get anywhere at all last year, so it’s important that we get some stuff done early in the piece,” he said.
“Everybody we’d offer money to, somebody would offer more. It might be different this year after the championship, who knows.”
The Spirit needs to replace outgoing forward Chelsea Aubry, while Harrower will look to recruit another point guard in case daughter Kristi retires.
Kristi’s decision may not be known for months, but Harrower will plan around her not playing.
“If we left it for six months and all of a sudden she’s not playing then we’re out of the marketplace,” he said.
Grand final MVP Kelsey Griffin’s future also remains uncertain, but the Spirit coach hopes the star import returns.
“It might be out of our hands, it might be out of her hands – it might be one of those things that’s left until later,” Harrower said.
“With imports it can be left until later. It’s more about getting the Australian component signed up.
“It would be nice to have her signature on the dotted line before she leaves. If that was the case it’s a huge bonus for us.”
Meanwhile, after leading the Bendigo Bank Spirit to a historic WNBL title, Bernie and Kristi Harrower are now in the running for two of the league’s highest individual honours.
Kristi is nominated for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, while her father Bernie is a contender for Coach of the Year.
Kristi, the MVP in 2009-10, is vying for the award alongside reigning MVP Suzy Batkovic from Adelaide and Dandenong star Jenna O’Hea.
The champion point guard won the Spirit’s MVP last week after averaging 15.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in 2012-13.
Batkovic enjoyed another stellar season, with her 21 points, 9.6 boards and 2.2 assists only slightly down on the year before.
O’Hea averaged 14.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and handed out six assists per game this season for the Rangers.
Kristi is also nominated for the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year gong and is expected to be named in the All-Star Five at Crown Casino on Sunday.
A fairytale season has landed Bernie a nomination among four other contenders for Coach of the Year. Bernie moulded a team many pundits thought would struggle to make finals into a championship outfit.
A year after the Spirit almost folded because of debt, Harrower galvanised his side to win the pre-season tournament, before finishing on top of the ladder with a 21-3 record.
Other coaches nominated are Chris Lucas, who led the Townsville Fire to its first grand final, Adelaide’s Peter Buckle, Logan’s Jason Chainey and Dandenong’s Mark Wright.
Other awards to be presented include the Betty Watson Rookie of the Year and Referee of the Year.