Bendigo Bank Braves coach Ben Harvey says the return of popular big man Ivan McFarlin is just what the club needs to challenge for SEABL titles again.
McFarlin was yesterday announced as the Braves’ first import signing for next basketball season, his third with the club.
The 2011 east conference MVP, McFarlin won two conference titles with the Braves and was named in the 2010 and 2011 All-Star teams.
While the 31-year-old American’s playing ability is undoubted, his personality off the court will be important to unite the Braves after a tumultuous season with imports Daniel Horton and Deilvez Yearby.
“It’s a bit of a relief to know what he’s like, he’s just going to fit in,” Harvey said.
“It’s really exciting, he’s just a quality guy and he’s someone you want to be around.
“Everyone looks up to Ivan and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of happy people in Bendigo.”
At 203cm, McFarlin will provide the Braves with some much-needed post presence next season.
Uncertainty surrounds Braves MVP Tom Garlepp’s availability for next year, Chris Novak has retired and Yearby left the club on poor terms, extinguishing any chance of a return.
Harvey said McFarlin, who played 11 NBA games with Philadelphia in 2006, would give the Braves more size under the basket.
“I just felt that we need a bit more inside presence, knowing that Tommy (Garlepp) might not come back and with (Chris) Novak retiring,” he said.
“Ivan is too quick for some of the bigs, so he’s still versatile – not as versatile as Deilvez – but we needed a big inside presence.
“He’s definitely a better rebounder, (he) definitely can’t shoot the ball as well as Deilvez, but his work ethic and experience is what it comes down to.
“I’m really excited to know that we’ve got someone who can make a difference. He is big, he won the MVP of the league.”
Harvey had been in regular contact with McFarlin while he played in Japan this season, with talks about a comeback gathering momentum in July.
Next challenge for the Braves coach is to find a replacement for Horton in the backcourt.
“(Ivan’s) played with all these guys before. It’s really the next guy that comes in, that will be the interesting thing now – that’s going to take me a bit of time to find what I need,” Harvey said.
“With Warren (Randall) leaving I think we need a bit more assistance in the back court, that’s the area we need to improve on because that’s where teams have beaten us the past few years.”