The Bendigo Bank Spirit may recruit a tall Australian basketballer on a short-term contract while it searches for an import to replace Kathleen Scheer.
Spirit coach Bernie Harrower sent Scheer home to the USA after it became clear at the weekend the 23-year-old’s injured left knee wouldn’t stand up to a WNBL season.
“Our physio had a look at her and said that we could probably nurse her through, but she wouldn’t be able to train much and play at her full ability because of her restrictions,” Harrower said.
“She was gutted and it was a gut-wrenching decision for us.
“She’s only been here two weeks but she’s a popular member of the group and all the girls will be very sad to see her go.”
Scheer arrived in Bendigo under an injury cloud and was trying to prove her fitness after five months in rehabilitation for tendonitis-like symptoms in her knee.
But the 6’2” Duke University graduate has struggled training and battled during the final of the WNBL’s pre-season tournament against Bulleen on Sunday.
“They’re a big athletic team and after playing two games in a row and then having to back up for a third in three days she just struggled with her mobility against the athletes,” Harrower said.
“We were really hopeful she could get through the weekend and not have too many side-effects because we certainly wanted to keep her.
“We had to do the right thing by her as well. The last thing we wanted was forcing her to play when she wasn’t right and doing some long-term damage.”
Scheer’s departure is a major setback for the under-sized Spirit before its season-opening match in Adelaide on October 5.
The Spirit then plays West Coast in Perth the next day, before another tough double-header against last season’s grand finalists Bulleen and Dandenong the following weekend.
Harrower might search for a domestic player to help out Gabe Richards, Chelsea Aubry and new recruit Hayley Monro against the league’s tall timber until another import arrives.
“We could be playing all of October without the second import,” he said.
“Initially, we may look for a short-term option with an Australian somewhere who doesn’t want to play the whole season but we might be able to get a few weeks out of.”
Bendigo might not have seen the last of Scheer, though, with Harrower keen to get the popular American back if she regains full fitness.
“She’s definitely somebody we would be looking at next year to come back and play with us,” he said.
“She loves Bendigo and loves the girls and, who knows, there might even be a spot in the Lady Braves for her as a restricted (player).
“We’ll be trying to help her out as much as we can to get her back here.”