Spirit import ready to play role for the team

The Bendigo Bank Spirit doesn’t aspire to be a team of champions, but a champion team.

That suits the WNBL club’s new import Kelsey Griffin just fine.

The 2010 WNBA number three draft pick has arrived in Bendigo from Alaska with an outstanding basketball CV.

But with the Spirit off to a 5-0 flyer this season, Griffin knows her role isn’t about standing out, just fitting in.

“(Spirit coach Bernie Harrower) doesn’t need me to go out there and play outside of myself, (but) to just do what I can do and help the team win,” Griffin said.

“You can put a lot of pressure on yourself, definitely, being an import. 

“With the one practice that I had I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure at all just because I’m expected to just be a part of the team.”

Griffin, 25, picked up on the Spirit’s chemistry in her first training session and immediately felt right at home. Part of that has to do with reuniting with her former University of Nebraska team-mate Chelsea Aubry.

“Chelsea was a huge reason why I came here, I was discussing teams and hadn’t really quite figured out what I wanted to do,” Griffin said.

“Chelsea helped me a lot in developing into a great college player, I’m kind of hoping to piggyback that as a professional player, too.”

Griffin was a star in college basketball and was named the Big 12 Player of the Year in her senior year.

While the 188cm forward’s had limited court time with the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA, she hopes playing in the WNBL will help her boost her numbers when she heads back home.

“That’s definitely a perk that I thought coming here I would be able to have a lot of time to improve myself,” Griffin said.

“I know I have improved since college and I haven’t, necessarily, been able to show that in the WNBA yet but I really do think this can be a huge overseas season for me.”

The Spirit is still waiting game for Griffin’s clearance to play, which Bernie Harrower said was unlikely to arrive before Saturday night’s home clash with Dandenong.

While it might be a couple of weeks before Griffin debuts in a Bendigo jersey, Harrower is looking forward to the occassion.

“She’ll certainly enhance our group, not just with her basketball but her demeanour will fit in with our chemistry very well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Renae Camino has taken positive steps in her recovery from a calf tear, which has sidelined her so far this season.

Camino trained lightly on Tuesday night but is not expected to face Dandenong, although young gun Madeleine Garrick will play after her bruised heel pulled up well from last weekend’s big win against West Coast.

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