A KEY piece from Bendigo Lady Braves’ 2017 conference championship team, Bianca Dufelmeier has re-signed for another season.
The 25-year-old is the fourth player from last year’s roster to recommit to the SEABL club following the December signings of Maddi Wild, Jess Rennie and Ahlise Hurst.
She joins a Braves team still taking shape, but bolstered by the acquisitions of 2017-18 Bendigo Spirit MVP Nadeen Payne and her WNBL team-mates Ashleigh Karaitiana and Kara Tessari.
Further prominent signings are expected in the weeks ahead.
Dufelmeier, who averaged eight points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists during an injury-hampered first season with the Lady Braves, had no hesitation in re-signing with the reigning south conference champions.
“Last year (when I signed) I spoke about how inviting this place is and how everyone makes you feel like you are at home and that hasn’t changed,” she said.
“So, here we are for round two.”
The sharp-shooting guard, who played three seasons of US college ball at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, is impressed by how the team’s roster is taking shape.
“We have a good core of the WNBL girls coming who have had either a season or two seasons playing with each other,” she said.
“There’s nothing better than having that understanding between each other and the rest of us can learn that as we go.”
Then there is the motivation of atoning for a national grand final loss to Geelong Supercats in a game which the Lady Braves led by 14 points at half time.
“It’s always disappointing getting to that final game and not winning, but it just went to show that we were a good team,” she said.
“I was happy with my season but I was more impressed and proud to be part of that group.
“If you looked at us on paper we didn’t look like much, but we sat on top of the ladder for the whole season, gave up a couple of games we shouldn’t have, but we came back fighting and had a ripper of a conference final against Launceston, who are a great side.
“We have the potential to win it this year – we have the people who are coming back and with the new additions, I think we can go the whole way.
“But you look at the additions around the league, there are a lot of teams who would be saying the same.”
The former Canberran has slotted in nicely to life in Bendigo and is employed by Bendigo Stadium Limited as its community engagement officer.
New Lady Braves coach Megan Moody said she was excited to have Dufelmeier back on-board for 2018.
I was happy with my (first) season but I was more impressed and proud to be part of that group.Bianca Dufelmeier
“In her first SEABL season last year, Bianca showed that she is a player not to be over looked,” Moody said.
“She is a fierce competitor on the court, who can attack you off the dribble and get to the rack, knock down a three, or lock down someone on the defensive end.
“Despite battling through a couple of season long injuries, it’s exciting to think what Bianca can add to our group this year.
“She’s been putting in the work during the off-season into her own game, while also developing the next generation players coming through the junior program, coaching the under-18 girls Bendigo Junior Braves side, and also assistant coaching with the Bendigo Braves CBL women’s team, who play in their semi-final match this weekend.”