Kendle return a major boost for Braves on and off the court

MISSING the playoffs doesn’t sit comfortably with the Bendigo Braves and their fiercely-competitive coach Ben Harvey.

Jeremy Kendle in 2016.

Jeremy Kendle in 2016.

The Braves are a basketball club that prides itself on regularly putting a competitive team on the floor and reaching the business end of the SEABL season.

That didn’t happen this year as the Braves fell from winning a championship in 2016 – the third in their history alongside 1988 and 2005 – to missing the 2017 play-offs.

By no means were the Braves a pushover with their 11-13 record, which included a pair of massive wins over the two championship game combatants Mount Gambier (21 points) and Dandenong (32), but they weren’t consistent enough to finish top four.

However, while one player certainly doesn’t make a team, the Braves have fired off the first salvo in what Harvey expects to be a return to the top echelon for his side with the signing of Jeremy Kendle.

Those who kept a close watch on the Braves during their 2016 championship run will know just what a kickstart into their 2018 campaign the return of Kendle means for Bendigo and its prospects next year.

The sweet-shooting guard from Indiana in just one season with the Braves in 2016 has already made an indelible mark on the club and now has the opportunity to further strengthen his imprint.

His on-court numbers in 2016 speak for itself – 27.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game – as he became just the fourth Brave behind Ricky Daniels (1999, 2000), Shawn Redhage (2005) and Ivan McFarlin (2011) to win the league MVP.

But it’s off the court and behind the scenes that has Harvey and the Braves equally as excited given the positive impact Kendle has on team culture, his care for team-mates and mentoring of younger players that shouldn’t be under-estimated in the club having reached the championship summit in 2016.