BENDIGO Brave Daniel Hansen says he’s eager to step up and fill some of the leadership void left by the retirement of former skipper Taylor Bell.
The 25-year-old will suit up for his seventh SEABL season for the Braves in 2018, and is keen to do whatever he can to see the team return to prominence after a rare year without finals.
If that means a leadership role, Hansen says he’s ready to oblige.
“I feel there is that expectation … and an expectation to produce more,” he said.
“Personally, in the first half of last season I thought I did quite well, but I dropped off a bit in the second half.
“I was happy with my season, but thought I could have gone better, but this year gives me a chance to do that.”
Hansen averaged a career-high 6.5 points in his role off the bench last season, including a season-high 18 points in a win against south conference grand finalists Nunawading Spectres.
The Braves have headed into pre-season with renewed optimism, buoyed by the signings of new imports Jeremy Kendle and Ray Turner and exciting Illawarra Hawks point guard Indiana Faithfull.
Hansen admitted he was yet to meet Turner and Faithfull, who will join the team at a later date, but like all associated with the Braves was thrilled by the return of 2016 league most valuable player and national championship star Jeremy Kendle.
“Having his experience back is going to make a world of difference,” he said.
“Jeremy always brings that winning culture.
“Maybe last year we just didn’t come together when things were getting tough – we were very inconsistent.
“We would have wins against the top teams, but lose to the bottom teams – it was extremely puzzling.”
Hansen is a product of the Junior Braves system.
The 192cm guard played eight seasons in the club’s junior and development seasons before progressing to the SEABL ranks under current coach Ben Harvey.
He is due to play his 100th game for the Braves this season.
While comfortable with his role as one of the Braves’ more experienced SEABL hands, Hansen hoped Bell, who retired at the end of 2017 after 336 games and 25 finals, retained some role within the club.
“The amount of experience he has got – not just for someone like me who has been in the league a while – but everyone, it’s a massive loss,” he said.
“Hopefully he is still around in some role, especially for the younger guys who are coming up.”
The Braves open their season at Diamond Valley on April 6.