Kendle rekindles Braves flame

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 08-Dec-2017

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Jeremy Kendle is primed for a Braves return. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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THEY trained Tuesdays and Thursdays and played on weekends, but Monday nights might have been the most important part of the Bendigo Braves’ 2016 championship season.

The club’s on-court success was in no small part due to strong team chemistry, the bonds of which were forged at a weekly Monday dinner at coach Ben Harvey’s house.

So when the former league MVP signed with the Braves and decided to make a return to Bendigo in 2018, one thing was on his mind.

“He wanted to know if Monday night dinners were still on,” coach Ben Harvey said.

“I said yes, but Jeremy has gotten married and there’s a fair few more of us now. So my biggest worry is who is going to fund it.”

After the year in which he led Bendigo to a long-awaited championship, the paths of both the Braves and Kendle himself haven’t reached the destination either would have hoped for.

Kendle signed in New Zealand hoping to land a long-term NBL roster spot and bounced around from Brisbane to Sydney but was unable to cement himself.

Meantime 2017 for the Braves was wildly disappointing, plagued by off-court issues, injuries and a prevailing individualism that did not lend itself to any kind of success.

As has become customary among so many Braves players under Harvey, Kendle kept in contact with his coach after developing a strong bond with Harvey and his family.

“I’ve always prided myself on having that strong bond with my players, which I think is really important,” Harvey said.

“When he gave me an indication he was thinking about it, it was really exciting. But it was a strange feeling – I was really happy he wanted to come back, but had to not get too excited just in case he didn’t.”

Kendle’s sole SEABL season was nothing short of a revelation – in all 27 games in 2016 he scored at least 16 points, only dipped below 20 points five times and topped 30 points 12 times.

Harvey said Kendle’s greatest strength is not shown in the box score.

“He’s just a phenomenal team player, he makes everyone around him better and I think that’s one of his biggest assets,” Harvey said.

“Jeremy knows he has to get better, and that he saw this as an opportunity to develop is a real credit to what we have here.”

It hasn’t been all doom-and-gloom for Kendle since his Kiwi sojourn saw him leave the Braves.

In that time he’s been married to now-wife Nadia and no doubt learned plenty from his NBL experience.

It isn’t clear whether he will get the chance to return to the NBL level, but Harvey is backing his star recruit.

“Jeremy can play at that level. I have no doubt about that. He just has to get the right opportunity, which he hasn’t yet,” he said.

What is clear is the end game for this reunited pair.

That’s to win a second SEABL championship.

Harvey makes no bones about following the model that led to success two years ago.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to have a great team, but we have to go and get it,” Harvey said.

“Yes, Jeremy Kendle is back, I’m expecting our guys to step up. 

“Guys are going to get more opportunities, but they have to earn it.

“I’m very excited for next season.”

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