Braves big man Ray Turner. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

BENDIGO Braves coach Ben Harvey has challenged his side to be less reliant on its stars after slumping to three consecutive losses.

The Braves men started the season 4-0 before dropping four of their past five games to sit 5-4 and ninth on the SEABL table heading into a clash with Sandringham tonight.

That losing stretch includes a pair of round seven losses to the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence and Dandenong.

The team has been dealt injury blows to Daniel Hansen – who missed what would have been his 100th game last Sunday due to injury – and David Hogan, while Indiana Faithfull was ejected during the loss to Dandenong after just four minutes of game time.

A perplexed Harvey said the Braves simply need to be better on both ends of the floor.

“I set a target for us of 40 stops on defence per game. When we get that, we win. When we don’t, we lose,” he said.

“We’re losing a bit of focus on defence, we got 31 stops against the Centre of Excellence and 34 against Dandenong and that seems to be a pattern right now.

“I know we have to get better offensively and things like that but defence is what wins games.

“That’s something we’re really good at but we’re not trusting in our team defence.

“We’ve got personalities in the team… We’re trying to find our identity again, it’s kind of weird. We’ve hit a bump on the road and we need to take control of it.”

Harvey admitted that as coach he is “nervous to know what team will turn up” to each game.

With a shortened rotation due to injuries, Harvey said the players around Kendle and Turner needed to stand up for the Braves to return to the winners list.

“That’s not to say that players like Jake Lloyd have to score when they come in off the bench, but they will have opportunities to score because Ray and Jeremy get so much attention,” he said.

“At the moment yeah, we probably are too reliant on those two.”

The Braves had set a preseason goal of being 8-3 at the bye held over Queen’s Birthday weekend, and while they can’t reach that with four losses already they could get there at a respectable 7-4.

The good news is Harvey doesn’t have to look far to inspire his team this week.

They’ll run out onto a packed Bendigo Stadium showcourt for the first time tonight as part of the first night of basketball in the new facility.

“It’s exciting, even I’m excited,” he said.

“I hope that brings a real energy to the group because we need it. We’ve just been flat, we’re going to change the routine this week, get a good warm-up in before the game at half time because we can’t be flat like we have been.

“We need to win because we play Kilsyth at home next week and that will be really tough. If playing in there in front of a big crowd can’t get them up, I’m not really sure what will.”

– Joel Peterson