Basketball: Kevin Braswell announced as new Breakers coach

Kevin Braswell. Photo / Dean Purcell.

The New Zealand Breakers have confirmed their new head coach, and quite frankly, he’s a lot like the old one.

With former Breakers point guard-turned-coach Paul Henare leaving the club in stunning fashion last month, the Breakers have opted to replace him with another one of their former point guards – Kevin Braswell.

It’s a sound move. Braswell, who takes the reins on a two-year deal with an option for a third, has earned his coaching chops with the Wellington Saints, winning two titles in his two years in charge.

While he has had the best rosters to work with in those years, Braswell has barely put a foot wrong, using the right rotations and getting full buy-in from his players. As a result, the Saints achieved a remarkable NBL first last year – becoming the first team to go unbeaten throughout the entire season.

Braswell will remain in charge of the Saints for the NZ NBL season which starts next week, and It’s likely that several of that Saints squad will also be plying their trade with the Breakers this season.

In Braswell, the Breakers have snapped up the best local candidate for the job; someone whose career is coming full circle. The American spent two years at the Breakers from 2010-2011, helping the club to their first Australian NBL title. The import then stuck around, playing for the Southland Sharks for five seasons, before transitioning into coaching, where the 39-year-old (Again, the same age as Henare) has shone to date.

New Breakers CEO Matt Walsh is excited about bringing Braswell back into the fold.

“We are delighted to announce Kevin as our next head coach, someone who knows the club and has a strong association with the NBL.

“This has been a tough process with KB winning out over a list of high quality candidates. His vision for the team and the style of play that he will bring fits with our vision as owners.

“We will play an up-tempo exciting brand of basketball, KB’s record as a player and more importantly as a coach fits that style, that track record and the interview process has convinced us that he is our man.”

Braswell was stunned that the opportunity came up for him to take over as Breakers coach.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity, I honestly am at a loss for words in a way. It wasn’t my plan to be head coach of the Breakers. But the opportunity opened up out of the blue and suddenly it got exciting. I started talking with Dillon and Matt and we spoke about where the new owners are wanting to take the club and things they have planned, it sounded great and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

“I am ambitious and considered applying for the Cairns job, but this is right for me. Matt and Dillon are talking about playing up-tempo, a style of game I am familiar and comfortable with. I know most of the players at the club and in the league, and I know the culture from my time here as a player.”

This will be a step up for Braswell, and compared to some of the other candidates, he lacks experience coaching at a high level. However, his early track record indicates a coach worth taking a punt on, and he will be immediately in action, with the Australian NBL free agency opening today.

The Breakers currently have four players under contract – Alex Pledger, Shea Ili, Finn Delany and Tom Abercrombie – and Braswell has already targeted some additions for the 2018-2019 season.

“It was part of the interview process, I had a list of players I wanted to sign, and I know Matt and Dillon have a list of players they are keen to talk to. That is our focus, that is the priority, I can’t wait to get to work,” said Braswell.

The Breakers are aiming to confirm Braswell’s assistant coaches in the next few weeks. Current assistant Judd Flavell applied for the head coaching role, and the Breakers have indicated they would like to keep both him and fellow assistant Mike Fitchett on in their respective roles.

Source: nzherald.co.nz (16th April 2018)

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