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 spoke to his good friend Henare when deciding to accept the role - takes the reins on a two-year deal with an option for a third, and has earned his coaching chops with the Wellington Saints in the NZ NBL.
Braswell has won two titles in his two years in charge in Wellington, and while he had the best rosters to work with, he has barely put a foot wrong, utilising 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. He then stuck around in New Zealand, playing for the Southland Sharks for five seasons, before transitioning into coaching, where the 39-year-old has shone to date.
Braswell, who considered applying for the previously vacant Cairns Taipans role, was stunned that the opportunity came up for him to take over as Breakers coach.
"It was all a shock. It wasn't really planned but the more that we spoke about it the more it sounded like a great idea. Now that it's come to fruition, I'm ready for the challenge."
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 his first-hand experiences with many of the Breakers roster will prove fruitful.
"I've always been shouting instructions as a point guard, and everyone didn't listen at the time, but now guys listen to me more that I've got the coaching rank," he laughed.
"I've coached a lot of guys who have played here at the Breakers, I'm more of a players coach – I put guys in the position to play well. I'm not coming in to try and change everything right away, that's not how anyone should operate."
The Breakers currently have four players under contract - Alex Pledger, Shea Ili, Finn Delany and Tom Abercrombie – and with the Australian NBL free agency opening today, Braswell is already at work, reaching out to players.
The Breakers are also 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.