FOR Darcy Harding, this year’s SEABL season has been one long learning experience.
The young Albury-Wodonga Bandits rookie quickly discovered the step-up to Australia’s premier second-tier basketball league was much bigger than he anticipated.
Harding, 19, arrived on the Border this year after completing his scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport.
At 201 centimetres, Harding was expected to add some scoring punch off the bench, utilising both his athleticism and genuine three-point range.
And while season averages of 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game don’t look like much, the Bateman’s Bay native has provided moments of energy throughout the Border club’s roller-coaster campaign.
“I’ve definitely enjoyed the season,” Harding said.
“The culture around the club is great.
“My expectations for myself, coming into the league, were higher.
“It’s been a bit of a disappointing season for myself.
“It’s a tough league — it was more surprising for me than anything, the physicality and the smarts of some of the older players.
“There’s a lot of players that are pretty savvy.”
For Harding, the next step is taking the promise he’s shown and expanding on that next year.
He’s already talked about his progression with coach Brad Chalmers, who reiterated the need for the forward to replicate what he does in practice when it really matters.
“I feel like I do really well at practice but then don’t transition that to the games,” Harding said.
“But I’ve definitely felt more comfortable as the season has gone on.
“I’ve gotten a bit more court time over the past few games and felt like I can contribute more and get the job done.”
With the playoffs officially out of reach, the reigning SEABL champions play host to North West Tasmania tomorrow night at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
The game will be import playmaker Jermel Jenkins’ final hit-out for the Border club, with his playing visa expiring before the final game against Brisbane next week.
In 15 games, Jenkins has averaged 21.8 points 5 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game as a replacement for sacked import Eric Vann.
Jenkins’ status for next season is unclear, with the Bandits expected to undertake a comprehensive review of the playing group when the season has finished.
“We’re definitely trying to get two wins to finish the season.
“It’s our last game as a full team, with JJ (Jenkins) heading home so we really need to stick together to get the win,” Harding said.