Sheffield Sharks: Team ethic enables Bennett Koch to maintain love for the game

Bennett Koch had fallen out of love with basketball when he left college in the United States to ‘find himself overseas’.

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Sheffield Sharks' Bennett Koch slips past his man in a BBL clash against Bristol Flyers last year. Picture: Dean Atkins.

The 6ft 10in power forward from Wisconsin graduated in 2018 not knowing if his basketball career was over before it had really begun.

A chance to play professionally in the Netherlands for the imaginatively named Dutch Windmills presented itself and so began the healing process.

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But it was when Sheffield Sharks of the British Basketball League came calling in 2019 that the old feelings were reignited.

FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME: Sheffield Sharks' Bennett Koch Picture: Dean Atkins.

“Coming out of college I had a bad relationship with basketball, so the idea was to come overseas, see different parts of the world, find myself and reconnect with basketball and fall in love with the game again,” says Koch.

“I found a bit of that in the Netherlands and a lot of that here with the Sharks.”

It is why, even after the pandemic made for a shortened season played behind closed doors, Koch – now 26 – was happy to return to Sheffield for the 2021-22 campaign, his third in South Yorkshire.

“I like the city, I like the club, I like the players,” says Koch, who lives in a nearby hotel where he gets his meals and his laundry done.

“Playing with a team that fits well and translates well onto the court is important for me.

“When you gel well together with your team-mates it translates onto the court.

“The last two years I’ve definitely noticeed the growth in standard in the league, and you love to see that. The league is on the way up right now.”

Sheffield finished fifth last season and pushed Newcastle Eagles all the way in the play-off quarter-final. They return to Newcastle tonight for the third game in the North Group of the BBL, hoping to improve on their 1-1 record from the opening weekend.

“Obviously you want to be the best in the league. If you don’t want that, what’s the point,” says Koch.

“I believe we’re the best team, but we’ve got to play it one game at a time, and I’d love to get my hands on one of those four trophies this season.”