Tonight I find myself court side at the Donald Dewar Centre, named after a past alumnus of the University and, of course, Scotland’s first ever First Minister. This was the setting for Glasgow’s opening game of the season against Stirling, and it was a fine vantage point to view what was a thrilling and action-packed game.
As both teams lined up, it was striking to note the height advantage Glasgow had over the visitors. Yet early on this acted as more of a hindrance for the home side. Glasgow were guilty all night of being overly physical and conceded too many sloppy fouls at the start. The play early on was to set the tone for the evening, with Glasgow going on to concede no fewer than five fouls in the first quarter, all resulting in free throws and giving away slack points.
Glasgow called a time out after only two minutes and it was much needed. Coach Lawton regrouped his troops, ordering them to stop the barrage of foul points being given away so cheaply. This pep talk seemed to have the desired effect and Glasgow ended the first quarter with some terrific play to bring the home side to 22 – 31.
This resurgence was carried on into the second quarter and Glasgow started brightly. They were now flexing a dominance that had earlier been lacking. But, as quickly as the fight back started, they returned to giving away cheap fouls.
With these easy points Stirling’s confidence grew: some classy play from Stirling’s Lodge and Scott caused Glasgow all sorts of problems; their piercing, dribbling runs terrorising the home defence.
They exploited the huge gaps in Glasgow’s defence and at times the towering home team looked lacklustre and lumbering, as they struggled to match Stirling’s drive and pace, and were constantly caught flat-footed.
At times a few of Glasgow’s taller players resembled baby giraffes trapped on ice, rather than basketball players — it was all very awkward and cumbersome.
Glasgow needed a boost, and with the introduction to the game of Mraz, they got that much needed lift. His arrival injected a vibrancy to the Glasgow play and saw the scoreboard constantly ticking over in their favour.
Point Guard Zasimauskas also started to dictate the pace and flow of the game: he was linking play well and chipping in with some valuable points.
Glasgow just about managed to hang on and went into the break with the score at 42–53.
Glasgow dominated the start of the third quarter, but they were soon punished again by the slick play of Stirling’s Lodge and Scott.
Glasgow seemed to lack this confidence on the ball, whilst the devastating nature of the pair consistently tore Glasgow apart. The quarter ended with the scores at 61-70.
The fourth quarter saw an early two-pointer from Glasgow help to peg the gap and saw the start of an incredibly determined comeback.
Stirling’s Scott was again driving at Glasgow’s weak defence, but the home team had a renewed vigour and seemed to grow stronger the longer the game went on.
They kept some of their strongest basketball until the final quarter, and it very much belonged to Kemptys, Mraz and Zasimauskas. The Glasgow trio linked up well to score points and they completely dominated Stirling. They brought some much needed fight as they battled for every inch of the court.
Stirling managed to get two more points, as did Glasgow, who were keeping possession well, passing the ball left to right, trying to find a way through to Stirling’s basket. Their patience and build-up play paid off as they managed a valuable three-pointer to bring the score to 78-79.
Then Glasgow’s luck broke when they received a foul and two free throws, and they managed to score both, bringing the game to 80-79.
This was followed by another quick foul by capitulating Stirling, to leave the final score 82-79.
Glasgow clinched this opening game with a tenacious display. If they carry this ethos with them, then they will surely be a force to reckon with this season.