The final buzzer has rung on university basketball, closing a season filled with drama. Injuries, buzzer-beaters, potential relegation and promotion; Stirling has certainly had an eventful year.
It was a slow start for both teams. Stirling’s 1st in particular had a weary beginning, losing five straight games. Results were varied, with losses spanning from blowouts to bitterly close calls.
This made the season’s latter half even more impressive as the team donned a winning record, winning three of their final five games.
And more may have been claimed, but 1st team captain Owain Clark was struck with injury early into semester two. Landing awkwardly after contesting a shot, Clark rolled and broke his ankle.
Despite the late success, Stirling’s league position was determined in the final moment. Three teams danced around the relegation zone, but a last-minute upset from Edinburgh saw Stirling drop to the dreaded position.
The 2nd team played to a similar narrative early on, holding more losses than wins in semester one. Two of these defeats were incredibly close though, with just two possessions determining each game.
The record didn’t reflect effort, but remaining determined, the 2nd team returned after winter-break and conquered their competition.
Both home and away, Stirling overcame each opponent and remained undefeated throughout the entire semester. The incredible performance progressed the team to top of the league.
The 2nd’s grit was personified with a single shot from captain Ryan Travers. In the closing moments of a brutally close match against Glasgow Caledonian, Travers shot a three-pointer as the buzzer made its final call.
The ball splashed through the basket, giving Stirling the win (and perhaps the confidence to continue their hot-streak to the season’s end).
“It’s exciting to be part of the 2nd’s,” says Craig Stephen, president of men’s basketball. Interest in the 2nd team dwindled as the season began, he explains, but now there’s no doubts of the team’s prowess.
Work has been put in off the court as well, as the club aimed to engage past, present, and future members.
In (definitely not) official partnership with the NBA, Stirling hosted its own All-Star weekend, featuring an open-scrimmage, games of horse, and a three-point contest.
The club also hosted a three-on-three tournament later in the semester, and closed out the year with an alumni night.
Engagement off the court, partnered with progression on it, will all breed determination next year, Stephen hopes.
“I would love to see optimism, enthusiasm, and drive,” he says; creating a buzz around basketball is essential, but so is establishing a winning-mentality.
“We all enjoy playing basketball, but at the end of the day you have to want to win.”
The exact future of men’s basketball is currently unclear, as both teams are destined for the same division. The 1st are due relegation into the 4A, while the 2nd are to be promoted into it.
Stephen doesn’t expect BUCS to allow both teams into the same league, so it’s currently unclear where each will end up.
Players may have an opportunity to play for both regardless, as another focus for next year will be fluidity between teams, as opposed to set-in-stone rosters that don’t allow change.
“It doesn’t work,” says Stephen, but having more flexible team-sheets will allow critical adaption and motivation to perform.
The biggest mix-up next year will come through the unification of men’s and women’s basketball into one club. It will allow for a fresh, combined front, allowing members to “come together and better basketball at the university.”
With myriad new initiatives atop a strong, combined club, there’s an electric atmosphere surrounding the future of Stirling University basketball.
We’re bringing you season summary pieces for sports teams all across the university, so check back at 2PM every day for another edition of Bleed Green Round-Up.