WARRNAMBOOL basketball export Trevor Gleeson yesterday emerged with his reputation intact but without a job after a messy parting of the ways with national league club Melbourne Tigers.
The Tigers announced former great Chris Anstey as their new coach, ending weeks of speculation about Gleeson’s future.
The speculation was triggered by an “investigation” into Gleeson’s tenure, but club officials revealed it found nothing other than the coach’s “style” did not suit them. In a prepared statement, the club said the “investigation” concluded with Gleeson’s “record and reputation as a coach unblemished”.
Gleeson yesterday told The Standard the parting of company ended a tumultuous time.
“It’s been very taxing professionally and personally for family and friends with the wild accusations going around,” he said.
“I was an open book. I was very co-operative in everything and disappointed I won’t finish the three-year contract.”
Gleeson said he would stand by his coaching record, which saw him named the NBL’s coach of the year in 2010-11 when he took the Townsville Crocs to their fifth consecutive finals series. He left the Crocs with the highest winning percentage in the club’s 20-plus year history to take on the Tigers’ role.
The association started well but a series of events, including new management of the club, undermined Gleeson’s start to what was to have been three years in charge.
“When we had Patty Mills we were sitting first or second. We were a very strong team, but when he went and we couldn’t replace him and we a had a couple of injuries, our depth was showed up and we struggled,” Gleeson said.
“(Ayinde) Ubaka getting fired and having to find another import?.?.?.?this last season has been the hardest coaching year I’ve had in 17 years of being a head coach.
“It was a crazy year and now it’s finished even crazier.”
Gleeson, who signed a confidentiality agreement as part of his exit, said he was “disappointed” with the timing of his departure.
“Now all the coaching jobs are gone,” he said.
“It might be good to take a break from basketball or look overseas.
“That is something I will have to sit down with my family and discuss. Who knows, it might be the last time I coach or it might be I head back to the (United) States. My wife is from the the States.
“It’s been pretty tough. We’ve been through the wringer the last 12 months, with my wife’s battle with cancer.
“We took the job in good faith for three years and had to make some hard decisions. It’s disappointing.
“Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and get back up.”
Gleeson, who has two children under four with his wife Dawn, said he had been bouyed by the support he had received from fellow coaches and ex-players “in the know who knew what was going on”.
He said one of his biggest achievements with the Tigers related to his home town.
“To bring that (pre-season) game to Warrnambool, that was a dream of mine for many, many years to bring an NBL game to Warrnambool,” he said.
“We’ve just run a very successful camp down there with kids and it’s disappointing I won’t have the chance to build on those things.”
Tigers chief executive officer Larry Kestelman wished Gleeson well.
He said Gleeson had not breached his contract in any way.
“I think it was a question of investigating every aspect of his tenure here,” he said.”
Kestelman said Gleeson’s style was “not one that we would be comfortable with long-term”.
“He has a style that has worked very well for him, the way he goes about business, and it’s different to ours,” he said.