After the team’s daily practice, I managed to catch up with Gareth Murray ahead of the Rocks’ road trip against the Sharks on Friday. It’s a must win game for the team who are hoping to progress to the semi-finals stages of the BBL Trophy. There is extra motivation for the team to do well in the competition with the final being played in the Emirates Arena, on the 9th of March. For tickets and more information, visit The Ticket Factory.
You seem to be playing with more confidence and more consistency this season. Do you agree with this statement, and if so, where has the increase in confidence came from?
Yeah, I agree with this statement, yeah. My confidence was always shaky and always up and down but this year I feel like I’m really playing confident this year because Sterling and the guys believe in what I do and what we do as a team so the confidence is there and I think we play well together. Nothing has really changed, I’ve always been a big confidence player and when I’m playing well and I’ve got confidence I don’t think anyone can stop me and that’s how the season has played out so far.
Are there any aspects of your game which you looked to have particularly improved on this season? If so, what and how do you feel you have achieved this?
I feel like I’ve played consistent throughout the whole season and other seasons as well. Now I think the game has really slowed down a lot for me, I can see things happening that maybe I didn’t see before, I’m getting more people involve. I’m getting more assists so my assists are up quite a lot this year compared to other seasons so I’m seeing what’s happening on the floor, I’m not rushing plays and I’m getting people involved in the game more.
There is a televised game coming up in February, do you feel additional pressure and how do you feel watching the playback?
I don’t feel any pressure at all; to me it’s just a regular game. It’s on TV which is good for other people that enjoy basketball to watch that but there’s no added pressure. Sometimes if you have a good game you always want to see how you played and the same goes when you have a bad game, you want to see your mistakes and what you can improve on.
You have a Trophy game tomorrow against Sheffield with the final being played in Glasgow. Is the fact that the final is in Glasgow an extra incentive to do well in this competition?
Yeah definitely because we want to play in our home court, that’s a great advantage playing on your home court in a final and you can’t really ask for anything better than that. We want to do well in every competition we play in so there is another incentive but we always want to reach the final, we always want to win things and that’s why we’re here. We’re not out here to just play basketball; we’re out here to win and to get to the final in Glasgow would be excellent, it would be great for us.
Gareth you’ve played in Braehead, Kelvin Hall and now The Emirates. How does this new arena compare with previous venues and others in the BBL?
This is a really excellent venue. I really enjoyed playing in Braehead when we were there and it was a nice venue but then it’s just something different when you moved to the Kelvin Hall, it was another good venue to play in, and it was like your home court so you treat it as that. It’s where you’re based and where you play your home games so then moving to the Emirates and it’s just an excellent facility. The main court is excellent, you can’t ask for any better. There’s no better court in the league and I’d probably say that in Europe as well, there’s not many courts better than this in Europe so playing here is excellent, it’s great.
How does playing for Scotland compare with playing for the Glasgow Rocks?
Playing for the Rocks and playing for Scotland are two different things. Playing for the Rocks there is more team basketball; it’s over a longer period, it’s over eight months so it’s a little bit different. You’re training every day and with the same guys every day and you feel like a family because you’re with them all the time. Playing for the Scotland team you’re only together for two or three months even though you know most of the guys from when you were younger and growing up playing with them, you’re only with them for two or three months at the most, you don’t play many games together so it’s difficult to get a good playing bond with these guys so there is a bit of a difference between the two.
Being a Rocks player you have strong involvement with the local community. How do you balance these commitments with training?
We have training in the morning so that’s out the way; you use most of your energy in the morning when you get a good practice in and then we’ve got all afternoon to do our community work which is good for the club, it builds the club up and it gets other people involved in basketball. A lot of people don’t really know there’s basketball in Glasgow or even in Scotland so it’s good to get out there and tell them who you are and what you do and teach other kids how to pay basketball and get them involved in different sports as well and get them active.
Many young Scottish basketball players look up to you and your achievements in the game. What advice would you give to youngsters who want to reach the next level?
You’ve got to work hard. Some people take it for granted. When I was younger I worked harder than I do now which is probably not a good thing but when I was younger I worked every day. I was playing basketball for four/five hours every day, I’d get up before school, I’d practice at lunch time, practice after school again. If you want to get better you’ve got to work hard, you’ve got to improve and you’ve got to learn. A lot of kids think they know everything already but you’ve got to listen. When coaches tell you something you listen to what they say because they’ve been around the game for a long time and have seen a lot of players and you’ve got to really work hard and listen to what they’re saying because they’re trying to help you out, they’re looking for your best interests.
How do you feel about the funding cuts that basketball has received recently?
I’ve read a little bit about it but the way I feel is that it’s a huge step back because you’ve seen how well the GB team did from where they started off, they weren’t ranked at all and how they’ve improved over the last five/six years with being in the European Championships and you can see the huge improvement that they’ve made so it is kind of a huge step back because there is no money for these guys to keep moving forward and for the younger talent to come through and step into their place and keep building on that improvement that they’ve made over the five or six years they’ve been involved.
Do you think that then puts a bit more onus on the British League to try and get clubs to pull in talent and develop it through themselves?
Yeah I always thought that it should be the same as how the football does it over here. They’ve got the youth teams and they just build them up and build them up until they get to senior level. That’s the way that the basketball should be done here, they do it in Europe. I don’t understand why they can’t do it here, it’s always a good way to start. Start when they’re young so they affiliate themselves with the one team and then build themselves up until they can get to the level where they can play senior level and professional level. Taking the money away, the BBL should step in and try to help out as much as they can and bring the kids in and be more involved but it is difficult, it’s all about money really.
Your stats this season have been a steady increase over the years, culminating in that you’re averaging 14.2 points a game now. Are you quite happy with how you’re performing this season?
Yeah I’m happy with the way I’m performing. I could probably score more points but, to me, it’s about winning games. I don’t care if a score 25 or 30 points a game, I’d prefer to win every single game. It doesn’t matter to me; it’s about getting people involved and playing as a team the way we have done these last two games. It’s not about how many points you score or who scores the points; if somebody sees that you’ve only scored 10 points do they notice everything else I do on the court? Did they see me get other people open? Did they see me get other people involved? To me it’s not all about scoring points and your statistics it’s all the other things that’s not on the stats sheet. It’s about getting people involved, encouraging people, getting people open. Not everybody can shoot the ball, there’s only one basketball and five people, and somebody’s got to get someone else open. It’s not all about scoring or setting another person up. There is more than that, it’s about playing together, playing as a team and working hard together.