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Onwards and Upwards: Angus Glover Returns to Action

Written for nbl.com.au by Tom Hersz

 

While the story seems familiar, this one feels different.

After another major injury setback, Angus Glover returned to action on Saturday as the Sydney Kings opened their NBL Blitz campaign. 

Glover injured his right knee in late January against the Cairns Taipans. For the talented 22-year-old, it was the latest setback in a young career disrupted by multiple knee injuries. After three previous ACL tears, Glover had finally returned to health in #NBL20 with his hometown Illawarra Hawks.

Making the move north up the M1 to the Sydney Kings for #NBL21, Glover was in just his second game with his new team when he went down with that latest injury. After fearing the worst, Glover’s diagnosis was not another ACL tear and he began to work his way back.

On Saturday night, he started for the new look Sydney Kings under Chase Buford and he was glad to get that one out of the way.

“I was pretty anxious to be honest,” admitted Glover when speaking with NBL Media post-game. 

“When you haven’t played a game in ten months and, I think just knowing I was getting the start kind of meant a bit more nerves for me, but once I got to the stadium, those nerves turned to excitement. 

“It was good to get out there again. I thought I was going to play terrible to be honest, but just happy to be able to contribute a little bit. That was a good first hit out for our team and can only build from there.”

Glover played 24 minutes and had a solid showing with eight points, seven boards, two assists and hitting two triples. He looked fast, explosive and determined. He was locked in defensively and pushed the ball in transition the other way. But most of all, he was having fun out there. 

He got into a little shoving match with Zhou Qi at one point, not backing down. He was playfully jawing with Ryan Broekhoff. And it was obvious that he was just enjoying the moment. After a 10-month wait, who could blame him? And he was pretty happy with how his return performance went.

 

 

“For 10 months and being as anxious as I was throughout the week, I thought I was pretty good to be honest,” said Glover. 

“Obviously there are still things I can work on, but it’s the baseline for me and pretty happy to get that one out of the way. Onwards and upwards now really.”

Glover is in a good place mentally. He’s had a long time to get over that latest injury, attack his rehab and believe in himself again. His self-belief is strong, he’s determined to get his career back on track and he has the full support of his new coaching staff and his teammates.

But Glover wasn’t always in this frame of mind. As you can imagine, in the immediate aftermath of that latest injury in January, he thought his career may be over. Not sure what the injury was, he actually believed it was something other than another ACL tear. But as they started to test him and determined it was his knee and a possible ACL injury, reality set in. 

Would he be able to mentally handle the rehab process again? Would his mind allow him to ever feel safe on the court, even if he did make it back? 

Glover was in a fairly dark place for a few days and leaned heavily on family, friends and teammates.

“That one was a bit tricky to be honest,” Glover explained. 

“It was weird, I thought I’d originally broken my leg at the time and obviously went back and did the tests, got the scans done. There was a little fracture on the side, but obviously I was very lucky. 

“It was one of those ones where it was like kind of holding my breath, ‘is my career done?’. 

“I can’t thank, obviously our physios at Zone 34, all the owners, like Paul [Smith], Bogues [Andrew Bogut], Chris [Pongrass], everyone; to do the things that they did for me to get me back on court. They went above and beyond.”

Having been through several lengthy rehab processes, Glover knew what to expect and knew what kind of mentality was required. So did he approach this one any differently as a result?

“Yes and No,” he confessed. 

“Yes, because I know how lucky I was because I thought it was an ACL, so I know how lucky I was to escape doing that. I attacked all my rehab the exact same on other knees – 110% – but this one kind of meant a bit more to me. Because, just to have the faith of the club still on my side, willing to do anything to help me get back on court and all that. 

“At times obviously it was tough, but this one, definitely I put so much more into it. I was willing to do extras on the previous ones as well, but this one I was champing at the bit, like ‘let me go’. 

“I really wanted to get back and be better than what I was before with my movement patterns and things like that. That was my mindset with the rehab.”

Glover did attack his rehab and was feeling good by the time the NBL regular season finished, even back on the training court a little with the team. Glover had signed with Eltham in the NBL1 in 2020 before COVID-19 saw the season cancelled and he was considering re-joining them this year, but ultimately decided to stay closer to home.

 

 

He was set to play for Sutherland in the Waratah League instead, which would have been a great way to slowly ramp back up after nearly six months off. Unfortunately, he never got to play a single minute as the NSW lockdown hit on the eve of his first game. 

All that rehab complete, Glover was itching to get back on the court to play again, but would have to wait for the NBL season to do so. To say he was frustrated would be an understatement.

“Yeah that was pretty brutal to be honest,” admitted Glover. 

“I think I was going home on the Friday, because my first game was actually against Illawarra and I was playing for Sutherland in the Waratah League. So, I was going to spend the night at Mum and Dad’s the night before. 

“Normally I listen to music on the way down and back on those trips, but I had the radio on and that was actually quite lucky, cos on the radio it was announced that the lockdown was happening, so I just turned around and went back and the game got cancelled. 

“I was more excited at the time for that game because it wasn’t NBL level, so I knew I could enjoy it a lot more and just go out and have fun. Obviously, I had fun tonight and enjoyed it, but it’s just a different level where you can ease back into it. 

“But that was a weird 24 hours if I’m being completely honest, knowing I was playing, then being told ‘Nup, lockdown. Game’s cancelled. Go home.’ 

“It was a bit bizarre.”

Some four months later, Glover finally got to lace them up for a real game on Saturday against South East Melbourne. After playing just two games last season and waiting nearly 10 months in total, it certainly meant a lot to him to finally get to play again.

“Man, it meant the world really,” said Glover. 

“I’ve said that on all my injuries, but like I said before, knowing how close I was to doing my knee again, and to think it was ten months earlier that my career was in jeopardy, to be able to step back on the court, words can’t really describe what that meant to me tonight. 

“All the boys were trying to relax me and they got around me, so it was really good to have them there and do it with them.”

And it wasn’t only his Kings teammates that have been getting around him. Players around the league have reached out to him since he first injured himself in January to offer support and encouragement. That continued on Saturday at MSAC as opposition players were happy for Glover. 

He has a lot of support and lot of people were rooting for the talented youngster to overcome this latest obstacle and try to fulfil the promise he’s shown in the past.

“It means a lot,” Glover acknowledged. 

“To have Rowdy [Ryan Broekhoff] during the game and after the game to say how good it was to see me back on court, that was really special. To know that I’m in the minds of people all around the league, it really does mean a lot to me. 

“Obviously thanks to all of them for reaching out to me during that time, and it was nice to know that people do think of me.”

With that first game under his belt, Glover will now turn his attention to what he needs to do to prepare for this season. He expects to have a meaningful rotation role under Chase Buford and, whether starting or not, wants to make the most of these games at the Blitz, so he’ll be ready to attack when Round 1 tips off.

“Just [to] keep getting better,” he said of his focus for the remainder of the Blitz. 

“Obviously, that was our first hit out as a team, but just to continue to improve and know that that was my baseline tonight. And keep being aggressive. 

“I think a big strength of mine is getting downhill, playing in transition and putting heat on the rim. So, I just want to keep being able to do that. One thing I think I can really help with is rebounding, whether that’s offensively or defensively I just need to keep working on that. 

“I think just continue to improve which is what everyone says, but at the end of the day, for me, being out for ten months and then playing the way I played tonight, I’ve just got to work off that and keep getting better.”

Glover has high hopes for what he can achieve this season. While not trying to make up for lost time, he does want to prove to people – but mostly to himself – that he can get back on the trajectory he would have been on if not for this latest injury setback.

After being selected for the 2017 Nike Hoops Summit, and having a taste in a Boomers jersey last year, he still has a very bright future. He is still just 22 years old and has a lot of basketball left in him, so this season is really important for him to try to establish himself in the way he wants to play.

That starts with how he can best help the Kings this season.

“Obviously, with my defence, I think I’ll put a lot of pressure on the ball, look to rebound a fair bit and Chase is just telling me to ‘keep attacking, attacking, attacking,’” he explained. 

“We’re still finding our roles at the moment, but I know my role is to keep attacking downhill, whether that’s finding the open guy or finishing at the rim, just keep attacking. 

“And down the other end, Chase has a big emphasis on defence and all five guys rebounding, so I think I can definitely help in that area with my athleticism and my ability to defend.”

That athleticism is something Glover has been known for and given all the injuries, some assume he’s lost some of that, so when I ask Glover what we might see from him in #NBL22 that could surprise some people, naturally that comes up.

“Great question. A lot of people ask me, ‘are we going to see dunks?’, but I think I’ll surprise some people with my athleticism still,” Glover said. 

“When you’ve done the amount of knee injuries that I have, people think you’ll lose athleticism. But I’d like to think I’m still as athletic as ever and hopefully dunk on some people throughout the year.

“But just how I’ve gone about my business and obviously the last time people saw me play for a whole season was in Illawarra, so a lot has changed between now and then. 

“I’ve matured as a person and as a player, so I think that’s a really good question. Because, other than people asking if I’m going to catch some bodies this year, it’s hard to pick something, especially after only playing one game. So, I might have to come back to you on that one.”

That maturation off the court has helped Glover have perspective. He is very self-aware and also extremely focussed on how this team can best succeed. And to do that, to live up to the hype that is surrounding this team as one of the pre-season favourites, Glover will need to play a significant role. But this team also needs to continue to come together and connect.

 

 

So, using the Blitz as a springboard or building block for the regular season is really important.

“We don’t read into any of the pre-season hype or if we’re favourites or not,” Glover declared. 

“We’ve got a job to do. No matter if you’re the favourites or not, everyone has a job to do and that’s to come in and win games of basketball. So, I think using the Blitz as a platform to help us improve and get to know each other a bit better on the court, because we’ve obviously only practiced against ourselves. 

“We want to continue to build our relationships and build our chemistry on the court. We definitely took a big step forward with that tonight, I thought. Like I said before, you’ve got to continue to improve and look at things to work on, but at the same time just keep continuing to get better and get ready for Monday. 

“But this time as well, it’s not so much about the scout, it’s about us having our foundations set on defence, on offence and just worrying about ourselves right now.”

No longer worried about his own path back, Glover is now locked in on helping this team achieve their goals. Onwards and upwards.

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