WE’VE seen a miracle on ice, how about a miracle on hardwood?
If Illawarra Hawks coach Rob Beveridge can lead Scotland to the unlikeliest of unlikely victories over Australia in Saturday’s Commonwealth Games semi-final, it would be something akin to Herb Brooks’ effort at the 1980 Olympics.
That was the year a bunch of US college students dethroned the seemingly unbeatable Soviets in the medal rounds en route the a gold medal. Scotland will face a strikingly similar challenge when they take on a red-hot Boomers outfit on Saturday.
Having taken the reins just prior to the Games, a frank Beveridge admits he could not have imagined the run, that’s put them within touching distance of a medal.
“Absolutely no chance, just from a lack of preparation.” Beveridge said when asked if he anticipated such a run.
“When I got there and I looked at it, I had four professional players, four semi-professional and four 18-19-year old rookies who were like a deer in headlights.
“To be able to mix this group together in such a short period of time and instill belief that they can do it, it’s just blown me away.
“The nation of Scotland is going nuts, we’re on BBC, we’re on all the mainstream media and everyone’s talking about us. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
On a limited preparation there was little time to huddle around the offensive whiteboard, with Beveridge focusing his efforts on putting some defensive steel in the Scots.
“I thought if I could instill anything it was attitude to the defensive side of things,” Beveridge said.
“Offensively they already ran a lot of similar things that I run, so I’ve just added a little bit of spice here and there and they’ve loved it.
“Defensively I knew I could get in and a make changes. I’ve basically made it a defensive clinic and with all their energy and enthusiasm and passion they’ve embraced it.
“I think we’ve outplayed most teams purely because of the heart and soul of the group and how they’ve bought in and done everything I’ve asked them to do.”
Scotland’s 4-0 run has included upset wins over England and Nigeria, but Beveridge said it was the 12-point win over ‘big brother’ that proved the pivotal moment of their campaign.
“ It was the first time since 1977 that we’ve beaten England,” Beveridge said.
“We played three pre-Games trials against QBL sides and won them so we had some confidence, but beating England was the biggest scalp.
“They had 12 pros, big athletic guys. When we beat them we realised ‘hey we can beat these other teams to’. It’s really snow-balled from there.”
It sets up Saturday’s David an Goliath battle with the Boomers and, having shifted to the “circus” that is the Games Village, Beveridge has put most of his efforts into bringing his side down from their cloud.
“We’ve just come from an environment where it was closed,’ Beveridge said.
“We were in Townsville and Cairns, so it was easy to stay focused. Now we’re in the village with all the distractions that come with it so we’re just trying to keep our feet on the ground.
“We know to beat Australia in Australia… it’s going to be almost a miracle to do that but I just need to keep our guys focused and believing.
“We’ve already made history with everything we’ve done here but we can still win a medal. We need to make sure we fight it out to the end, and I know the guys will.”