Success for Donna Finnie in Houston

Donna Finnie
Donna Finnie
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St Augustine’s FP Donna Finnie, Scotland’s gold medal-winning European junior women’s coach before leaving for the United States, has made a remarkable start to her reign as the Head Women’s Coach of Houston Baptist University in Texas.

Her team has won all three home games so far, including two against colleges HBU had never beaten before.

Losing 82-70 away to Texas Southern last week, HBU returned home to beat South Utah 88-77 with Scottish internationalist Erin McGarrachan scoing 12 points.

McGarrachan really hit the high spots in their latest game, an 85-68 defeat by Sam Houston State, who Finnie expected to be tough.

But McGarrachan emerged with a college career-high of 21 points plus eight rebounds and she hit a jumper just on half-time to narrow the gap to 34-36.

The HBU road trip continues with games against Jackson State tonight and South Alabama on Monday.

Before then they face one of the biggest names in the women’s sport when they travel to Waco to play Baylor.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s new Head of Performance Basketball, Barry Lang, who is already relishing his new job, is in for a busy summer in 2014, with his national teams in action all over Europe.

This may be the last year that the Scottish senior teams compete at Euro C level, which was always intended for so-called “small countries” but for which Scotland was given dispensation to participate.

Despite that, neither team has ever won the event and so there will be a lot of pressure on coach Iain Maclean, who goes to Gibraltar with the senior men from July 7-12 and coach Ben Gunn, who takes the senior women to Polten in Austria from July 14 to 19, to bow out on a winning note and return with gold.

Reinstated national junior men’s coach Doug Reilly, the Kings senior coach, will also be under pressure, not least from himself, as he again ventures into Euro B, in which Scotland failed to win a game last time.

Boroughmuir junior men’s coach Adrian Flynn has also been reappointed as junior women’s coach.

The cadette under-16 women, with coach Luis Romero, have been allowed to return to Euro C and will go to Malta from June 30 to July 5, while the cadet men, under their new coach, Perth’s Russell Kesson, heading for Euro B.

Gannon steps into breach

Mary Erskine FP Charlotte Gannon took over as player-coach this week when Glasgow University travelled to Aberdeen to face Robert Gordon without regular coach Quentin Fogg and with only seven players and squeezed a 43-41 win to keep them in contention for the Scottish Universities title.

Edinburgh are ineligible as they compete in the British Universities Premier North Division where they continue to show improvement.

Having lost 105-40 to Durham at the Pleasance in their first encounter, Edinburgh stayed with Durham on their home court in the first half and only trailed 28-16. But in the last quarter they slumped to a 76-27 final score.

Ritchie battles for fitness

Polonia’s international centre Julie Ritchie is struggling to regain full fitness after recovering from the ankle injury she picked up last month.

Now she has a back problem, though she hopes to be able to play against top rivals Glasgow Rocks at Cumbernauld on Sunday.