Fifth-year forward Drazen “Dre” Glisic of the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team has been recognized throughout his university basketball career for both his athletic and academic abilities.
Glisic, who graduated last year with a degree in Phys. Ed. and has finished up his last season with the Blues, will be greatly missed by the team.
Glisic started his basketball career at a young age. “I was in grade 5 or 6, and I started playing at a community centre — it was the only place in my area… My dad played semi-pro in [former] Yugoslavia, so that was a big influence as well, seeing pictures of him playing.”
Playing at university level has long been a dream for Glisic, who was born in Sarajevo, in present-day Bosnia, and raised in Toronto. “I think I always played to keep playing, throughout school and throughout rep. Playing as long as I could was always a goal of mine, for sure.”
When Glisic was in high school, his hope became a reality when the University of Toronto men’s basketball program took notice of his strong play. “They scouted me in grade 11, they came and saw a tournament, and I talked to the coaches. And then grade 12, a coach came and saw me play.
“I contacted them and I came out [to U of T]… and just played. They worked me out, and then that day they asked me if I would come [play for the Blues].”
Glisic didn’t see many minutes in his rookie season, and while this may have frustrated many players, the future Blues captain took a more positive attitude: “They told me straight out I wouldn’t play much; I was okay with that. I figured I would have to work hard, improve my game, and see where it went, so my expectations were very small. Just being part of the team was great for me.”
The Blues’ playoff performance that season was disappointing since the team, ranked fifth by CIS, was eliminated in the OUA semifinal by the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
In his second year, Glisic was given more playing time, and he didn’t disappoint, leading the team in field goal and free throw percentages. “I was happy to be playing, contributing to the team,” said Glisic. “It was a great feeling.”
That same year, Glisic’s successful academic career was recognized as well, and he was awarded the Basketball Award of Merit. But Glisic’s personal success was overshadowed by another frustrating post-season loss for the Blues, as they fell to the rival Ottawa Gee-Gees once more.
Glisic saw his minutes on the court increase drastically in his third season at U of T, as he was chosen to start for the Blues. Again, Glisic’s productivity increased, and he was ranked second in the OUA in field goal percentage, eighth in the conference in rebounding, and first on the team with 25 blocks.
His basketball success was accompanied by off-court recognition, as Glisic received the Dr. Ronald Sternberg award of merit, awarded to a Blues player who demonstrates good academics, athletics, and leadership on the court. Glisic’s strong academic performance was also recognized by the CIS, as he was named a CIS Academic All-Canadian.
Yet again, however, the team had an unsuccessful post-season, as the Blues were eliminated in the OUA East quarterfinals.
With 13 points per game in his fourth season, Glisic continued to improve. The Blues, however, did not; the team was eliminated for the third time in four years by the Ottawa Gee-Gees. “It’s frustrating losing to them,” said Glisic. “I mean, you don’t want to lose to anyone, but seeing them over and over again, losing to them, was always tough.”
Fortunately, the Blues final position did not stop the OUA from recognizing Glisic’s great play, and he was named a second-team OUA all-star.
This year, Glisic’s fifth, he was named co-captain along with Andrew Wasik by the coaching team. Glisic’s role as captain has not been a vocal one, though. “I think the guys know I’m a ‘lead-by-example’ guy. I don’t like talking much in the game, I just like to go out there and play, that’s what I’m here for. It’s different, being captain at this level, but it’s been a good experience.”
The Blues ended their regular season triumphantly this year with a win over the Gee-Gees, a game in which Glisic scored 15 points and a game-high nine boards. But that success did not transfer over to the post-season; the Blues lost in the OUA East quarterfinals, this time to the Laurentian Voyageurs, once again ending the year in frustrating fashion.
The short playoff runs that have plagued the Blues during Glisic’s time on the team should not, however, be allowed to obscure his individual success. Glisic, whose next goal is to attain a master’s degree in biomechanics, has been an extremely impressive athlete and academic during his time on the team.
“Dre is one of the best people we have ever had associated with our program,” said Blues assistant coach Mike De Giorgio. “It’s very rare that you get a guy that never lets emotion get the best of him and is constantly giving his all.
“His work ethic and attitude made our team better every day, and he has had a huge role in the success that our team has achieved over his five years.”
So what will this the Blues basketball star miss about playing for U of T? “Teammates would probably be number one, and then the competition. I love basketball. There’s a hole in my life right now — I’m going to miss it.
“But teammates would be first; the friends I’ve made, just hanging out with those guys every day, every weekend. It was an amazing experience.”