Gleeson has taken over as coach of the Perth Wildcats for the 2013/14 NBL season from the popular and respected Rob Beveridge with expectations of at least being able to match the three grand final appearances over the last four years, or getting the 'Cats to a record-extending sixth championship.
However, coaching in Perth has not been something that Gleeson has previously enjoyed while in charge of both the Townsville Crocodiles and Melbourne Tigers – apart from one memorable occasion.
Gleeson was in charge during the memorable playoff clash at Challenge Stadium in 2009 when he coached the Crocs to a win on one of the most emotionally charged nights in modern NBL history.
The Wildcats were warm favourites at home, but sharpshooter John Rillie had one of the best shooting nights in NBL history hitting 10 three-pointers while Corey 'Homicide' Williams led the team despite having 4000 fans calling for his blood, before and after the game.
Gleeson led the Crocs to that memorable win that ultimately ushered in the Beveridge era at the Wildcats with Conner Henry fired immediately after, and was also his last victory in Perth as an opposition coach.
Following that loss, Beveridge arrived to coach the Wildcats with Kevin Lisch coming on board as the star import with the result being a championship, two losing grand finals and a losing semi-final appearance over the last four years.
That leaves Gleeson with a lot to live up to coming in as the new coach, but the best thing for him about the season-opening win on Friday night over the Adelaide 36ers was that he finally got another win in Perth.
Since the 2009 playoffs, Gleeson didn’t have much luck in Perth firstly in charge of the Crocs with losses in the 2009/10 season by five and 19 points, and then in 2010/11 by 26 and 20 including Gleeson being ejected from one game when a referee bumped into him on the sideline.
Gleeson then left the Crocs to return to his home state and coach the Melbourne Tigers for just the one season which included 16 and five-point losses at Challenge Stadium against the Wildcats.
Following a year out of coaching in the NBL, Gleeson is back in the league at the helm of the Wildcats and he saw the Perth Arena for the first time on Friday night as the 'Cats won a tight battle by three points over the 36ers.
Gleeson was obviously glad to finally have the Perth crowd behind him for a change after copping their taunts for years, and he was in awe of the 10,000 fans at the Perth Arena.
"Yes it's my first win since that night, with Corey and the top, so it was quite pleasing to get the win in the end. We had to grind it out but it was good," Gleeson said.
"It's amazing out there. It is mind boggling when you look right at the back and see all the people, and I thought the crowd was fantastic.
"They responded well and we do still have to iron some problems out and we'll get better as we go along, and they supported us fantastically going down the stretch."
Along with Gleeson replacing Beveridge as coach, the other major change for the Wildcats in 2013/14 is that Lisch has moved on with the NBA-contracted James Ennis filling in as the club's main drawcard.
He starred on Friday night with 25 points but it could have been far different after he picked up three fouls early.
"When he got to three fouls in the first half I was thinking golly. He was falling over and falling over other people, but James is an outstanding athlete and player, and I was happy the team was able to get him the ball at great spots," Gleeson said.
"He got some good looks and he probably does need to attack the basket a little bit more but they were hanging off him so that opened up different avenues for him. I thought it was an outstanding debut."
For Ennis himself, it was the first time he played in such a big crowd in his career and he enjoyed the experience.
"It was a great experience. It's the first time I've played in front of 10,000 people and it's The Jungle. I was excited and had a few butterflies at the beginning, but once they settled down I started getting more comfortable with my game," Ennis said.
"Coach always tells me to use my length and stay back on defence, and not overplay them to get contact fouls, so I tried to do that more in the second half after I picked up the three fouls.
"At practice our main focus is on building our team chemistry because that's what you need to go to the championship, and we are doing a good job at it."
Three players remaining from the Wildcats championship team of 2009/10 are Shawn Redhage, Jesse Wagstaff and Damian Martin, and all three were pivotal in the win over the Sixers.
Redhage hit the game-sealing shot, Wagstaff 15 points including two crucial final quarter three-pointers and Martin kept Adelaide point guard Gary Ervin scoreless in the second half.
"Shawn has been doing that for a number of years and when you think he's out of it, and he will be the first to say he didn’t have a great game, when the crunch comes you don’t want the ball in anyone else's hand and he's done that a number of times in this league," Gleeson said.
"He (Wagstaff) was outstanding. He got some clean looks because they were really inviting him to take the three, and Jesse nailed a couple of important ones. I was very pleased and he has been working hard over the pre-season so I was hoping he had a great game.
"Damo was outstanding. He played him straight up and didn’t give him anything easy. The help side defence was really good too to collapse on him and force him to his left side. Damo is pretty crafty and you don’t win Defensive Player of the Year awards for nothing, and he certainly stepped up when it counted."
Perth now remains home this Friday night to take on a Sydney Kings team that made the playoffs last season and pushed the eventual champion New Zealand Breakers, and got an opening round win on Sunday against the Melbourne Tigers.
Gleeson's full focus is on hosting the Kings on Friday even though the Wildcats then head straight to Melbourne to also face the Tigers on Sunday.
"We just worry about Friday night, that's all our focus is on right now. Hopefully we will improve during the week and put a better performance on back here against Sydney," Gleeson said.
"We are all about the next game. We can't get in front of ourselves because it's a long season and every win is going to count. We just have to worry about ourselves and executing better defensively. Our defence was a step slow from where we want it to be so we have enough problems to fix ourselves before we worry about other teams."