‘Horns stuff Dinos

The second half of the 1999/2000 season has been kind to the Dinos men’s basketball team. With a 3-1 record in their first four games of January, the playoffs have become a possibility again. Last weekend, the Dinos rolled south to Lethbridge with the faint hope of continuing their success, even though the Pronghorns were ranked first in the country and the Dinos were 4-8.

Surprise, surprise; the Dinos played a pair of competitive games against their venerable hosts. Although the Dinos lost both–by scores of 64-60 and 72-56–they held the ‘Horns well below their 84-points-per-game and shut down Canada West leading scorer Danny Balderson.

"We did okay," said coach Cory Russell. "We had a really good chance on Friday night, but we shot 63 per cent on free throws, and that hurt us. We couldn’t afford to do that, but in a four-point game against the best team in the country, you’ve got to like your chances."

Russell attributed the close score to the way the Dinos prevented the ‘Horns from gaining possession too often.

"We took care of the ball," he stated. "We only had 17 turnovers for the game, and they were pressing us, so that’s good."

The story in the second game was quite different.

"On Saturday, we had more turnovers at the half than we did for the game [on Friday]," noted Russell. "We didn’t shoot well either. We shot only 29 per cent in the first half. In spite of that, we were only down by 12."

Perhaps most remarkable was the way the Dinos shut down Lethbridge’s Danny Balderson, one of the top scorers in the country. On Saturday, Balderson scored only 10 points, despite playing 31 minutes.

"All out little guys, all our perimeter players, had a chance to guard him," enthused Russell. "All of them did a really nice job."

The Dinos’ top players on the weekend were Andy Stordeur and John Riad. On Friday, Riad scored 12 points, followed by Stordeur’s 11. Stordeur added six rebounds. On Saturday, they each scored 11 points and Stordeur matched the total in rebounds, all at the defensive end.

"I had a consistent weekend," stated Stordeur. "I had some good rebounds, and I was playing against bigger guys. Personally, I guess it was a good weekend, but it would have been nice to win."

Stordeur is well-traveled, considering he’s in only his second year of eligibility. He began his career as a redshirt with the University of Alberta, and played last year with the Medicine Hat College Rattlers.

"There are a lot of reasons [why I transferred]," said Stordeur. " I like coach Russell; I think he’s a really good coach. It’s a young team. The biggest reason is that we have the opportunity to do something special over the next two years, if not this year."

Obviously, Stordeur hasn’t given up on the playoffs yet.

"Not at all. We’re gonna be right there when the playoffs come. We’re gonna surprise a lot of teams. The second half has been good, and we’ll continue that into the playoffs"

The Dinos’ next stop is Brandon University, where they’ll try to knock off the Bobcats. Russell acknowledged that the ‘Cats will be tough to beat.

"They’re very, very talented," said Russell. "They have probably the best collection of talent in the country, but they haven’t been that consistent."

What is the Dinos’ plan?

"Beat their ass. We’re playing good enough defence to be in the game against anyone we play. It’s a matter of will we take care of the ball and will we shoot it."

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