Paean to Richard Bohne

I can remember seeing Richard Bohne play. More than seeing him play, though, I remember how he filled the Jack Simpson Gymnasium with screaming fans. The only Dinos events to come close since, have been various volleyball Dino Cups, but the excitement generated by Bohne hasn’t been duplicated.

Richard Bohne’s jersey–number 11–will be retired at a ceremony between Saturday’s men’s and women’s basketball games. It will be only the third jersey ever retired by the Dinos, joining those of football player Greg Vavra and fellow basketball player Karl Tilleman.

"It’s the ultimate honour, I guess," said Bohne." There’s no higher honour you can receive."

If there is a higher honour, it would be an induction into the University of Calgary sports hall of fame. Vavra and Tilleman, incidentally, were among the hall’s inaugural inductees in 1995, virtually assuring Bohne of his own induction.

Bohne joined the Dinos in 1992, after returning home to southern Alberta from his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He had played for Utah’s Dixie College prior to the mission, leaving him with four years of eligibility with the Dinos, during which he easily passed the Dinos’ previous record of 2,090 points, which Tilleman set over five seasons.

It would be next to impossible to cite the astounding number of feats Bohne accomplished with the Dinos. He scored 2,171 points in 79 games over four seasons with the Dinos. He set a Canada West record in 1995, scoring 64 points in a 110-107 loss to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. In 1996, he capped off a career replete with all-star team selections by winning the Mike Moser Memorial Trophy as the top men’s basketball player in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union.

For his first three seasons at the U of C, Bohne was coached by Gary Howard, who was initially responsible for bringing Bohne to the U of C. Howard retired in 1995, but has since returned as an assistant to head coach Cory Russell. When he speaks about Bohne, his respect for the player is obvious.

"I had the good fortune to coach Richard for three years. He was one of the most highly skilled players I ever recruited. He came and played with an extreme tenacity."

While Bohne was best-known for his scoring feats, he could also pick up a few assists. "The thing I’m most proud of are my nine assists and zero turnovers. It was the whole team that helped me get all those points," he said, after scoring those 64 points against UBC.

"We knew Rich was going to get 20 points a night," says Howard, "but he could get other people points, too. He was a great passer."

Of all the players who took the court alongside Bohne, perhaps none benefitted more than Craig Newman. Newman was a four-year starter with the Dinos who wrapped up his career alongside Bohne in 1996. The two players complemented each other perfectly. Bohne was the speedy layup expert while Newman was in his element off the boards or outside the line. In the 1995/96 season, Bohne and Newman were the U of C’s Malone and Stockton, Gretzky and Kurri, or Montana and Rice. Appropriately, Newman will be among the speakers at the ceremony.

"[My teammates] were the ones who made it happen," acknowledges Bohne. "Hopefully as many will attend as possible."

According to Howard, Bohne turned into a great all-around player through hard work and dedication.

"He worked so hard. He’d spend extra time in the gym, working on his shooting and handling. That’s why I respect him so much. For him, it was more than a game, it was a way of life. It wasn’t a pastime, it was sacred. He loved to perform. He didn’t know the word defeat."

Howard was on the bench for what most–himself and Bohne included–would call Bohne’s greatest moments. One is the 64-point game, and the other is "The Shot."

The Dinos and University of Victoria Vikings were tied at one game apiece in the best-of-three Canada West semifinal. The score in the third game was tied 79-79. With five seconds remaining in the game, Jeff Smith pulled down a rebound and sent a pass to Bohne.

Bohne didn’t have time to get to the end of the court, so he stopped halfway and launched the ball. If you haven’t figured it out, the ball went through the hoop and the Dinos went to the Canada West final.

Following Howard’s retirement, the Dinos hired Russell as head coach. Russell had coached in the professional leagues, so he had seen a few very talented players. While he won’t deny that Bohne had talent, it was the player’s work ethic that made a real impact.

"My best recollection of Richard is that he was the best practice player I ever coached," states Russell. "I can’t think of a more flattering thing to say about him. He treated every practice as if it was the seventh game of the NBA finals. In my short time with him, that’s the one thing that stands out. As a result of that, he made my job easier."

Having a player like Bohne in the lineup improved the play of everyone on the roster.

"He made the other guys better," says Russell, "because he demanded that they perform at his level."

Only one Dino remains from the days when Richard Bohne wore number 11. Brad Gallup, incidentally, will be playing his last home game in U of C red immediately following the retirement ceremony. Gallup’s career overlapped that of Bohne in only one season: 1993-94. When asked about Bohne, Gallup, now the soft-spoken leader of a young Dinos squad is at a loss for words.

"He’s obviously very talented," Gallup manages to say. "He’s very competitive. He’d try hard every time he’d play. That’s the one thing that sticks out more than anything. He played hard all the time."

"He obviously knew he was better than anyone," adds Gallup, who remembers Bohne as a selfless teammate who never let his talent get to his head.

"I had to guard him in practice pretty much every day. That was a chore."

The Vancouver Grizzlies reportedly sent scouts to a few Dinos games during Bohne’s final season, but nothing ever came of it. Bohne played some professional basketball in France, then came back and finished his Psychology degree.

Last season, he tried his hand at coaching, helping Springbank High School to third place in the 3A provincial finals. He currently resides in Pocatello, Idaho, where he is completing his Master’s in Sports Administration. He’ll finish that program in June. There is a possibility that he’ll be returning to Calgary next year. Mount Royal College needs a new head coach for their men’s basketball team, and Bohne has put his hat in the ring.

The jersey retirement ceremony will take place in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium on Saturday, immediately following the women’s game, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

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