By Jan Creaser
Anyone who followed the Dinos’ men’s basketball team over the past few years knows the team has not met with much success. However, with a new head coach at the helm, anything is possible–including an improvement in the team’s record.
Dan Vanhooren took charge of the team in May, making a move up from coaching in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference–where he was recently named "Coach of the Year"–to the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union and Canada West conference. Vanhooren, who taught full-time at Medicine Hat College while coaching their men’s team, exhibits a straightforward approach regarding his new position.
"I was excited to come here," he said, lounging comfortably in his new office. "Just coaching is going to be an interesting change because I’m going to be able to focus all my efforts on one thing."
Vanhooren’s take on the Dinos’ lack of success also points to some of his goals for building the team. To him, a combination of factors, such as recruiting, team cohesion and how the coach gets along with the players, can all contribute to poor performance.
"I don’t know that you can point a finger at any one thing," he explained. "But there certainly are a number of factors that go into having records for several years that aren’t good."
Based on this knowledge, the new head coach has several plans, both immediate and long-term, for helping the Dinos rebuild.
"At this point, we’re doing some recruiting," he said. "We’re trying to get some younger blood who, in the next few years, will be able to be key players. Over the summer, hopefully, I’ll be able to spend some time with some of the guys on the line and help them develop the skills we’d like to them have."
University of Calgary Athletics Director Don Wilson cited "youth and enthusiasm" as the two biggest personal strengths Vanhooren brings to the men’s basketball program.
"As well, the other trait he brings to the table is an ability to recruit successfully in Calgary and Southern Alberta," said Wilson. "He can bring in players from Red Deer to the U.S. border."
Vanhooren’s main goal this summer is to get as comfortable as possible. He’s responsible for hiring a new assistant coach and other members of the coaching team that will shape the players and the program here at the U of C.
"I think the players will be affected positively by the change," he said. "They’re excited; you have a coach that’s excited. The common phrase in coaching is to try and start every year like it’s your first year coaching."
With clear goals and over 10 years of experience coaching basketball, there’s no doubt Vanhooren will lead the team to a new level of performance. Overall, an obvious key to any future Dinos’ men’s basketball success might simply lie in the new coach’s commitment.
"I think I’d just like to be able to look in the mirror and say I’ve done everything I can to try and help the team get better."
Fans can get a glimpse of how the Dinos will perform under their new coach when the team plays Montana Tech in an exhibition series on Oct. 20-21.