Men’s Basketball

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. While there were a few off-season acquisitions by the University of Calgary men’s basketball program, the key to their summer was the time off–time to
heal.

With last season seeing starters falling faster than shares of Nortel, the team limped through the last few weeks to a gutsy, yet disappointing, 8-14 record. Our prehistoric predators received some harsh words from the media and were reluctantly forced to lick their wounds and think about next year.

Funny how time flies. Next year is upon us already.

Despite the loss of sparkplug forward Chris Harris to the practice roster for the 2001/02 campaign–the result of a knee injury late last season–and the departure of his front court partner-in-crime Wes Jickling, the Dinos are looking good. Add a year of experience, then subtract the bandages, crutches and daily physiotherapy, and they can’t help but be better off.

Heading into the season, the backcourt is definitely the Dinos’ dominant domain. When the always prolific John Riad and last year’s rookie phenom Whit Hornsberger are coupled with sharp shooters Jeff Loomis and Kurt Schoendorfer (expected to return from injury by mid-season), no team in Canada West is safe. Added to the mix are the versatile Adam Begley, a natural shooting guard with experience at the point, and Mark Gillirie, a six-foot-five point guard who transferred from Malaspina College in Nanaimo, B.C., over the off-season. This is a sextet that can take control and never relinquish it–especially since they’ve all got two knees this year.

Moving in from the three point arc, things get a bit dodgy. Huge holes are left down low by the loss of Jickling and Harris. But the lethal perimeter threat should make life a little easier for the big men, giving them some breathing room on most nights. This is especially helpful to smaller forwards like Sean Patterson, John Woods and even Loomis–should he get some time up front. The little big man Andy Strodeur has to play as gritty as ever while Rich Weibach and newly acquired seven-footer Brent Laycock need to assert their authority down low and dominate the glass.

The biggest front court question mark is rookie Chris Wright, a product of William Aberhart High School here in Calgary. Wright is a six-foot-seven forward who did it all in high school and is highly regarded by Vanhooren. Dominant in high school last year, with 23.5 points and 14 boards per game, a stellar rookie year for Wright would be just what the doctor ordered.

All in all, the Dinos come into this year looking a lot better than the squad that hobbled off the court last season. With John Riad already among the conference’s offensive elite and Whit Hornsberger poised to join him, putting points on the board shouldn’t be a problem. Defense is iffy, especially judging by some of the mental lapses last year, but time to develop chemistry and gel as a squad without constant lineup changes due to injuries should do wonders to turn their fortunes around.

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