Finally, after so long

For the first time in ten years, the University of Calgary will play host to a Canada West Conference playoff game in men’s basketball.

Not since 1993 have the Dinos had the upper hand in a playoff series. In that time, the Dinos have had three different coaches. Not only will this be this be current Head Coach Dan Vanhooren’s first shot at hosting the playoffs, it will be his first playoff appearance in three years at the helm.

“It’s a combination of excitement and disappointment,” Vanhooren sighs. “We dropped a few games early in the year that we probably should have won, and there was that spell of games in the middle where we lost two to Alberta that we should have won.”

Vanhooren was a fifth-year player with the University of Alberta Golden Bears in 1993. He remembers the Dinos’ starting lineup, led by Ian Minnifee and rounded out by a young Richard Bohne, who would become the highest scorer in Dinos history. In that last playoff series in the Jack Simpson Gymansium, it was Bohne’s desperation half-court shot that eliminated the University of Victoria Vikings and set the Dinos on their way to their last Final Eight appearance.

Barring upsets in the other first-round series, it will be the last homestand for fifth-year Dino Chris Harris, who has battled injuries throughout his career to become an invaluable leader for this rising squad. With scoring star John Riad, playmaker Whit Hornsberger, sophomore star Chris Wright, pure shooter Aman Heran, and one of the deepest benches in the conference, the Dinos will be a force to reckon with.

“To host is a good accomplishment, especially with all the guys we have coming back,” Vanhooren admits.

Does the Final Eight in Halifax beckon? Time will tell, and it may take a year before this team reaches its potential and challenges for a national title. Nevertheless, when the Dinos host a to-be-determined foe on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, it will mark a huge step on the road to glory.

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