In early fall, they’re ready for basketball, not the mall

Things on the Dinos women’s basketball squad are changing faster than a nun can smack you with a ruler. But the always-dynamic Head Coach Shawnee Harle does not foresee trouble on the horizon.

“I don’t look at this as a rebuilding year,” she said with the confidence of your wise mother telling you you’ll love your first day of school. “With the personnel we have, this will give us the opportunity to change our style of play.”

This is as comforting as a cup of hot cocoa on Calgary’s first snowy day–the last few years have seen the Dinos win against the best, proving they were as capable of national greatness as Celine Dion, but shy away from their A game when facing some bottom- feeding teams.

Hopefully, this year’s team has the drive and determination of Cole Trickle, and will earn that national playoff spot we’re waiting for.

Of the 15 team members last season, just seven return. Five new additions are Courtney Coyle, Michelle Willson, Jane Meadwell, Becky Heninger and Elyse Hnatiuk. So how can this not be a year of rebuilding with such a different roster?

In a word, experience. While these ladies are newborns to the team, they have, at the very least, reached a basketball puberty of sorts.

Coyle spent last season with the Lethbridge Community College Kodiaks. The 510 forward feels a year of college ball has prepared her for university-level competition.

Willson, too, has college experience. The Red Deer College Cougars molded her into a high-caliber player.

“I already noticed in practice, it’s a lot more intense,” she said of the differences between university and college ball.

As last year’s Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference’s top scorer and rebounder, Willson is poised to fill the shoes Cory Bekkering leaves in the team’s dressing room.

“I’d like to come here and give something to the team,” she quickly thought up to make the annoying reporter go away. “Offensively or defensively, or neither. Because the bench can be supportive too.”

Meadwell joins the team after two years on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Though she will red-shirt this year, she will soon be an excellent asset.

Lastly, are Heninger and Hnatiuk–both fresh outta high school. Heninger is a 5ïž´6 point guard out of everyone’s favourite teepee–Medicine Hat.

She has been learning first hand what living away from home entails.

“It’s hard at first,” she said, recalling her first grocery trip and the fireball the barbeque makes when she lights it. “But once you get used to it it’s fun.”

Hopefully, she lives with someone who knows the ropes (and is shorter than her). But what would this young talent like to accomplish at the official “crunch time?”

“I’d like to do my job on court when someone needs a sub,” she said, unaware that this reporter frowns upon your typical, bland, I-play-sports comment.

With a little coaxing she admitted a few games as a starter would hit the spot.

Hnatiuk is a Calgary original who has potential to help the Dinos plough through their fuzzy competition like a freight train through a black bear. Harle will let time tell who will steal the show this year.

“It’s up to the new kids to step up to the plate and show me that [court] time is warranted,” she challenged.

The ladies get their first chance to prove they are worthy of Harle’s demanding expectations at the University of Alberta Hoopfest Oct. 7-9.

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