Women’s Basketball: The frozen freeway to deadmonton

It’s official, icy temperatures killed the dinosaurs.

Last weekend’s trip to Alberta’s arctic capital ended in the extinction of our b-ballin’ women’s winning streak, as the University of Calgary dropped both frosty matches to the University of Alberta Pandas Nov. 24-25.

It was a disastrous weekend for the Dinos, as sub-par play guided the girls to a 90-82 loss on Friday and a 79-60 drubbing Saturday night. If that wasn’t enough, sub-zero temperatures welcomed the team everywhere, including their hotel and bus.

“We didn’t have any heat [in the bus],” said second-year forward Courtney Coyle, recalling the frozen trip home. Coyle said the bus driver announced the heater was broken soon after they departed the U of A, and then the temperature dropped steadily until they got home.

“It was pretty terrible,” she said.

There was also a report that the hotel they stayed in had problems with their heating system, forcing management to use block heaters in each room. Of course, anybody who has ever used a block heater has shorted out the electrical system, and it was no different at the Dino Hotel from Hell over the weekend.

Despite accommodations dropping below the standard of an igloo, Dino coach Shawnee Harle doesn’t think it affected her team.

“We’re still growing up,” said Harle, refusing to cite the frigid accommodations as a factor in the losses. “[We’re] still learning how to handle adversity, to be leaders and to be tough when we need to be tough. [This team] is kind of like wine, it needs to sit on the shelf for a bit before it tastes good. I have full faith that we’ll be good when it matters.”

Regrettably, that wasn’t the case for Calgary on Friday. The Dinos started strong, much to the dismay of the vociferous 800 screaming Panda fans, who dug themselves into the warm U of A bleachers. The Dinos pounded the Panda defence in the first quarter, and were rewarded with an 18-15 lead over the fifth-ranked team in the country. The Pandas responded by pouring in 22 points in the second quarter, taking a 37-34 lead into the second half. That was it for the Dinos, as they never got within six points of the lead for the rest of the game, eventually losing by a score of 90-82.

“[We] just flat out didn’t play that well,” admitted Harle. “The score kind of flattered us to tell the truth.”

See B-BALL, page 25

Saturday night’s bout escalated into a beating, as our provincial rivals shut down the typically prolific Dino offence, resulting in a 79-60 Panda win. The number four offence in the league was held to a dreadful 60 points–17 points below their average.

“Our defence was probably the best it’s been this year, but we didn’t rebound,” said Coyle, whose aggressive play over the weekend earned the attention of the coaching staff. “[The Pandas] got a lot of second shots on offence, and our offence wasn’t working. We need to be tougher than we were last weekend. We got pushed around a lot last weekend; we need to do more of the pushing.”

At least they will know who to push next weekend. The Dinos are bussing it up to Saskatoon to take on the beastly University of Saskatchewan Huskies (11-2) Dec. 1-2. The prairie dogs’ roster boasts the current Canada West points leader Sarah Crooks, who also happens to be the reigning league MVP. Crooks is like the Shaquille O’Neal of Canadian Interuniversity Sport women’s basketball. She averages a double-double per game–this year 21.8 points per game, 11.4 rebounds per game–and her 2006 defensive player of the year trophy is a hint she can smother opposing offences.

The Dinos desperately need a win this weekend, and they know what they have to do to get it.

“[We] need to do a job on [Crooks], and try to keep her off the board, even though she’s going to get her points no matter what,” said Coyle.

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