By Josh Rose
The University of Calgary sports teams are called the Dinos, yet there are many kinds of dinosaurs, from the peaceful vegetarian stegosaurus to the predatory carnivorous tyrannosaurus. Without a doubt, the U of C men’s basketball team is a ferocious predatory species, despite being ranked seventh in the nation. Their record in the league is 3-5, but if you include their exhibition games they have a 7-6 record. Plagued with injuries, the Dinos were able to narrowly defeat the fourth-placed University of British Columbia Thunderbirds 92-85 on Saturday. The Dinos came out of a two-game weekend 1-1 after a loss to the University of Victoria Vikes 75-63 on Friday.
“With all the injuries we have, this is a testament to our guys’ guts. They put us in a position where we can still make the playoffs,” said Dinos head coach Dan Vanhooren.
Fifth-year guard Tyler Fidler is a player the Dinos need defensively. Fidler scored 22 points on Friday and 25 on Saturday. Last season he led the Canada West division for the most rebounds.
Vanhooren said with forward Boris Bakovic and point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson on the floor, Fidler has more room to move around the court.
Injuries have been a huge hinderance for the Dinos, who haven’t played a single game all year with the whole team. A deep bench and the return of some of the Dinos’s top players will make them a team to reckon with and a definite contender for nationals. One of the biggest challenges will be integrating the team back together once injured players return. Bakovic injured his knee during a Team Canada training camp in October and is hoping to return in January. Ogungbemi-Jackson was injured for the entire 2010-11 season due to injury and has sat out most of this year due to a hand injury — he hopes to return in February.
“These guys have great character. They’re very cohesive and that will help them in the second half of the season,” said Vanhooren. “If we can keep a high level of energy, we can play with anybody.”
The Dinos have struggled this year, but are confident they will end the season strong — the men’s basketball team is no longer extinct.