Men’s Hoops – Lawrence Bailey
A recruiting coup brought highly-touted Whit Hornsberger to join prolific scorer John Riad in the Dinos backcourt this season. With a solid cast of returning players the stage was set for a breakthrough. While this didn’t happen, the talent cannot be blamed. Solid all-around seasons were turned in by Wes Jickling, Andy Strodeur and Chris Harris which showed the front court is established–offering hope for next year.
This is a difficult category for this year’s squad. Yes, they finished tied for last in Canada West. Yes, they lost games they really shouldn’t have. Yes, they were on the outside looking in during the playoffs. The question is: Why did this happen? For starters, they were decimated with injuries. By the end of the season they were plugging holes on the roster with whoever they could find. That being the case, consistency suffered and team chemistry was all but non-existent due to a roster that changed more often than the weather. In times of adversity, champions must overcome and must play through. Sometimes, however, it’s just too much and you have to turn your gaze to the future.
Earlier in the year, I took shots at the squad for what seemed to be uninspired play. As the second half unfolded and the Dinos health unraveled, the effort and the true grit of the team began to shine through. Whether it was Hornsberger playing with a separated shoulder for the last two weekends, or everyone on the front lines stepping it up in the absence of centre Chris Harris, the pride and passion shown as the season started slipping was truly admirable.
Dan Vanhooren was a talented field general on the court with the Golden Bears and is even better off the court with our Dinos. A man who wears his heart on his sleeve and likes an up-tempo game, he surrounded himself with the players he needs to run and gun. He gave his talent a chance to shine game in and game out, and while this may have led to a sloppy turnover here or an ill-advised shot there, it was always exciting. Vanhooren is a man whose passion and devotion to the team cannot be questioned. You need look no further than his technical fouls to see the energy he brings to each and every game.
Song they remind me of: The Pharacyde’s "Oh Shit." Well, it’s been a hard luck season for our boys. Sort of a Murphy’s Law kind of situation. "I guess that’s one of those things that makes you go shit!"
Women’s Hoops – Scott Lepp
The lady Dinos were jam-packed with ability this year. The back court was led by Natalie Hudec with Jennifer Goldade stepping up after an injury forced an early end to Linnae Bee’s season. Sarah Williams was huge with her long-range bombs all season. Jen Elford took care of business on the defensive end all season and provided a solid baseline jumper. The depth of the Dinos went even further with Rena Carriere and Duby Sui comming off the bench to add a spark. Anna Bekkering stepped up big at the end of the year with her shooting and distribution of the ball. The Dinos featured a skilled frontcourt with Alison McGinn, Laura Jablonski and Cory Bekkering providing good minutes for coach Harle. Of course, who could forget two-time reigning CIAU Player of the Year Leighann Doan. She had another sparkling season; it’s hard to have a team that doesn’t do well when you have a player like Doan.
There was no lack of effort from any one of the players. Anyone who spent even a few minutes at one of their practices knows the team was full of heart and showed that all through the season.
Head Coach Shawnee Harle proved she was for real last year when she led the team to a silver medal at the CIAU championships and earned Canada West Coach of the Year. Harle has a reputable relationship with all her players and her team all show her a tremendous amount of respect. Assisting Harle is Claire Mitton who brings a considerable knowledge of the game to the team.
If there was one not-so-good thing about this year’s team, it was the inability to execute and win the big games with consistency. Sure, the wins over Victoria in the Canada West Finals were huge, but the loss to Regina in the National semi-finals was a stiff blow considering the tourney was theirs for the taking. The win over Queen’s for the bronze was incredible, but all it showed was the Dinos belonged in the final with Alberta. Just imagine–how nice would it have been to see Doan top off her amazing career with a National title?
Song they remind me of: This year’s team was the best the U of C has seen in a long time, including last year’s squad. I think the song going through coach Harle’s head for the next while will be Vertical Horizon’s latest release, "The Best I Ever Had."