Making basketball history

By Esther E. Steeves

For the first time since 1976, the Dinos Men’s Basketball team will occupy first place in Canada West if they manage to win their final two games of the season against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at home Feb. 13-14.

Feb. 6-7 saw the Dinos sweep the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 86-66 and 87-74, respectively, to remain in position to finish the season in top form for the playoffs. The University of Alberta Golden Bears are their main competitors, and must also win their games against the ‘Horns this weekend to stay in the running. However, if both schools sweep their games, the Dinos will come out on top.

"[U of S] beat us twice there [in Saskatoon]," said Head Coach Dan Vanhooren. "They’ll be a tough team to beat.

"Getting two wins [last weekend] was what we needed, but there are some places to improve for sure."

Vanhooren mentioned sloppy turnovers as one area the team needs to focus on, but praised their rebounding as key for transitional baskets.

Vanhooren also praised his fifth-year players, who will be honoured at Saturday’s game.

"John Riad is the third all-time leading scorer for the program," he said.

"[The last five years] have had their ups and downs," said Riad of his time with the Dinos. "I’m glad to end on a high note."

An engineering student, Riad is also the fourth highest scorer in Canada West right now. He plans to finish his degree next year and play in Europe once he graduates.

Forward Sean Newland will finish this year as well, and he also plans to play ball overseas.

"It’s been great," reflected Newland. "The coaching has been phenomenal. I’ve learned more in two years than I had in my entire basketball career."

Last but not least, guard Aman Heran believes his time here has been "really well spent." The British Columbia native transferred to Calgary from Eastern Oregon University’s struggling sports program two years ago.

"We’ve really turned this program around," mused Heran. "Last year was really special, and I was named captain this year."

Heran struggled with injuries earlier this season, but said he’s finally playing at almost 100 per cent again, and not a moment too soon.

Heran scored 30 points in the two games, and he wasn’t alone. Friday saw Riad, Whit Horsberger and Chris Wright each score over 15 points, while Saturday saw Jon Salgado join them in double digits.

All things considered, it looks like the upcoming games are well in hand.

"We’re going to come out hungry," predicted Riad. "[We’re ready for] a little revenge."

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