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Dinos women’s basketball ready to bounce back from playoff loss

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, October 6 2015 —

After a heartbreaking loss to the University of Victoria Vikes in the playoffs last year, the Dinos women’s basketball team is restructuring their focus on and off the court to go all the way this season.

Head coach Damian Jennings has dedicated this season to his own brand of continuous improvement.

“It always starts with the ambition of winning the crowd in the way we play, act and display our passion for representing the University of Calgary through our brand of basketball and character,” Jennings said. “The court skills are moving forward well, but the grind of the season mixed with being a student mean that often the real challenge is who is prepared to win the 40-minute competitive battle, not just the finesse battle. Every year this is a focus, and that will never change.”

After last season’s 80–78 playoff upset at the hands of the Vikes, the Dinos know that developing that competitive edge is crucial. Jennings says the loss was dramatic, but not one worth dwelling on. Instead, the team is using the memory of that game as fuel for coming back harder this year.

“It was an incredibly tough loss, as we had beaten them at home the month previous and were actually 20 points up in the second game,” said Jennings. “We lost by one bucket in a heart-wrenching return to Calgary. But I am big believer that the core of this group won’t forget that experience very quickly. We will be back stronger and — more importantly — smarter.”

The Dinos boast three new recruits this season — all from their Junior Dinos Centre of Excellence training program. Jenna Spruyt, Erin McIntosh and Laura Costello all won multiple accolades during their high school basketball careers, and all three have played for the provincial team. They join a Dinos team stacked with veteran players, including notable fourth-year vets Claire Colborne and Kelsey Lund — who finished first and second in team scoring last season, respectively.

Despite the impressive statistics of a few individual players, coach Jennings has chosen to utilize a team effort this season — an approach that differs from many other varsity basketball programs in Canada.

“There are teams in our division that have the best individual talent in the country,” Jennings said. “So we will have to focus on the 40-minute approach, utilizing our depth versus the ‘All-Star’ approach other programs have.”

In terms of training, Jennings emphasized that not much has changed this year. Instead, the team is focused on building character on and off the court. Building that stellar representation will undoubtedly lead to more confidence and focus.

“I have incredibly bright young ladies academically on my team and given that on average we are on the road every other week, leaving Thursday to return Sunday to compete for the U of C, it creates a real challenge for their ownership of time management, forward planning and the ability to feel confident about assessments coming up from the courses,” said Jennings. “I admire their work ethic in that regard.”

The Dinos will bring that work ethic to the court this weekend as they face the Mount Royal University Cougars on Friday Oct. 2 at Mount Royal, and again on the Oct. 8 at Jack Simpson Gym.

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