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Photo Courtesy of University of Calgary Dinos Facebook page // Taken by David Moll

Dinos basketball makes its return in Calgary Cup

By Riley Stovka, October 26 2021—

For the first time since February of 2020, the Dinos men’s basketball team took to the court as they hosted the annual Calgary Cup non-conference tournament at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. 

The Dinos took on the University of Manitoba Bisons in the first game of the tournament, beating them 98-69. On the second day of the tournament, the Dinos wound up on the losing side of the contest when they came up short against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, 83-71. In the third and final game of the weekend, the Dinos capped off a win as they beat the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack, 82-68. 

Something interesting about this Dino’s team is their wide-ranging array of guards. Of the seventeen players on the roster, eleven of them have a primary position listed as a guard. This would mean that naturally, the Dinos offence would be pass-heavy and overly rely on players’ shooting ability to score points.

In the three games the Dinos played, they outscored their opponents 263-208 and the fact they were able to put up that large of a point differential while losing one of their games, is nothing short of impressive. 

However, while the abundance of guards makes for explosive transitions and crowd roaring three-pointers, the Dinos have one glaring hole on their roster — they lack a true centre. A big man, an offensive and defensive rebounder, someone who can snatch balls off backboards and tussle with the largest of opponents in the paint. These are the players who are vital to a well-rounded offence and are critical in a shutdown defence. The Dino’s largest player is the first year, 6’11, Aingar William, but he tallied little playing time in the team’s first two games of the tournament. 

Instead, the 6’7 fourth year, Mason Foreman took most of the minutes at centre during this tournament. While he was certainly effective offensively, averaging double-digit points per game, he and other Dinos who shared centre duties with him, could not keep up and overpower the other teams big men, especially during the team’s second game against the Huskies. 

Coming off a victory against the Manitoba Bisons, where the Dinos looked leaps and bounds better than their competition in nearly every way, the team came out of the gate stumbling against the Huskies, who were able to expose the weaknesses in the Dinos game to full effect. 

A poor first half against the Huskies, which saw them enter halftime down 43-32, doomed the Dinos and their chances of sweeping the tournament. A strong second half, where the Dinos were able to pull within three points, saved the game from being a total blowout. This three-game tournament was the final tune-up before the regular season begins in earnest when the Dinos take on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns on Oct. 29. 

This tournament proved something. It proved that, in basketball, you need a whole team to win. Guards have to move the ball in transition and look for open shots on the outside. Forwards have to set blocks and look for mid-range opportunities. Centres need to snag rebounds and outmuscle the other team in the paint. Good teams must be competent at some aspects, whilst great teams prove they are great at all aspects of the game. The Dinos have a long history of being great — in fact, they won a national championship in 2018 and as of right now they are certainly a good basketball team. But to be great, they need to round off their game from centre all the way down to guard. 

Basketball is a fast game — blink and you’ll miss ten points. It’s an artful game full of beautiful arcing three-pointers and masterful fade-away jumpers. But it’s also a tough game, a game of physicality and brutishness. It’s a game that not everyone can play and do well that. What sets it apart from other sports is the players who occupy the court. The men and women who call themselves basketball players are physical specimens unlike any other. They tower over others, they can out-run and out-jump any who challenge them. All athletes are built differently, but nowhere is it more pronounced than in basketball. This is what sets the sport apart, what gives it its “wow” factor. This is what makes it fun to watch.  

But now the season begins for real and some looming questions remain. Will the Dinos contend for a national championship? Can their roster as it is currently constructed challenge for a Canada West title? Only time will tell. 

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