Monday, 7 September 2009

Dinos plan to get over hump this season

Coming off their strongest finish in several years in a season in which they advanced to the Final Four, Calgary Dinos look to take the next logical step - a National Championship - after a great season in '08-'09 when the program established itself as one of Canada's finest. Despite the loss of the dunking Dutchman, 6'6" Henry Bekkering, who signed to play in the Dutch 1st Division as a non-import, there is plenty of talent returning and a deep recruiting class to ensure Dinos can go down the bench and remain competitive for years to come.

Very few teams in Canada have a more talented forward trio than Dinos starting with 6'8" fifth-year post Ross Bekkering, who was one of the better players on Canada's World University Games Team from this summer. Arguably Ross had a stronger Nationals tournament than his higher-profile brother, showing his outstanding rebounding skills and ability to finish inside and out. Another 5th year star, 6'6" Robbie Sihota will complement Bekkering up front. Sihota can step out make 3's but also work inside and he loves to take big shots, having made several game-breakers already in his career. Slick 6'9" third-year swingman Tyler Fidler, has excellent perimeter skills shooting the ball and also finding people off penetration. Fidler legitimately turned down NCAA Division 1 offers to stay at U of C. Bekkering, Sihota and Fidler give Dinos Coach Dan Vanhooren arguably the best front line in the CIS.

Setting the table for the Big 3 up front is 6'0" fifth-year point guard Jamie McLeod, a steady leader who takes care of the ball and will look to distribute first and make open shots second. The Dinos unfortunately lost the services 5'10" Andy Rochon, who shared the point last year with McLeod and in fact saw as many or more minutes than McLeod at the Nationals in Ottawa. The Dinos will need to likely find another point guard and 5'10" Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, fresh out of high school in Winnipeg, could push for time right away off the bench. Vanhooren hopes to also get something out of 6'1" Terrence Blake, a transfer from Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) where he averaged 10.8 ppg in 2007-08, primarily running the point. 6'2" Lindsay Thouret, a fifth-year guard who saw action in 21 of 22 Canada West regular season games last season, scoring 1.9 ppg, should work into the mix as well.

The Dinos had another set back with news that 6'6" Dom Coward will not play this season. Coward, a scrappy, tough star on the Alberta Provincial team two seasons ago, would have been an excellent third post, with potential to be a fine starter as early as next year. The loss of Coward opens up an opportunity for 6'7" Dustin Redding, a 3rd year shooting post who can stretch the defence.

A pair of recruits: Andrew McGuinness (6'3", North Vancouver) and Dan Tilleman (6'4", Phoenix, the son of legendary Dino and Canadian National team star Karl Tilleman's son) are reputed wing shooters. McGuinness is thought by some to have the ability to play point as well.

Calgary certainly has the talent, athleticism and muscle up front to compete with any team in Canada. The Dinos appear to be poised to go as far as their guards will take them. Calgary will travel east in the early season to play in the very competitve Laval tournament which includes three teams who competed in last season's Nationals (Dinos, Western and Dalhousie) plus the host Rouge et Or who should be nationally-ranked as well this season.

No comments: