The large majority of this preview is from details provided by Wayne Thomas from Dino Hoops News, the very informative and thorough site which chronicles Calgary Dinos and Canada West basketball.
One of the more successful CIS programs over the past half decade or so, the Dinos lose several big pieces of back-to-back CIS Final Four participants including the Bekkering brothers (Henry two seasons ago & Ross last season) plus stellar 6'6" forward Robbie Sihota (all are now playing professionally in Holland - see update below). But Coach Dan Vanhooren continued his strong nationally-focused recruiting efforts and the Dinos have passed the torch and are now in the hands of 6'9" fourth-year point forward Tyler Fidler, one of the most skilled players in Canada. Several strong, young pieces remain from last season - there are no fifth-year players on this season's roster - and a number of recruits, including a promising big man, are paving the way for another multi-year run at the Nationals.
The multi-talented Fidler is a tremendous scorer/shooter but maybe his most underrated skill is his passing ability from the perimeter, especially for someone usually the tallest player on the floor. Fidler now becomes the main focus of opponent's defensive schemes but also should have the ball in his hands in key spots much more after somewhat defering to veterans of season's past. A good start to the season is key to keeping Fidler's confidence high and as his game continues to mature, expect his focus and concentration from game-to-game and possession-to-possession to be much sharper.
Fidler's progress to team leader will have to happen even quicker now that star 6'1" sophomore point guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson is on the shelf with an ankle injury sustained in a scrimmage with Mount Royal University last Thursday. Ogungbemi-Jackson is the prototypical point guard who can create by breaking down most defenders off the bounce and creating advantages. He usually is under control and can knock down open 3's if defenders play the penetration. According to Dino Hoops News, he will not play in Saskatoon, and is not likely to be available for the season opener in Victoria on the 22nd of October.
Fortunately, the Dinos have some experience at the point with 5'10" Andy Rochon (3rd year, Chicago, Illinois), who will take the reins, having had the experience of significant minutes as a freshman on Calgary’s Canada West Championship team of 2008-09. Rochon takes care of the ball and starts the offense well. Also available at the point are 6'0" 4th year SAIT transfer Keenan Milburn (Courtenay, B.C.) and 6'3" 3rd year Calgary product Trevor Debolt (Churchill HS).
For the second consecutive year, the Dinos again dipped into the Winnipeg high school scene after plucking Ogungbemi-Jackson last season, found another potential blue-chipper in 6'4" Philip Labongo. Expect him to have an impact at the wing spots as his career evolves.
In the post, the Dinos have experienced 6'7" fourth-year forward Dustin Reding, who looks to move into a more prominent role as a feature guy. Calgary has also a great addition in 6’7” freshman strong-man Matt Letkeman, a fierce competitor, who will battle hard every minute he is on the floor. 6'8" Youri Anissovets, from Toronto Vaughan Road via Missouri State University is a wiry, 3rd year transfer and known as a tough defender with an aggressive approach to the game.
The injury bug has also crept into the Dinos front line as out of the line-up for at least a few weeks is 6'8" freshman post Brad Clark (Calgary Churchill) who suffered a broken nose from an elbow and still has ‘cob-webs’ from the blow. Clark is seen as an up and comer, who has the potential to score at the offensive end, once he bulks up, and becomes more able on defense. Another new face in the post who is on the limp is 6'11" third year big Greg Farineau, who may be in playing shape for the weekend, after having sat out several practices last week.
A pair of wing/perimeter threats looked good in last week’s scrimmage including 6'5" Dan Tilleman, a 2nd year swing man with the versatility to play inside as well as on the wing and 6'3" Andrew McGuinness, a 2nd year shooting guard from Vancouver. McGuinness, who, understandably, struggled somewhat in adjusting to Canada West play following high school, is now showing his potential as a deadly outside shooter. 6'5" freshman guard Nebojsa Kuljic, a local Calgary product, could also be in the mix on the wing.
The Dinos will have a short week before departing for Saskatchewan and their first game in the Huskie Shootout, which is Thursday against the Queen’s Golden Gaels. They continue against the Huskies on Friday night, then finish on Saturday versus the Brandon Bobcats.
CALGARY ALUMNI UPDATE: Robbie Sihota’s Rotterdam team is 0-3 in the Dutch League in early going, with Robbie averaging about 9 pts. and 5 rebounds. Henry Bekkering’s squad, Groningen, is 2-0 in the Dutch League and looking good in Euro - League playdowns. Ross Bekkering’s Leiden squad is 2-1 in the Dutch League.