By Tommy Osborne, October 18 2017 —
The members of the Dinos women’s basketball team share a special relationship. This season, head coach Damian Jennings has noticed how much the players genuinely enjoy spending time together on and off the court. Despite suffering seven player injuries that heavily comprised the team’s competitive edge last season, Jennings says the team’s bond could result in big things this year. The team’s 5–2 preseason start already reflects this.
“The chemistry garnered last season was excellent and is probably why we’ve gotten the start that we’ve had,” Jennings said. “The camaraderie of this group is pretty special.”
Jennings says the team’s offseason attitude and approach creates a positive environment for this chemistry to develop.
“In July, we do summer camps to potentially build this chemistry earlier than other teams,” Jennings said. “I’m not saying it happens every single time, because at the end of the day it’s about the human beings themselves and how much they wish to push.”
The 10 new players to last season’s roster are returning for the 2017–18 season and want to redeem their early exit from the 2017 playoffs. Jennings forsees forward and second-year arts major Bobbi-Jo Colburn, a 2017 Canada West (CW) women’s basketball all-rookie to help achieve this and build on her sensational first season.
“In the offseason, she really got a grip of what she needs to do and her decision-making skills. She’s a talented young lady and is competitive,” Jennings said. “She’s very collected, knows what she wants from basketball and is determined to get there.”
Guard and fifth-year kinesiology major Brianna Ghali also returns for her fifth and final season with the Dinos. She is recognized as one of Canada’s best varsity players and was named a CW women’s basketball third team all-star this offseason. Jennings said her off-court influence is also noteworthy in the team’s practices.
“Brianna sets harder goals for herself than anyone can set for her. She certainly lives and breathes the Dinos brand of basketball,” he said. “She’s shaped that hard work over a series of offseasons and has become a leader. I’m sure that many of the young ones are following her work ethic.”
On the court, Jennings expects Ghali to be a key difference maker.
“She’s going to be an assertive, intelligent, mature warrior for us who is going to probably bail us out some nights and really support the youth on others and help them develop,” he said.
Jennings said that the Dinos will take their season game by game and embrace the process of improving, which is made simple by the team’s close bond.
“We had that intention [of winning the conference title] last year but seven people were injured and three [of the injuries] were season-ending,” Jennings said. “We want to stay in the moment and enjoy each other’s company. We want to win the conference title but before that we want to have a great practice this afternoon.”
The Dinos will open their season at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27 in Prince George, British Columbia, where they will face the University of North B.C. Timberwolves.