Last winter felt like an ice age to all Calgarians, but no one so much as the Dinos men's basketball team.
During the balmy 2000/01 season the team was ranked tenth in the nation. But, along with the freezing snow, sleet and ice that crippled traffic on mountain passes and highways the season brought injuries that crippled the Dinos.
This year, despite the loss of starters Andy Stordeur, Rich Wiebach and Jeff Loomis, as well as fifth-year guard Adam Begley, Head Coach Dan Vanhooren forecasts a major improvement from last season.
"Last year was a recovery year," said Vanhooren. "This year we have talented players, and the team isn't as young."
Vanhooren named fifth-year Chris Harris, fourth-year John Riad and third-year Whit Hornsberger among the key veteran players for the upcoming season. Also mentioned was Chris Wright who, though only in his second year, is expected to contribute in veteran-fashion after a promising 01/02 season in which he was named to the Canada West All-Rookie Team. Vanhooren also predicted that newcomers Aman Heran of Eastern Oregon University, Ian Ferguson from the University of Saskatchewan and Jon Salgado of the University of Regina will be valuable additions to the team.
Following last year's frustrating injuries and the Dinos' disappointing failure to make the playoffs, this season's team has all the makings of a playoff contender.
"We're aiming for top two in our division," said Vanhooren. "We haven't made the playoffs in two years."
As for the competition?
"We're not second guessing anyone. Everyone is going to be a challenge."
With that said, only time will tell how the Dinos will fare this season. The cold is just around the corner; will the Dinos be ready to face the storm?