The Dinos were swept 0–2 last weekend in the opening round of the playoffs against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades.
Game one was a blowout, as the Cascades rolled over the Dinos 67–48. Guard Kristie Sheils led the way for the Dinos with 13 points and guard Tamara Jarrett chipped in with 10 points.
“We felt ready, but unfortunately it was one of those games where we were disjointed and did not click as a team,” said Dinos head coach Damian Jennings.
The Cascades led by as much as 29 points, but the Dinos made a comeback with a 23-point fourth-quarter surge. Their late-game momentum carried on into game two, which was a back-and-forth affair. Jarrett carried the Dinos with 14 points, but it was the Cascades who ended up with the 60–48 win.
While the playoff results are disappointing, they do feel that their season was a success, as they made strides towards their long-term goal of being a top-tier team.
“The next cycle is to continue chipping away at our goal of being in the top-two in the Canada West and top-four in Canadian Interuniversity Sport,” said Jennings.
Jennings thinks that his team employs a specific philosophy that is missing in Canadian basketball, which will give the Dinos an edge against other teams.
“We recognize that there is a brand of basketball missing in the CIS that I think we provide, which is consistent energy, pace and space to the offensive end, and playing beyond half court on defence,” said Jennings. “It’s extended and pressurized, and recognizes that the shot clock is 24 seconds. We are going to try and make it as difficult as possible for our opponents.”
The Dinos will be without their captain, Jarrett, next year, as she has finished her university career. Her departure will leave the Dinos without their leader, who was known for maintaining the team’s intensity.
“Tamara acknowledged that these are her friends, but when we are training we are competing to make each other better, and this is something that we will miss,” said Jennings.
Jarrett’s intensity in practice was so important to the Dinos, as Jennings explained how the nature of women’s basketball does not always lend itself to competitive play amongst teammates.
“It is interesting with the team, and particularly with women as well, because they don’t mind fighting against the opponent, but fighting against each other in practice doesn’t come easy,” said Jennings. “One of the strong motivations that they have in basketball is the relationships that they have with each other.”
Jennings is looking to one player in particular next season to bring the intensity to practice.
“I think Kristie Shiels will bring it,” said Jennings.
On a different note, Jennings is looking to strengthen the team through player recruitment and development over the off-season.
“Our off-season is critical to us,” said Jennings. “We really believe in multi-skilled and multi-positional athletes, for example Laurie Saunders, who stands at a height of 6’3” with a 6’7” wingspan. Our expectation is that if she is open she needs to be able to shoot a three, handle and pass the ball, as well as finish inside and have a variety of solutions and counters to varying sizes of defenders inside. So I think that the future is bright. We just need to be sure that we are getting the best talent from Calgary into the U of C, which is what we have done so far.”
In regards to player recruitment, Jennings feels that their sales pitch is one that takes care of itself because of the nature of the University of Calgary and the city at large.
“The university here does not need selling as it is recognized globally,” said Jennings. “The city itself is very easy to sell. Once I bring any recruit in here and they meet the players, get a feel of the place and see the facilities there is a nice homely feel, which is interesting for a [big] city.”
Jennings also feels that the success of the Dinos is integral to winning over the support of the Dinos fans, and is a goal that he works towards every year.
“When we are looking to the supporters, our goal is to win the crowd,” said Jennings. “Saying we enjoyed watching the game because there is a style of basketball that we are playing that is fun to watch, which is where the tempo and intensity comes in.”