Every basketball team needs a player who can bring the ball up the court, penetrate, find open players and control the rhythm of the game. For the University of Calgary Dinos that man is fifth-year guard Josh Feist.
Feist may not have a nickname, but in fulfilling these roles he is the de facto "quarterback" of the men's basketball team. He must map out the offence on the court and inevitably, as his play goes, so go the fortunes of the Dinos.
"Josh is obviously our momentum and tempo guy," says Dino head coach Dan Vanhooren. "The way he plays dictates how fast our game goes."
In his five-year career, Feist has dazzled crowds by breaking full court presses with his strong dribbling skills, courage to penetrate inside and eagerness to find teammates to finish off Dino offensive strikes.
In high school, Feist always prided himself on being able to penetrate and be unselfish in finding teammates open for better looks on shots than his own shooting angle. This past year, however, Feist has worked hard to add another weapon to his arsenal.
Working with Dave Love, an outside coach who specializes in shooting, Feist's shooting is at the level he's always wanted it.
"Dave Love has worked with me to revamp my shot and I feel like I am a true shooter now as well," says Feist. "When I graduated high school, shooting was definitely not a part of my game that any recruiters would have wanted me for."
Having spent two years as a Mount Royal College Cougar before transferring to the University of Calgary for his last three years of eligibility, Feist has had the opportunity to play a diverse range of teams throughout his basketball career. His opponents have included Alberta college teams, Canadian university teams, and American opponents in both the NCAA and NAIA.
"One of the highlights of my career was playing a tournament in New Orleans and Mississippi," says Feist. "We lost to Texas Christian University and Southern Mississippi, but played them tough. It was also something to see how big basketball was down there. [There were] things like leather seats in the visitors' locker rooms."
In trying to pinpoint a career best-performance Feist mentions a game played earlier this year against NAIA opponent Montana Tech at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium.
"We played good against Montana Tech and I think I played really well as an individual that game," says Feist.
Vanhooren has more trouble in finding a career highlight for his point guard.
"I think he's had five 'best games' this year alone where he's come out and scored 20 points and 14 assists," remarks Vanhooren.
Those watching Feist's play and making their own comparisons to NBA players won't be surprised at the 5'9" guard's choice of a role model.
"Steve Nash," says Feist. "It might be a bit of a cliche--a little white guy who likes to penetrate and pass and who has a good shot--but I really love to watch him play."
With a playoff spot locked up for the Dinos and one last home weekend series against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Feist is looking to make the most of the rest of his career.
"I don't have any regrets," says Feist. "I loved playing at Mount Royal for two years and I've loved playing here. We just got to get some momentum going now and keep it going because my university career is ending now."
The Dinos will hope he can carry them far into the playoffs this year and when it's all finished Feist hopes to continue playing basketball somewhere in Europe next season.
Not sure which country he'd like to play in, the potentials were narrowed down with a complex set of criteria.
"Somewhere warm!" laughs Feist.