Embarking on a tough British Columbia road trip from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, the University of Calgary Dinos basketball team is one of the hottest teams in the entire country. The Dinos currently hold a top-10 Canadian Interuniversity Sport ranking. After losing two of three non-conference games in Nova Scotia, the Dinos have won 11-straight games, eight of which have been against Canada West opponents.
Heading into this season, the U of C women’s basketball program had a lot of uncertainty. A new coach — Damian Jennings — replaced the legendary Shawnee Harle after 18 seasons coaching the Dinos program, including coaching the Dinos to a surprising fourth-place finish last season while hosting the CIS championships.
“This season has been going great, especially with a new season and a new coach. We all love and have bought into the new systems that [Jennings] has put in,” said fourth-year kinesiology major and John Diefenbaker High School graduate Tamara Jarrett. One of the team’s offensive leaders, Jarrett averages 12.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. This season, the Dinos are off to one of their best starts in school history. Jennings has led the Dinos to a 13–2 record to start the season, including an unbeaten record in the CW conference.
“[Jennings] asks us to work hard but smart. We have to give 100 per cent in everything he asks of us but he is never unreasonable,” said Jarrett.
Jarrett has also set specific goals for herself to achieve throughout the season, including the free-throw line where she is currently shooting a team best .794 — the best percentage for those who have taken over 20 free-throws.
As a fourth-year player, Jarrett is expected to be a leader on the team, a concept which she would rather communicate on the court.
“I would consider myself more of a demonstrative leader rather than a vocal leader,” said Jarrett. “The chemistry on our team is amazing. All the girls listen to each other and respect each other’s opinion so it is not too hard to be a leader by example and let others lead vocally,” said Jarrett.
The Dinos are an extremely exciting team to watch, focusing on offence and hustle in order to overwhelm opposing defences. The Dinos are second in the CW with an average of 78.1 points per game and outscore their opponents by an average of 10.7 points in each game. The Dinos also lead the CW in three-point percentage, shooting .364 from beyond the arc.
“We are definitely a scoring team. We play a five-out, motion system with not too many set offences,” said Jarrett. “As a team, we have a goal to play to win the crowd with our hustle and our style of defence. As a team, we want to shock opposing teams with our defence,” said Jarrett. Speaking to this aggressive style of offence and defence, the Dinos lead the CW in steals, turnover margin and offensive rebound percentage.
If the Dinos can keep up the pace that they have set for themselves early in this season, another trip to the CIS championships could be within their grasp.