CALGARY, Alberta — It was a banner year for the Calgary Dinos.
The men’s program won their first-ever national championship in thrilling fashion over the Ryerson Rams, 79-77. The women’s program made waves of their own in the U Sports Final 8, bringing home the consolation championship despite a loss in the quarter-finals to the eventual national champion Carleton Ravens.
Calgary was one of three schools to have both their men’s and women’s teams take part in the national tournaments, as Carleton and the McGill Redmen / Martlets were the others.
Despite losing their opener to Carleton in a defense-filled quarter-final, the Dinos rattled off a pair of wins over the McMaster Marauders and Laval Rouge et Or to end their impressive season on a high note.
After the graduation of four seniors, head coach Damian Jennings will turn to some younger players and look for new stars to emerge as the season unfolds.
Much like the men’s program, the women started the season strong to set up a successful campaign when all was said and done.
Calgary opened the 2017-18 season with four straight wins in exhibition play ahead of the Calgary Classic inside the Jack Simpson Gymnasium. The Dinos went 1-2 in the event, with their lone win coming in the opener against the Waterloo Warriors.
During the season, Calgary picked up a sweep over the Mount Royal Cougars in the Crowchild Classic, an annual event between the Dinos and Cougars. The two institutions are separated by a drive down Crowchild Trail in the city of Calgary. The Dinos dropped 107 points on the Cougars in the first game of the event, picking up a 53-point win in the process.
Overall, the Dinos finished with a record of 27-10 on the year, and they went 15-5 in Canada West play. They were an impressive 13-3 in front of their home crowd, making Jack Simpson Gymnasium one of the toughest venues for road teams in the nation.
The Calgary Dinos men’s and women’s basketball teams combined to post a win-loss record of 28-4 on their home floor.
On defense is where the Dinos made their mark. They held opposing offenses to an average of 57.1 points per game, and they recorded an average of 12.4 steals per contest. Offensively, Calgary recorded 72.8 points per game of their own, giving them a scoring margin of +15.7 per night out.
The Dinos also out-rebounded their opponents by 3.9 rebounds per contest. Calgary pulled down 42.9 rebounds per contest. On both ends of the floor, the Dinos left it all on the floor, and that translated to 27 wins on the scoreboard when games were said and done.
As mentioned above, the Dinos will be without the services of four graduating seniors from last year’s team that won the consolation championship. The likes of Brianna Ghali, Shannon Hatch, Brie Wilcox, and Hilary Annich are gone, and while Wilcox didn’t play a game for the Dinos, the veteran presence will surely be missed.
With four big holes to fill on the team, the opportunity is there for several players to step into bigger roles and become the faces of the Dinos in 2018-19.
Off the top, the two players that fans should get to know in a hurry are Bobbi Jo Colburn and Erin McIntosh. Colburn (Cranbrook, B.C.) will be entering her third year of eligibility, while McIntosh (Calgary, Alta) will be a fourth-year player for the Dinos.
Last season, McIntosh started all 28 league games and playoff games for Calgary, averaging over 28 minutes of court time per contest. The 5’11” wing was an impact player on both ends of the floor, averaging 11.3 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while also registering 10 blocked shots over the course of the season. She also shot 37.3% from beyond the arc.
McIntosh’s versatility gives coach Jennings options on both ends of the floor. She can score from all over the floor on offense, while her defensive ability allows her to match up with opposing forwards in the paint while also being able to cover guards outside on the three point line.
Colburn made just one start last season in 25 appearances, but will be a regular in the starting five this season for the Dinos. She averaged 10.9 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as one of the team’s top reserves.
Like McIntosh, Colburn is a threat from all over the floor on offense. She can step out beyond the three point line and confidently hit long range jumpers, as evident by her 6-for-7 shooting night from long range against the Victoria Vikes back on February 17th. Colburn has the length and athleticism to be an impact player on both ends of the floor, and with an increase in playing time on the horizon for this season, look for Colburn to become a steady force on both ends of the floor.
From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will step up and help fill the void left by the graduates. Guard Sascha Lichtenwald (Saskastoon, SK), a transfer from the Saskatchewan Huskies, will suit up for Calgary this season and will look to add another veteran presence to the mix. Second-year guard Liene Stalidzane (Jelgava, Latvia) will look to build off a solid first-year campaign.
*Note: The Calgary Dinos have yet to release their 2018-19 roster.*
There are several candidates to fill the holes and take on expanded roles with the team this season. Look for the Dinos to use their exhibition games to get their lineup sorted out ahead of the 2018-19 season.
Last season, three teams from the Canada West conference finished in the top five at the U Sports Final 8. Look for the league to be highly competitive once again, and the Dinos will be right in the thick of things all season long as they look to get back to the national championship tournament for the second year in a row.
– T. Bennett