Bye bye basketball builders

By Sean Nyilassy

Despite a disappointing and abrupt end to this year’s Dinos men’s basketball season, departing players still have many fond memories. They witnessed the growth of a team from a young sapling into the mighty oak it is today.

“When you look back at the program five or six years ago, we weren’t all that successful,” Head Coach Dan VanHooren recalled. “These guys have been through a major building process.”

And while this season didn’t favour the Dinos, last year they not only won the Canada West championship, but advanced to the semi-final round of the national championship where they were knocked out by the eventual tournament winner.

Members of the CW championship-winning team now out of eligibility are Ian Ferguson, Surinder Grewal and Jonathan Salgado. VanHooren feels all three athletes contributed in making “a program that is on a successful upturn.”

Ferguson started his university basketball career at the University of Saskatchewan, where he spent two years playing for the Huskies. He brought experience, size and a physical force to the Dinos. Called a philosopher by those who know him, he always had a good thought to contribute.

“Your involvement in sports is more than just playing sports,” explained a wise Ferguson of being a varsity athlete.

The Edmonton original will leave the U of C with a kinesiology degree in mind sciences in another year.

“It’s an experience I’m never going to forget, they’re my family,” Ferguson commented on his time as a Dino and his teammates.

Grewal also joined the Dinos from elsewhere, spending two years as MVP on the Kwantlen University College Eagles. The Surrey native is an excellent passer and scorer, averaging 19.3 points per game in conference play this season. He graduates with an accounting degree. His personality was an excellent asset to the team.

“The way he is, he’s such a team guy,” commented VanHooren.

Salgado was another transfer student. This one started out in his hometown on the University of Regina Cougars. He will likely move on to an MBA after an indefinite amount of time in Australia. This semester he receives his BSc in computer science.

“It was all awesome,” summarized Salgado of his experience as a Dino. “I loved it.”

He and Ferguson were the only two Dinos to play every conference game during the prosperous 2003-2004 season. Salgado wrapped up that season with a spectacular showing at nationals, hitting for 16 points in the semi-final. Travelling to compete in nationals was certainly one of Salgado’s favourite memories.

“Something I always wanted to do is make it to nationals one year,” he said.

He will miss all of his teammates as he moves on to other things.

“They’re my best friends in the world,” he explained. “When you spend time with them every day, you get really close.”

While teammates and coaches alike will sorely miss these players, next year will bring another brood of young ones who will hopefully keep the Dinos basketball program growing.

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