The University of Calgary men's basketball team captured several victories at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport basketball tournament the Naismith Classic in Waterloo Oct. 12-14. They made it to the championship finals but unfortunately lost in overtime to the University of Toronto Blues.
The annual tournament is a round robin and invite only. The invited teams consist of those predicted to be strong in the upcoming basketball season. With the Dinos' invitation, the team is proving to be serious contenders this season.
The first game the Dinos played was against the University of Waterloo Warriors with the Dinos dominating throughout the game. They had a 10-point lead in the opening quarter and improved that to 41-28 at the half.
The Dinos opened up the second half with a 25-point lead with 13 minutes left to play. A 15-5 run by Waterloo still left the Dinos' opponents down by 15 points with no time to mount any serious threat of a comeback. Calgary went on to win 81-74.
Dinos Henry Bekkering had a game high 22 points and eight rebounds and Tyler Fidler added 16 points in the Dinos win.
The next game had the Dinos up against the McMaster University Marauders. This game was no contest with as the Dinos dominated with a 104-77 win.
Ross and Henry Bekkering were limited to 16 and 18 minutes of playing time respectively as both got themselves into foul trouble, but they still combined for 30 points. Teammates Cody Darrah scored a game 21 points, Joe Sehow chipped in with 10 points, and Robbie Sihota led all players with nine rebounds. The win was a quintessential team effort, as all but one Dino registered a point.
"To be honest, we're a lot better than both those teams," said Vanhooren. "It's been a long time since I've been able to say that. This team is very talented and can be very, very good and it's going to be special to watch."
In the championship finals, the Dinos faced the University of Toronto Blues, a team that went 15-7 last season in CIS competition and is a strong national contender for the upcoming season. Toronto led for most of the game and had a five-point cushion with a minute to play in regulation. A three-point shot from Dino Jeff Price, a single from the Blues, and first year Dino Fidler sinking all three of his free throws sent the game into overtime.
Overtime was extremely close and the Blues were able to pull away as they hit a three-pointer with 26 seconds remaining. The Dinos still managed to have five players in double figures in points with Henry Bekkering leading the way again with 27 points and 10 rebounds and earned a nod as a tournament all-start. Fidler heartily chipped in with 14 points.
The story of this game was turnovers for Dinos, something which plagued the team in the first half of last season but got worked out. The Dinos 26 turnovers gave the Blues 16 more opportunities to take shots over the course of the game even though the Dinos led the contest in nearly every statistical category.
"A little bit of our youth showed at times," said Vanhooren. "We turned the ball over a fair amount in all three games. We probably averaged 26 [turnovers] on the weekend but a lot of those were repairable things."
Despite the loss, the experience was a valuable learning tool for a team with high goals and expectations this season.
"To lose a close game in overtime was a very good learning experience for us and kind of set our guys back into reality," said Vanhooren. "You know, you can't walk into a gym and expect the other team to hand it to you, you've got to play the game."