For those unaware of the Dinos-Golden Bears rivalry, it was perhaps the most significant aspect of the 2002-03 season. The University of Calgary's final playoff game ended in a bitterly close defeat at the hands of the Bears, one many eye-witnesses said was unfairly officiated.
This year, the Dinos are determined to prove themselves worthy of the division title, which should have been theirs last year, and which could still be theirs this season.
Although the Dinos went 1-1 in their games with the Golden Bears Nov. 21-22, Head Coach Dan Vanhooren did not cite the history between the teams as the reason for Friday's 84-76 loss.
"The history motivates some people, but it's an unnecessary distraction," he said. "On Saturday, we had a much stronger defensive effort."
Low energy, possibly due to a tired squad and poor health, also played a role in Friday's loss.
"We were flat," said fourth-year forward John Salgado. "Our stats weren't much better for Saturday's game, but we had more energy. Friday was kind of a wake-up call."
Vanhooren concurred that there was little statistical difference.
"It's a good sign when your stats are mediocre and you still win," he said.
Saturday's team was certainly not the same group that spent all Friday's game lagging behind the U of A. Five players scored 10 or more points with Whit Hornsberger, John Riad and Chris Wright leading the way, contributing 15 apiece. The atmosphere changed from tired to electric as the Dinos won 96-81, no doubt a satisfying victory.
Yet Golden Bears are not seen as the season's greatest challenge.
"They're the team to beat in our division," said Salgado. "But within Canada West there are a lot of good teams--SFU, for example."
"Our main challenge is to play every week at the level we need to," said Vanhooren.
This week, the Dinos will play the University of Winnipeg Wesmen Fri., Nov. 28, and the University of Manitoba Bisons Sat., Nov. 29.