As pre-Halloween celebrations resulted in massive consumption of Advil and KD, Dinos basketball fans dealt with a recovery of their own. The emotional rollercoaster of watching our men take on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds resulted in sheer nausea as the T-Birds stole the show for the first weekend of league play.
The biggest thief was Simon Fraser University transfer Pasha Bains, who tallied 41 points for the T-Birds on Friday night alone. The Dinos got off to a slow start, but, with a taste of Josh Feist, created hope for the fans, closing the gap to 40-31 at the half.
The second half started out even stronger as, whenever UBC got sloppy, the Dinos gave a glimmer of hope by clawing in and drawing out fouls or intercepting passes. Unfortunately when the T-Birds weren't sloppy, they dominated.
The Dinos definitely proved themselves worthy, tying the T-Birds at 58 points, and again at 73. But by capitalizing on the Dinos' weak free throws and turnovers in the dying minutes, the T-Birds pulled off the win 97-89.
Whit Hornsberger racked up 25 points for the team and points and assists from rookies Cody Darrah, Robbie Sihota and Ross Bekkering gave hope of a bright second game.
This hope lived on through the first half on Saturday. The Dinos were up at the half 38-39, with forward Chris Wright contributing multiple assists and points. The game then proceeded to implode.
The T-Birds out-scored the Dinos 58-24 during the second half--due in part to an exhausted defense and to several referee calls that seemed to have the honesty and integrity of American foreign policy.
"We got into some foul trouble in the second half that kind of took us out of our rhythm," analyzed Wright. "[The calls] were rough this weekend, but it's something we've got to get used to. There are a couple of new rules this year; things that they're looking at. But it seems to be a trend happening at a few other games too."
While there was a lot to be proud of for the Dinos, the 96-63 final score has our men focussing on several aspects of their game: particularly their defense.
"With 29 turnovers we won't win games," commented Head Coach Dan Vanhooren. "We had a chance to beat UBC on Friday. On Saturday, we had too much foul trouble."
The Dinos will use these games to build rather than leaving the heap of rubble. However discouraging the weekend may have seemed statistically, the team now has a clear vision of how to move on.
"In each game, we did certain things really well. We played well for three halves out of four," Wright elaborated. "Turnovers and rebounding are two things we want to work on this weekend."
As well as being a young team, the Dinos were dealing with a combination of UBC's key players such as Bains, Ryder McKeown, Jason Birring and Casey Archibald as well as the recovery of their own injured starters. Feist made his debut and, while he doesn't feel he is playing 100 per cent yet, his offensive and defensive contributions made fans look forward to his full recovery.
"I kind of want to get to where I was before the injury," he said, "and not being worried about my ankle twisting around."
As the team prepares for their next league games against the University of Alberta Golden Bears Nov. 11-12, Feist believes that the Dinos will use the past two weekends as a starting block rather than a hindrance.
"I think we just basically need to work on the consistency of it," he said of their progress. "We're not getting frustrated, we're just taking it as a learning streak."
With the Dinos now 0-2 for the season, they move on to an exhibition series in the southern United States. Our men will attempt to prove they are bigger than Texas, taking on the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs and the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles Nov. 5-6. These teams will play very physical and fast, giving the Dinos a chance to air out their socks on the road and try their hand at every true Canadian's worst nightmare: defending against the Americans.