If you hear the sound of thudding basketballs beckoning from the Jack Simpson Gym, expect to see several tall men practicing. You will later hear the hopes and dreams of their opponents crashing to the floor as our very own Dinos men's basketball team gear up for a game of hardwood, slam dunks and Gatorade.
What else can be expected when you place 17 of Alberta's finest under the supervision of a dedicated coaching staff who have nothing but positive adjectives and high hopes for this year's crop? Watching a practice is like watching finesse and hard work collide head on, resulting in one determined and connected team.
"We're solid... our whole bench," said home-grown 6ïž´8ï›¸ veteran forward Chris "Longsocks" Wright. "We can put anyone on the floor at any time. We're just fast."
Wright, one of last year's dominating scorers, returns along with guards Josh Feist and do-it-all Saskatchewan native Whit Hornsberger, who sees a bright February ahead for the Dinos.
"We have to do better than last season," he proposed. "I think as a team and as a program, if we don't make it to nationals it will be a disappointment. That's the goal."
Aiding the returning legends in reaching this goal are the top recruits for the University of Calgary this year: Ross Bekkering and Robbie Sihota.
"Sihota was the best player out of Calgary this past year and Ross was a starter for the Alberta team," boasted Head Coach Dan Vanhooren. "Both will play a large role for freshmen this year."
Another addition to the ranks is University of Alberta transfer and guard Cody Darrah, who, at 6ïž´4ï›¸, can cause some serious problems.
So who is going to challenge this rock-solid team first?
The pre-season really gets underway as the team travels to Cape Breton University for a match Fri., Oct. 14. Hopes against the projected top 10 Capers will be as high as their socks. They move on to the St. Mary's University Huskies a short 24 hours later and top off the weekend with the Acadia University Axemen Sun., Oct. 16. All three teams should help prepare the Dinos for what's to come.
Though the pressure to set the bar high for the season will be on, there is seemingly no tension at practices--players and coaches take everything in long-legged stride.
"It'll be good to get on the road," said Wright, "get into some trouble."
The regular season gets down to business Fri., Oct. 28 in the Jack as the Dinos take on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds with full force. Come cheer the Dinos on for free with shrill screams and eyes peeled. There will be speed. There will be sweat. And there will be hot dogs.