The Dinos men's basketball team haven't hosted a divisional playoff final in 11 years, but thanks to two victories against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Feb. 13-14, they will this year.
Consistent team defence and Whit Hornsberger's skilful scoring toppled the Huskies Friday, but Saskatchewan battled much harder Saturday, bouncing back from a 87-65 loss the first night to lose by only a point in a 99-98 nail-biter in the second tilt.
"They played hard [on Saturday]," said Hornsberger. "They had nothing to lose."
Hornsberger's contribution, totalling 49 points and 17 assists over the weekend, earned him the honour of being named Canada West Athlete of the Week.
"[During Friday's game], Whit had 27 points and ten assists," said Vanhooren. "That involves him in 40 points of the game, and he played the same the second night. That needs recognition."
"It's nice to be recognized," agreed a modest Hornsberger. "But I don't know if I was that deserving."
Still, this boost can't hurt as the Dinos prepare for their most exciting--not to mention most important--weekend in years. Following a weekend sweep of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, the University of Alberta Golden Bears will travel to Calgary Fri., Feb. 28 to compete for the title of Mountain Division champion.
At this hectic point in the season, however, several members of the team are cramming for midterms while attempting to focus on the upcoming games.
"Academics come first," said Vanhooren. "[But] we're trying to focus on ourselves, to make sure we do what we do well."
Last year the Dinos were defeated in division playoffs, and were overlooked as the wild-card attendee. This season, however, the Dinos have the best regular season record in Canada West, increasing their chances of advancing even if this weekend doesn't go as planned.
After two weeks rest and with home court advantage, however, the Dinos' final home games this year leave nothing to fear. With a solid season behind them and a deep bench to boot, all the team needs now is fan support.
Games begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 27-28. If the series goes to three games, Sunday's match will be played at 2 p.m.