DINOS DOMINATE SHORTHANDED WESMEN By Ben Matchett
CALGARY – The third ranked Calgary Dinos took full advantage of a Winnipeg Wesmen team sans all-Canadian point guard Erfan Nasajpour, cruising to a
98-62 win Saturday night to finish the season a perfect 12-0 in the friendly confines of the Jack Simpson Gym.
Nasajpour (5th year, Winnipeg), the leading scorer in Canada West, left Winnipeg’s Friday night contest in the third quarter and did not dress for Saturday night’s game, one which Calgary dominated from start to finish. The Dinos opened up a nine-point first quarter lead and never looked back, taking the easy 36-point decision.
“We’re really happy about going undefeated at home,” said Dinos coach Dan Vanhooren. “That’s a big thing going into the playoffs and gives us
confidence going into a best-of-three series against the Alberta-Saskatchewan winner.”
The Dinos (17-3) will host the Central Division Final Feb. 22-24 against the winner of the Alberta-Saskatchewan semi-final a week earlier.
Calgary recognized its fifth-year seniors in a traditional pre-game ceremony, and both Cody Darrah (5th, Edmonton) and Jeremy Odland (5th,
Calgary) cracked the starting lineup in their final regular season home game. Odland, a 6’4″ guard, played 24 minutes, pouring in six points and bringing down four rebounds, while Darrah – also a 6’4″ guard – had 13 points in 27 minutes on the floor.
“I can’t say enough about those guys,” Vanhooren said. “Cody and Jeremy are both ‘glue’ guys, and they both play like fifth year guys. They make good
decisions, and without them right now I don’t think we’d be where we are. It’s great to have that kind of depth in our roster, and two guys committed
to playing roles that we need them to play for us to be successful.”
While Henry Bekkering (4th, Taber, Alta.) brought the crowd to its feet with three highlight-reel dunks during the game, Darrah was not to be outdone on Seniors’ Night. After Winnipeg’s Mike James (2nd, Winnipeg) hit a jumper with less than five seconds left in the third quarter to make it 67-37
Calgary, Darrah grabbed the inbound pass and heaved a shot from his own three-point line that found nothing but net with the buzzer blaring, putting
an exclamation mark on a quarter that saw the Dinos outscore the Wesmen 26-11.
With the Calgary bench playing most of the fourth quarter, the Wesmen found their offensive groove and posted 25 points in the frame – led by four big
treys from Cameron Hornby (2nd, Winnipeg). Hornby finished the night with 17 points off the bench to lead the Wesmen offensively, and 12 of those points came in the fourth quarter.
Mike James (2nd, Winnipeg) added 13 points and seven rebounds for Winnipeg, while Jeff Shynkaryk (2nd, Winnipeg) poured in 10.
The Dinos, playing for the third straight game without Canada West’s leading rebounder Ross Bekkering (3rd, Taber), were led by a 25-point effort from
older brother Henry. Robbie Sihota (3rd, Calgary) contributed 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds, followed by Darrah’s 13 and an even dozen from Tyler Fidler (1st, Calgary).
Calgary will close out the regular season next weekend with a two-game weekend series against Andrew Spagrud and the Saskatchewan Huskies in
Saskatoon before enjoying a playoff bye week. The loss moves Winnipeg to 9-11 on the year, and the Wesmen continue to be embroiled in a second-place tie with the Regina Cougars in the Great Plains Division. Winnipeg closes the season next weekend with a home-and-home series against the No. 2 Brandon Bobcats, followed by a first-round playoff date with the Cougars.
Feb. 1 Dino Hoop News
By Wayne Thomas
If you have not had the chance to witness a virtuoso performance by the University of Winnipeg’s Erfan Nasajpour, you really must take in the Saturday night match-up of the homestanding UC Dinos and the Wesmen. For all of his 5 years of trying to perform miracles for Coach Dave Crook and the Wesmen, Nasajpour has been the gold standard for point guards in the CIS.
His is an outstanding court presence with clutch shots to beat you in the last minute, the cunning of a slick thief gaining possession at the defensive end, and the ability to deliver the ball to set up teammates like no guard before him. 2nd in the league in scorinng (22.1 ppg) Erfan is also near the top in assists, and is the clear leader in steals.
In his 5th season one might hope for him to spur his team on to playoff success, but he has never enjoyed the supporting casts of court QBs in Victoria, UBC, Alberta, Calgary, and the G-PAC’s dominant Brandon Bobcats. It is more likely that Nasajpour and his mates will again bow out in either Regina or Brandon with no chance to have his talents showcased at Nationals.
In Jeff Price, the up and coming Dinos’ point man, Nasajpour faces a more fortunate court director who can lean on scorers like Henry Bekkering, who has gone over 30 ppg with regularity recently, and rebounders like Ross Bekkering, who leads Canada West at 11.7 per game. The depth of talent surrounding Price is certainly not staring back at Erfan in the Wesmen huddle, and Calgary (15-3) have dreams of championships, while Winnipeg (9-9) dreads an early ouster as playoffs begin in a couple of weeks.
Game time is 8:00 pm Saturday
Seniors Want More Home Games
Cody Darrrah and Jeremy Odland, the Dinos’ two 5th year seniors will be feted in a Senior Night Ceremony on Saturday, but both players are looking for more home dates as Calgary is poised to host the Central Division Final, and, with a win in that best of three against the winner of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Canada West Final Four. Darrrah, who got a second life in CIS basketball by transferring to Calgary after two years at U of A, is a sharp 3 point shooter who has also been a timely sub at the point when he’s been called upon. This season his defensive game has picked up, and he has been a big factor in the Dinos drive to a #3 national ranking.
Odland, after graduating from Lord Beaverbrook HS, played at Prairie Bible, at U of C, at Mount Royal, and finally back to Calgary and Canada West. His determination, leadership, and willingness to take a back-up role in his final year, have been great motivators to his teammates, and when he enters the games, Jeremy always seems to pick up the team intensity.
Two seniors who deserve congratulations for their efforts in a Dinos’ jersey, and two competitors who will try and help take the Dinos farther than they’ve ever been in CIS playoffs.
DINOS CLINCH DIVISION PENNANT By Ben Matchett
CALGARY – The Manitoba Bisons (4-15) have pulled off some major upsets this season – the Alberta Golden Bears and the then-No. 2 Acadia Axemen come to mind – but don’t add the No. 3 Calgary Dinos to that list.
The Dinos (16-3) extended their home court dominance to a perfect 11-0 on the year, clinching the Central Division pennant and a first round playoff
bye with a 101-77 victory over the Bisons Friday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.
For Calgary coach Dan Vanhooren, the division title is the realization of a pre-season objective set out by the team.
“It’s always good to achieve the goals you set at the beginning of the year, and with Ross (Bekkering) out of the lineup we were able to show some of our depth,” he said. “Today was a much better effort than we had last weekend. Going into the playoffs and going through the roster now we have three games to work on some things and tune up.”
The younger Bekkering (3rd year, Taber, Alta.) sat out his second consecutive game as he tries to heal a nagging ankle injury. Though the leading rebounder in Canada West was missed on the floor, Robbie Sihota (3rd, Calgary) picked up the slack for the Dinos.
Sihota bounced back from a couple of sub-par performances to earn the night’s only double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, despite shooting
only 3-for-11 from the field.
“He’s a capable offensive player, and he didn’t get in foul trouble early, which makes a big difference,” Vanhooren said. “He played smarter defensively tonight so he could stay in the game and find his rhythm on offence. In other games, he was getting two fouls early and sitting down, so that made the difference tonight.”
The Bisons kept it tight for much of the opening quarter, and Calgary’s first nine points came from beyond the arc as the Dinos struggled to pound
the ball inside. As the quarter wore on, the Dinos slowly began to work their inside game and pulled away from the Bisons, and a late deuce from Henry Bekkering (4th, Taber, Alta.) made the margin 22-17 after 10 minutes.
The Dinos quietly began to extend the lead in the second quarter, making it a 15-point cushion at halftime. Manitoba simply couldn’t match Calgary’s
inside game, leading to the 24-point victory for the Dinos.
Isaac Ansah (4th, Winnipeg) paced the visitors offensively with 23 points on the night, while Brian Crowe (5th, Victoria) chipped in 13 and Joel Pankewich (2nd, Thunder Bay, Ont.) added 10. Junior forward Sean Landry, a Calgary native, led the Bisons with 10 rebounds.
Henry Bekkering led the way for Calgary with 22 points, while point guard Jeff Price (3rd, Calgary) posted a quiet 18 points to go with nine assists
and six rebounds, earning player of the game honours. The starting five accounted for 83 of Calgary’s points, with Tyler Fidler (1st, Calgary)
posting 14 and Cody Darrah (5th, Edmonton) 11 in addition to Sihota’s 18.
With the division title sewn up, Vanhooren and the Dinos still have much to play for – including a perfect 12-0 home record.
“I’d like to see us power through the next three games and do what we’re capable of,” he said. “Tomorrow night is seniors’ night and it’s going to be
important for us to come out and win it for those two guys. And to go undefeated at home would really be something special.”
Fifth-year seniors Cody Darrah and Jeremy Odland (Calgary) will be recognized prior to Saturday night’s game against the Winnipeg Wesmen, who
lost a tough 83-79 decision at Lethbridge Friday. The Bisons, meanwhile, head to Lethbridge for a battle between two teams destined to miss the
Calgary will host the best-of-three Central Division Final Feb. 22-24, where they will play the winner of the Alberta/Saskatchewan semi-final. Game times and ticket information to be announced.