Fresh off being named to the Canada West men’s basketball all-rookie team and helping the University of Calgary Dinos win the first USports national championship in program history last March, Mason Foreman’s sophomore season has been bogged down by injuries.
Nevertheless, Foreman is ready to help the Dinos push for back-to-back championships in Halifax, which runs from March 8 to 10.
The six-foot-seven, 200-pound forward from East Selkirk suffered a broken right wrist during Calgary’s five-game exhibition tour in Germany in early September. However, it wasn’t until after the Dinos returned from a three-game pre-season trip to Nova Scotia in mid-October that Foreman was officially diagnosed and had his wrist put in a cast.
“It really sucked,” the 20-year-old told The Selkirk Journal.
The injury cost Foreman the first 12 games of the Canada West season and he didn’t return to the lineup until Calgary’s three-game exhibition trip to southern California against National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics squads in late December.
It was truly an exercise in patience for the former Lord Selkirk Royal.
“It taught me a lot of patience,” he said. “Injuries happen to every athlete and you’ve just got to ride it out, which is not the best thing always, but I obviously really wanted to play. Injuries happen and you’ve got to deal with it day by day.”
In his return to Canada West action on Jan. 3, Foreman poured in a season-high 15 points against the Mount Royal University Cougars.
Over the course of the last eight games of the regular season, Foreman averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game — most of which was played with mask after sustaining a broken nose on an elbow to the face. Those numbers were below the 8.6 ppg and 4.9 rpg he averaged during his strong 19-game rookie season, but his shooting improved from 41.4% to 45.8%.
“It’s tough wearing a mask because all you can see is double vision all the time,” Foreman said of wearing the mask.
He got it off in time for the Canada West title game against the visiting UBC Thunderbirds on March 2 and turned in his best all-around performance of the season. Foreman finished with 12 points and a season-high nine boards in 28 minutes of court time as the Dinos capped a perfect conference campaign with a 90-75 win.
“We have confidence but we go more into every game thinking we are the underdog, especially when that was our mentality last year,” he said. “Canada West is a little different, we go into games saying ‘One way, our way’ … playing with and for each other.”
Led by Canada West coach of the year Dan Vanhooren and first-team all-star guards David Kapinga and Mambi Diawara, the Dinos return to the Final 8 Championship ranked second in the country and sporting a 25-0 record (20-0 regular season, 5-0 playoffs). They are riding a 36-game winning streak in conference and national championship play, which includes last season’s 79-77 triumph over the Ryerson University Rams in the national title game in Halifax.
However, their quarter-final opponent, the Saint Mary’s University Huskies, is the only Canadian team to beat them this season, 91-87, albeit that was in pre-season action on Oct. 13.
Foreman knows Calgary will get the best of SMU and understands there will be pressure trying to repeat as national champs, but he expects the Dinos will be loose and ready to go in Halifax.
“I think there is some sort of pressure trying to keep the streak alive, but again we’re not really playing for that streak,” he said.