If there’s one thing Cornell knows all too well, it’s that it can’t sleep on the Dartmouth basketball team. A year ago, the two teams met in Hanover, a game that most thought Cornell would surely win. Despite the common prediction, the Big Red came out lacking focus and energy, resulting in its first loss at Dartmouth in the last six seasons. Out of all the tough stretches the Big Red endured last season, losing at Dartmouth was rock bottom. If we can use last year’s matchup to infer one thing about Saturday night’s game, it’s that the Big Red won’t be caught sleeping.
Dartmouth is currently sitting alone at the bottom of the league as the only winless team left in the Ancient Eight. Since Ivy play started, the Big Green average just 49 points per game and shoot just 35% from the field. These numbers don’t scream winning basketball. These numbers don’t even scream competitive basketball. These figures may make it tough to see, but Paul Cormier has his team moving in the right direction.
Dartmouth has already proven that it can play with anyone in the Ivy League. The Big Green was within six points of both Yale and Harvard after twenty minutes of action. The issue that Dartmouth runs into is that eventually its lack of offense buries it past the point of recovery.
If Dartmouth is going to come away with a victory Saturday night, they will have to defend, and more specifically, defend the perimeter. Dartmouth has not fared well against Ivy guards so far this season. Against Dartmouth, Oliver McNally led Harvard with a season high, 17 points. Reggie Willhite poured in 16 for Yale and Jean Harris shot well from the outside, adding 15 points for Brown. This bodes well for Drew Ferry, who is arguably the most deadly shooter in the Ivy League and for Chris Wroblewski who seems to have finally found his offensive rhythm. If Cornell is able to score 60-65 points on Saturday, Dartmouth simply won’t be able to win. Guarding the three point line and forcing the Red to score inside might be the only chance Dartmouth has.
The Big Green will at some point pick up a league win this season. The days of winless and undefeated Ivy teams appear to be
over (watch out Harvard). The question at hand is will Dartmouth get win number one at home against Cornell Saturday night?
The simple answer, no.
Dartmouth will have to catch a team off guard. A year ago, that team was Cornell. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. There is just no way Bill Courtney allows this to happen for a second consecutive season. Expect Cornell to come out focused and ready to play. Dartmouth will play Cornell close in the first half, but the Red will break away early in the second, coasting to its first road victory of the season.