It’s hard to remember that Dartmouth exists sometimes, so consider this roster preview a reminder that the Big Green are still around. But who are they this year exactly?
Coach Paul Cormier alluded to the fact that this is a more experienced team than he has helmed in the past, and yet there are just two seniors on the entire roster. The presence of seven juniors makes up for that, though, namely co-captain Alex Mitola, who vastly improved his assist to turnover ratio as a sophomore and established himself as one of the most dangerous three-point shooters in the league. What’s most impressive is that Mitola kept improving in Ivy play even after 2012-13 All-Ivy second-teamer and fellow co-captain Gabas Maldunas tore his ACL shortly after Dartmouth entered its conference slate. And of course, Maldunas himself can be quite the beast, averaging 11.2 points and 8.5 boards per contest before his injury, which Cormier said at the teleconference had been just cleared for contact.
So why is Dartmouth so invisible year after year? The athleticism just hasn’t been there for this group in the past, but Cormier is right to be excited about this roster. Senior guard/forward John Golden is as athletic as wings come in this league, senior forward Connor Boehm is back after shooting 52.9 percent from the floor and finishing second on the team in rebounds and there is plenty of depth at forward behind Boehm too. This is a loaded league this year with plenty of comparable or greater athleticism to go around, though, so Cormier may not be quite as lucky as he thinks.
#0 – Tommy Carpenter – Forward – 6-7, 220 – Jr.
Carpenter is a component of Dartmouth’s forward depth and will have to step up his offensive game if he wants to be a greater part of a deep forward rotation this season. More starts are well within reach for Carpenter, who along with Brandon McDonnell and Matt Rennie will comprise the core of Cormier’s forward rotation.
#1 – Cameron Smith – Guard – 6-1, 175 – Fr.
Strong scorer in high school, will have to wait his turn this year.
#2 – Ike Ngwudo – Forward – 6-6, 220 – So.
Ngwudo sat out most of last season with surgery, so the sample size here is too small to judge Ngwudo properly. The takeaway here should be that, like me, Ngwudo absolutely loves pink lemonade.
#3 – Connor Boehm – Forward – 6-7, 235 – Jr.
Okay, here we go. We know what Mitola and Maldunas are capable of but the onus is on Boehm to produce offensively in a big way too. Boehm averaged 10.9 points per game last season and complements Maldunas well in the frontcourt. Will he be “Dartmouth’s NEXT BIG THING!” this season as he promised in his Twitter bio back in 2011? Maybe not, but his role is about to get bigger anyway.
#4 – Taylor Johnson – Guard – 6-4, 180 – Fr.
Johnson is a swingman, a wingman, a shama lama ding man. He’s also one of the guys Cormier hopes can grow from the bench and not from premature starts this season.
#5 – Matt Rennie – Forward – 6-8, 230 – Jr.
Rennie logged four starts last year and this season will vie for more than his 14.3 minutes per conference game from a year ago. To do so, he’ll have to get tougher on the boards. Not going to be a scorer for this team.
#10 – Malik Gill – Guard – 5-9, 175 – Jr.
Small but very, very speedy. Fast and quick, something you can’t say about most guards in this league, especially those just entering their junior year. Saw most of his numbers drop as a sophomore, including points and minutes per contest. Nevertheless, he’s one of the biggest reasons Dartmouth’s turnover margin was third-best in the league last year with his 1.6 steals per game, the second straight year he’s led the Big Green in that category. He can make poor decisions on offense though, as evidenced by his 33.3 percent shooting from the field for his career.
#11 – Alex Mitola – Guard – 5-11, 170 – Jr.
Undersized like Gill, but so much more potent offensively. He can kill you from the free throw line, where he shot 86.8 percent last year. He can kill you from beyond the arc, where he shot 41.8 percent last year. He’s efficient with the basketball and is effective as a ball distributor. He’s continuously gotten better at disengaging from perimeter defenders and making things happen by dishing or spotting up. Dartmouth jumped from last in the league in field goal percentage two seasons ago to fourth last season primarily because of Mitola. Even within the Ivy League, Mitola is an underrated guard, playmaker and sharpshooter.
#12 – Gabas Maldunas Forward/Center – 6-9, 230 – Sr.
Maldunas is less underrated – he’s just dreaded by opponents in the paint. It took him just 15 games last year to notch 30 blocks and 128 rebounds. He makes things happen on the low post and also makes for a potent inside-out game coupled with Mitola. But just how healthy will he be? Cormier mentioned at the teleconference that the Lithuanian native will be healthy by at least a month before the start of Ivy play, but will he be 100 percent? How long will it take before he gets his game legs back under him? Only time will tell, but Dartmouth’s season hinges on the answers.
#15 – Kevin Crescenzi – Guard – 6-3, 195 – Jr.
Started two games last season and proved himself a potent perimeter shooter. Crescenzi can provide offense in spurts, important for a squad that can struggle to get good looks outside of Mitola and Maldunas.
#20 – Quinten Payne – Guard – 6-5, 190 – So.
Transferred after a freshman season at Ball State in which he averaged 1.8 points per game. Will likely crack the backcourt rotation early on.
#21 – Wesley Dickinson – Forward – 6-7, 215 – So.
Shoots free throws with one hand, so there’s that. Logged 5.7 minutes per game as a freshman and notched a career-high 10 points at Princeton a year ago. Smarter shot selection and more fluidity on the offensive end are key to Dickinson accruing more playing time this season.
#22 – Miles Wright – Guard – 6-4, 205 – Fr.
Wright’s got all the physical attributes and looks and plays like a classic two guard. Has a physical game and according to the New England Recruiting Report is a scoring threat from anywhere on the court. If that’s true, Wright could get more playing time than his freshman counterparts this season.
#23 – John Golden – Guard/Forward – 6-8, 200 – Sr.
Does a little bit of everything. Perhaps most valuable is his defensive stoutness but he was also Dartmouth’s fourth-leading scorer and one of Dartmouth’s passers. Most importantly, he’s consistent, having played in all 86 contests in his first three seasons and started every game since 2012. Golden, is well, Golden. In a supporting role, that is.
#24 – Alex Wolf – Forward – 6-10, 240 – Fr.
A very big guy and an unknown quantity at this point. Here’s his high school highlight tape, uploaded to YouTube by the man himself. As you might expect for a guy his size and age, his game seems limited to the paint for now and he’s a strong finisher and doesn’t bring the ball down low, a problem for green big men. Will ride some pine behind Maldunas and Cole Harrison for now.
#25 – Brandon McDonnell – Forward – 6-8, 220 – Jr.
Exploded for 18 points at Penn last year but otherwise hasn’t been much of an offensive threat as an underclassman. He is a strong defender though, particularly as a shot-blocker, and he’s easily in the mix at forward. And hey, the Palestra is his oyster.
#33 – Eli Harrison – Forward – 6-6, 205 – So.
Harrison shot 42.6 percent from three-point range, actually a better clip than his overall field goal percentage. So I guess high-percentage shots mean launching treys for Harrison. That’s good, because few players on this team besides Mitola can stretch a defense out with their sharpshooting.
#44 – Cole Harrison – Center – 6-11, 235 – So.
Injuries nagged Harrison throughout his rookie season, so we’ve yet to see what can happen when you pair Harrison with Maldunas in the frontcourt. If both can stay healthy this season and Harrison can prove himself a strong rebounder and shot-blocker, Dartmouth will be a very tough team to outmuscle in the paint both offensively and defensively.