On Saturday afternoon, the Dartmouth men rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat Albany on the road, 61-52. With the win, the team’s fourth in a row and its second victory over the Great Danes this season, the Big Green are 8-5. Not only are their eight wins the second most in the Ivy League this year, but they are the most wins in a single season of the Dave McLaughlin era.
Just over a year ago, the program was reeling with a surprise announcement that two time All-Ivy forward Evan Boudreaux would prematurely end his playing career at Dartmouth, as well as a season-ending injury to starting guard and second leading scorer Guilien Smith. Now, less than six weeks into the 2018-2019 campaign, the Green have risen from the ashes and look to be a force in the upcoming Ivy season.
In Dartmouth’s season opening 114-39 rout of Division III Newbury College, the team hit a team-record 22 three-pointers. Three days later, the Green traveled to North Carolina to take on Davidson, then ranked No. 34 in the nation by KenPom. Despite scoring another 15 threes and leading by 12 points in the second half, Dartmouth came up three points short, 79-76, to the Wildcats.
After two wins against then-No. 290 Loyola (Md) and Division III Elms College, the 3-1 Green & White came back to earth with a 39-point loss to No. 22 Buffalo and a 19-point defeat to former Columbia coach Kyle Smith’s San Francisco Dons. A third straight double digit loss, 76-58, to Marist in the opening round of the Belfast Classic left Dartmouth at No. 280 in KenPom, heading into a consolation match where they were underdogs against No. 254 Albany.
The Big Green rebounded with 17 three-pointers in a 91-77 win against the Great Danes. Brendan Barry scored 25 while James Foye and Chris Knight added 20 each, becoming Dartmouth’s first trio of single game 20-plus scorers in 21 years. Following a 64-59 loss to Quinnipiac, the first home defeat of the season, the Green came away with 26 and nine-point wins, respectively, over lowly rated Maine and Sacred Heart. The four-game homestand concluded with Barry scoring a career-high 31 points in a 78-68 victory over former Columbia coach Joe Jones’ No. 183 ranked Boston University Terriers. Saturday’s win over Albany extended the win streak to four, its longest since ending the 2015 Ivy slate with five straight victories on their way to an appearance in the CIT postseason tournament.
Heading into Saturday’s game, Dartmouth has five players averaging double digits. Not included in this group is Smith, who has missed the last six games of this season. Knight, who is sixth in the Ivy League in scoring (15.3 points), is third in rebounding (7.7) and second in blocks (1.4). Barry, the conference’s ninth leading scorer (14.6), was first in three point shooting (55.7 percent), made threes (44), three point attempts (79), assists/turnover ratio (3.4), as well as second in assists (four), third in minutes (32.8), and third in made threes per game (3.7). Sophomore forward Adrease Jackson was averaging 10.7 points per game, as well as 6.7 rebounds (sixth) per contest. Junior guards James Foye and Ian Sistare were both averaging 10.3 points, as well as 3.3 rebounds per game.
After 13 games, the Green & White average 78.1 points with a 54 percent effective field goal rate. Their 48.3 percent two point and 67.1 percent free throw shooting are ranked around the mid-250s nationally, but their elite three point shooting has been their bread and butter. Their 40.9 percent three point shooting in Division I games is twelfth in the land, while they are in the top 10 in overall attempts (359), attempts per game (27.6), made threes (150), made threes per game (11.5), and three-point percentage (41.7). In addition to their outstanding three point shooting, which is 4.9 percent better than last year, the Big Green have a 16.6 percent turnover rate, which is 55th nationally and a 3.4 percent improvement from their 279th ranking a season ago.
Last year’s team had more trouble on the defensive side, and this year’s squad, while seventh in the league in field goal defense (44.4 percent), is showing improvement in several important metrics. The effective field goal rate is 51.3 percent (No. 197), which is down from last year’s 54.5 percent (No. 311). The two point defense is 52.8 percent (No. 244), 2.9 percent less than last season’s 55.7 percent (No. 337). From beyond the arc, Dartmouth is holding opponents to 32.1 percent (No. 110, a decrease of 3.1 percent (No. 185) from 2017-2018. They are also keeping teams off the three point line with a three point attempt rate of 32.5 percent (No. 33), a 7.9 percent improvement from last year’s 40.4 percent rate (No. 273). On the glass, they have similar rates as last year, low on offense (23.4 percent; No. 313) and strong on the defensive side (73.4 percent; No. 94).
After the last-minute loss to Davidson, McLaughlin told Dartmouth Athletics, “How much better are we going to be in a month? They all, without any doubt in their minds, know that we’re not even close to where we’re going to be in a month. They understand that if they maintain their attitude and energy every single day, this team has a lot of room for growth.”
While the Big Green’s outstanding three-point shooting may regress as the season continues, they should still have solid output from downtown. If they can get some additional low post scoring and maintain their defensive effort, they should cause trouble for the rest of the Ivy League and have a legitimate shot at claiming the fourth spot in the Ivy Tournament.