Season Preview: Dartmouth Big Green

With its core returning, can the Big Green crack the top half of the league for the first time since 2009?
With its core returning, can the Big Green crack the top half of the league for the first time since 2009?

In 2012-13: 9-19, 5-9, T-6th place, No Postseason

A Look Back

Breakthrough years usually consist of more than a 5-9 record and second-to-last finish in the conference, but last season represented a quantum leap for a squad that had gone 3-39 in Ivy League play since 2009. Dartmouth went three years between Ivy League road wins in that span and a trip to Leede Arena was usually viewed as a reward for enduring Harvard the previous night on the northern road trip.

Things were different in 2012-13. If not for a last-minute meltdown, the Big Green would have beaten eventual champ Harvard on the road in January. And even after that overtime loss, Dartmouth held its own, playing every team close at least once en route to five wins in the conference.

The task now facing Paul Cormier as he enters the fourth year of his second stint in Hanover is to better that record once again and finish .500 or higher in the Ancient Eight. He’ll attempt to do that with most of last year’s team intact. Center Matt LaBove, the sole graduating senior, averaged just four minutes per game. The only significant loss is junior forward Jvonte Brooks, the team’s leading scorer two years ago who chose instead to play for the Big Green football team. Brooks and Cormier did not get along, and a thumb injury only made it more difficult for Brooks to see the court. Ultimately Brooks played just two minutes over the final eight Ivy League contests, during which Dartmouth went 3-5. Though Brooks could help this year’s team, the Big Green still managed all right without him last year.

One of the youngest teams in the country last year, Dartmouth was led by forward Gabas Maldunas, who became the first Dartmouth player to earn All-Ivy honors since 2009 (Second Team). Guards Tyler Melville and Alex Mitola both shot better than 39% from beyond the arc last season, and freshman forward Connor Boehm proved a decent scoring option in the post alongside Maldunas, though the two struggled to find success at the same time. Melville in particular flourished after Cormier inserted him into the starting lineup on Feb. 2 and his 9-of-11, 23 point performance almost keyed an upset at Princeton on March 2.

2012-13 was a year of fits and starts for the Big Green, as the team endured a five-game midseason losing streak before winning three of its last four to avoid its fourth consecutive last-place finish. Consistency will be the key this season if a young Dartmouth team is to take the next step.

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Modest Expectations, but a Hint of Urgency in Hanover

To move the program forward, Dartmouth needs to grab more than one conference victory this season, a feat the squad hasn
To move the program forward, Dartmouth needs to grab more than one conference victory this season, a feat the squad hasn”t accomplished since 2009.

On most teams, when all but two players on the squad are freshmen or sophomores, there’s not usually a great sense of urgency. But make no mistake – there will be a sense of urgency in Hanover when Ivy League play begins on Saturday against Harvard. For the past three years, Dartmouth has stumbled to a five-win season, going 1-13 in the conference each year. And with a 3-10 record and one more non-conference game yet (a winnable January 17 tilt against D-III Colby-Sawyer), a fourth consecutive five-win season is looking like a distinct possibility.

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Checking in on Dartmouth

Dartmouth looks to turn the corner as a program after winning its first D-1 road game in nearly two years at Longwood

last Saturday.

Through five games, Dartmouth is about where most observers pegged them to be record-wise. For the first time since 2004, the Big Green won its home opener, defeating Maine 67-54 on Nov. 10 before suffering a three-game losing streak, including a pair of double-digit losses to New Hampshire and Bucknell. The UNH loss was particularly demoralizing as Dartmouth shot just 16-of-60 (27%) from the floor while allowing 44 free throws at home on Nov. 13. While that loss was the low point of the young season, the last two games have hinted at the potential — both good and bad — that Dartmouth could bring to the table come Ivy League play.

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Season Preview: Dartmouth Big Green

A young Dartmouth squad showed flashes of progress last year. They’ll try to take another step forward by moving out of the basement this season.

In 2011-12: 5-25, 1-13, 8th place

A Look Back: Dartmouth has been treading water for a while now, and the last three seasons have been eerily similar: a few non-conference wins, an Ivy home win towards the middle of the season and a whole lot of defeats. The Big Green has won just five games in each of the past three seasons and hasn’t won an Ivy road contest since February 21, 2009, when Ivy Player of the Year Alex Barnett led Dartmouth to victory at Princeton.

Dartmouth opened 1-2 before heading across the continent for the Great Alaska Shootout, falling to San Francisco and

Central Michigan but nabbing a win over DII Alaska-Anchorage. Wins against Elon and Longwood were the only other highlights from a losing non-conference season that mostly featured games against local competition – a 65-47 loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 10 being the notable exception.

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