Turnovers, poor free-throw shooting must end for Dartmouth

Alex Mitola and the Big Green have a chance to jumpstart its season against Maine Saturday.
Alex Mitola and the Big Green have a chance to jumpstart its season against Maine Saturday.

You could call Dartmouth’s 1-4 start a big disappointment, or you could call it the norm since the Big Green have struggled mightily under Paul Cormier, going a combined 31-83 over the last four seasons. If they don’t turn it around soon, they could be looking at yet another long, unbearable season.

On a more positive note, besides a 20-point blowout loss in the season opener against St. Bonaventure, most of their games have been close. Three of Dartmouth’s four losses have been by five points or less, including the most recent loss (by one point) to Longwood.

Poor free throw shooting has been the difference between a winning record and the abysmal 1-4 start for Dartmouth this season. In their two-point loss to New Hampshire, the Big Green shot just 11-for-18 from the charity stripe, or 61.1 percent. Against Longwood, a game decided by one point, Dartmouth shot a grim 57.9 percent from the line compared to Longwood’s 79.2 percent. This kind of foul shooting wouldn’t help a high school team win games, much less a division one basketball program. Turnovers have also been a major issue. In order for this Dartmouth team to have any success at all, it will need to do a much better job of protecting the basketball.

Although early in the season, Dartmouth has a lot of work to do if it hopes to be competitive in Ivy League play. While its defensive play has been solid, it must also improve on the offensive side of the ball. The Big Green currently rank second to last in the league in scoring, and most of their offense comes from junior point guard Alex Mitola. Dartmouth’s starting center, Gabas Maldunas, a second-team All-Ivy selection his sophomore year, has been inconsistent at best in his return from tearing his ACL last January. While understandable since it has only been 10 months since the injury, Dartmouth is going to need him to make an Adrian Peterson-like recovery and return to full strength as soon as possible. Unless Mitola gets some offensive help fast, it could be another long season for Cormier and the Big Green.