Big Green ranked second in press poll
In the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll, which was conducted among 16 members of the media, the Dartmouth men's and women's basketball were ranked second for the 1995-96 season.
The picks came as little surprise for Dartmouth supporters since the men, third last year in the Ivy League, have a strong core of returning players, while the women, last year's Ivy Champions, are known for their annually strong teams.
The poll was released in time for the Ivy League conference call yesterday afternoon in which Ivy League men's and women's basketball coaches shared their brief outlooks for the upcoming season. The coaches also commented on the poll. The conference, held in Smoyer Lounge for Big Green supporters, featured brief outlooks by individual Ivy coaches which were followed by a short question and answer period.
For Dartmouth, women's Coach Chris Wieglus and men's Coach Dave Faucher were both present to give their outlooks on the women's and men's seasons.
Women ranked second in poll
After winning the Ivy League Championship last season, no one will underestimate the capabilities of the Dartmouth women under the coaching of Wieglus.
Wieglus, who has had 10 years experience coaching at Dartmouth, has herself tallied a 139-95 record. The Big Green will look to her experience to rally together a young team that will be minus four key seniors from last year.
But with returning players like Sally Annis '97, selected second team All-Ivy for her efforts last year, Wieglus will have some help.
"We have a solid core of returning players," Wieglus said yesterday afternoon at the conference session. "We've been delighted the way they've been playing in practice."
In the preseason press poll, Dartmouth was picked number two with 103 points. Harvard received the majority of support, however, with 15 first place votes and 127 votes.
Even after graduating last year's all-time Harvard leading scorer and Ivy League Player of the Year, the Crimson will look to Allison Feaster, last year's Rookie of the Year, to pick up some of the slack.
"We feel we are very deep," Harvard Coach Kathy Delaney Smith said. "We're optimistic we will be a contender if we can stay on track."
Princeton, ranked third in the polls, and Cornell, ranked sixth, will both be adjusting to new coaches this season as they look to upset the top contenders.
"Everything is in place," Princeton Coach Liz Feely said. "We're lucky to walk into a situation with such good talent."
Although Wieglus herself is skeptical of preseason polls, she is optimistic about her Big Green squad.
"We've have quite a bit of depth and are looking forward to a competitive race," Wieglus said.
Brown Coach Jean Marie Burr may have accessed the season best. "It should be an exciting year ahead," she said.
The women will begin their quest for the title Nov. 18 at home in an exhibition game against Slovakia.
Men compete for title
With a strong core of returning players, the Big Green are being noticed for the first time in many years as top contenders for this year's title. However, defending champions, Pennsylvania and always strong Princeton will have something to say about that.
In the preseason poll, the Quakers claimed first place with seven first place votes and 115 points. Dartmouth and Princeton ranked a close second and third with 105 and 104 points respectively.
"It's hard to believe Penn will be that good after losing all those players," all five starters to graduation, Princeton Coach Pete Carril said. "I see the fight for the Ivy League Championship as a dogfight this year."
Carril returns 14 players with league experience including co-Captain Sydney Johnson, who led the team in scoring last year.
Yale Coach Dick Kucher was cautiously optimistic about losing only one player to graduation.
"We're still relatively young although we are returning lots of players," Kucher said. Lucky for Kucher one returner is guard Gabe Hunterton, the league's Rookie of the Year last season. Yale was ranked fifth in the preseason polls.
It was surprising to Penn Coach Fran Dunphy that his squad was pick to repeat despite losing all five starters.
"Replacing the backcourt will be the challenge," Dunphy said. "Besides senior co-Captains Ira Bowman and Tim Krug, we really haven't found the other 3-6 guys to play for the team."
Look for freshmen Frank Brown and Paul Romanczuk to play big roles this year for the Quakers. Big Green Fans may remember Bowman's flying thunder dunks during his inaugural visit to Hanover last year.
The Brown Bears, under Coach Frank Dobbs received one first place vote to finish fourth in the preseason poll. The Bears return four starters from last year's third-place team.
"Having five seniors has allowed us to establish a new system early," Dobbs said. Look for All-Ivy first team guard Eric Blackiston and Brian Lloyd to lead the Bears in some fierce battles this year.
Coach Frank Sullivan from Harvard and Coach Al Walker from Columbia offered little insight to their teams.
"We're happy with competition at practice," Walker said. Sullivan commented only that Harvard lacks experience, especially in the backcourt.
One of the lighter moments of the interview came from Columbia Head Coach Amond Hill. Hill, the former assistant to Carril at Princeton, is in his first year at the helm of the Lions. He was asked to assess his season to date.
"I'm learning as we go along," Hill said. "At practice, well, I'll not happy with anything. Right now we're trying to get consistency in their work ethic." Hill's Lions were predicted to finish in the basement this season.
Dartmouth's own Faucher, offered some insight, especially on star player Sea Longeran, a unanimous All-Ivy selection last year. "Sea is a thoroughbred," Faucher said. "He's our best player and hardest worker. He takes advantage of the open court transition game and is a great all around shooter."
One slight mishap for the Big Green is the loss of this year's Captain Jacob Capps '96, who has suffered recent knee problems.
"Losing Jacob Capps to arthriscopic surgery this week is a big loss," Faucher said.
The outlook for Capps is still unclear, but with 13 returning letterwinners, the Big Green hope to muster a good replacement until he returns.
"There is enthusiasm on campus for this team," Faucher said as a group of about 30 alumni watched him talk. The enthusiasm stretches beyond the students this year.
About the conference in general, Faucher said it best.
"This is all speculation," he said. "What we have here is improved teams across the board from last year. All this will be solved on the court."
Dartmouth opens up with the Korabel Exhibition Nov. 19 at home.