Big Green topple Army, 59-44
"It may not have been pretty, but we're 1-0."
Co-Captain P. J. Halas '98 could not have described Dartmouth men's basketball's 59-44 win over Army any better.
The Green showed no signs of first-game jitters as they hopped out to an 9-2 lead and never trailed in the game, handing Army their third loss of the season.
Halas led the way for the Green with 18 points, shooting 3-6 from beyond the arc. He cited the efforts of his teammates, though, as the reason for the opening-night win.
"A lot of people who haven't played collegiate ball tonight stepped up and knew what to do with the ball. They didn't even play up to their full potential," he said.
Halas controlled the game from the opening tip and only relinquished in the final minute when the game was easily in hand.
Despite his six turnovers, he provided leadership on both ends of the floor and gave the Green a big boost early in the second half with a runner along the baseline which he converted for a three-point play the hard way.
One of those guys was freshman Ian McGinnis '01. McGinnis displayed some brilliant interior passing totalling 4 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists in his 24-minute debut.
One of the questions that Head Coach Dave Faucher had answered tonight was the play of those who did not play because of last year's senior class and the freshmen on the team. Co-Captain Asa Palmer '98 said that everyone did their part and that he couldn't be more proud of his teammates for playing the way they did.
"We all finally got an idea of where we stand. We were so anxious...so anxious just to get a game and compete but everyone stepped it up big time," Palmer said.
Palmer only scored 3 points but was a force defensively, blocking a shot and taking two charging fouls at vital junctures of the contest.
It was clear from the opening tip that Dartmouth's trademark tough defense would still be present despite the youth on the squad. The Cadets were held to just 12 field goals on the night, shooting a putrid 26%.
Army did have reason to be tired having just returned from a drubbing at Duke earlier in the week and a six-point defeat at Brown last night.
As a result of the Bears' poor shooting, the Green put together runs of ten in both halves opening up the game in both cases.
Faucher's major concern coming into the night was his defense, but he said that he couldn't have been much happier with the results.
"They say that to play a real team defense without a stopper, you are as strong as your weakest link. Tonight we didn't have a weak link," Faucher said.
The best player in the gym tonight, with apologies to P.J. Halas, however was clearly Shaun Gee according to Faucher and virtually all who viewed the game tonight.
He scored 15 points and pulled down 12 boards on the evening, but his highlights were two thunderous dunks which got the Leede Arena crowd involved.
Gee wasn't in top form tonight but if he is able to keep his poise, he will be a force in every game he sees action in this year.
While the crowd was impressed by Gee's athleticism, Faucher was happiest about the Green's adjustment at halftime. They changed their approach to Army's press to a dribble entry with quick isolation in the second half and their lead exploded from 6 to 14 in two minutes.
Palmer and Halas knew the game was a far from perfect one and pointed to the occasional lack of poise on the offensive end and the carelessness of fouls on the defensive end as areas to target in practice.
Faucher acknowledged these areas but wanted simply to enjoy the win.
"Sure, I'd like every possession to be perfect and I could criticize different areas, but I'd rather enjoy the win tonight and worry about that stuff tomorrow," he said.
Dartmouth travels to Colgate on Friday and to Lafayette on Sunday in two non-conference match-ups where they will face better teams.
"Colgate will be a test for us, they are a much quicker team than this Army team was," Faucher said.
With the jitters out of the way, the Big Green have a very good chance to return home from this road trip undefeated.