Aristotle Knows Key to Success is Actualization
These preseason sports previews are such a crapshoot, especially at the college level where the athletes are, shall we say, less refined. This is a level of competition where anything can happen. An athlete can go from a zero to a hero and then back to a zero in a week. Sports Illustrated, with all their overly enthused interns, can't accurately predict the capability of a college basketball team. There are just too many factors, chief of which is a team's ability to mature and develop raw talent.
I'm going to be the first sports columnist since never to reference Aristotle in his column. Aristotle speaks of actualizing one's potential. I don't know if he was talking in general terms or directly referring to this year's Dartmouth men's basketball team, but I feel that he hit the key to the season right on the nose. Everyone is talking about the loss of key starters Greg Buth '01 and Ian McGinnis '01 to graduation, and then the recent defection of inside powerhouse Jay Jenckes '02, so it is easy to overlook the young talent of Coach Faucher's squad. Sophomores Scott Klingbeil, Brendan Herbert and Tyler Davis will be called on in the paint to help succeed McGinnis on the boards, while freshman Michael McLaren will shoulder the burden of replacing Buth's three point capability. These players are young, but they're good. With a little facilitation, their talent is more than enough to overcome their inexperience.
But, of course, a young squad is about as clueless as a frat boy in an up scale bar without the leadership of a few tried and tested senior leaders. In order for this team to succeed, meaning develop their young talent rapidly, starting point guard Flinder Boyd '02 will have to take the reigns along with his co-captain and senior shooting guard Vedad Osmanovic. Small forward Charles Harris '02 is crucial to the offensive production of this Dartmouth team as well. These three must produce on the scoreboard and in practice if Dartmouth is going to have a chance at the Final Four (you can put in Ivy League title here if you don't want to be funny.)
"We are a very young team, so our inexperience will be our weakness, particularly early in the year," Boyd said. "I think there will be some early growing pains, but I'm confident that we will be a very strong team as the season progresses. With Harris and Osmanovic we can score from anywhere on the court."
This season depends upon a sharp learning curve. If they want a have a shot at the end of the season, Dartmouth can't chalk up too many early losses to learning experience. The good news is that the team is a close-knit bunch of guys. Boyd says, "there is very good team chemistry this year. It's probably the closest the team has been since I've been here." The bad news is that friendship doesn't win basketball games. Friends or not, they are still young.
But I'm going to go out on a limb here with my prediction. If the Dartmouth men's basketball team can have an accomplished skilled squad last year with high expectations and still end up 3-11 in the conference, then I think they can buck the trend again this year and ride all their inexperienced talent to an over five hundred season and a third place conference finish. Logic is overrated in the pre-season. You have to go with your gut feeling and my gut feels good about this team.