Uncertain outlook for B-ball
All preseason signs pointed toward the possibility of an ugly season for the Dartmouth men's basketball team. The team lost two key members of the Class of 2001, Ian McGinnis and Greg Buth, to graduation, not to mention senior Jay Jenckes, who decided not to continue with the team in his final year. But Dartmouth may still be able to have some success this season if it can consistently take it to smaller teams the way it did against St. Francis Xavier last Friday night.
Don't get me wrong, this season could still go down the drain. By no means did Dartmouth dominate St. Francis for the entire 40 minutes. Nevertheless, for the first time since Shawn Gee '00 graduated, this team has some life to it. When head coach Dave Faucher came out of the locker room after last week's game, he actually had a smile on his face. I think that's the first time I've seen the guy look happy after a game.
Last year, even with McGinnis dominating the boards and Buth throwing down three-pointers, the men couldn't seem to get things going. It took them six games before the tallied a single win, and, even then, they had difficulty building momentum.
Last season's highlight was a rousing 57-56 upset of Princeton here in Hanover, but that win only proved what a waste last season was. That's right -- Dartmouth's most impressive victory last season proved that the entire season was a waste. In that game, the Big Green demonstrated its true ability to be a contender in the Ivy League.
Two years ago Dartmouth won every Ivy League game except those against Penn and Princeton, and there's no reason why the team couldn't have done the same last year. Hell, there's no reason why the boys in green can't do it this year.
We'll take our victories when they come --like the exhibition win over St. Francis Xavier-- but don't expect Dartmouth to go out and dominate the killer P's right away.
What impressed me most about last Friday's game were the '05s. If this Dartmouth's basketball program lives or dies by this year's class of freshmen, it should be in decent shape. Mike McLaren '05 made the most impact of the freshmen, perhaps the most in the game save for reliable point guard Flinder Boyd '02. McLaren demonstrated poise in his first collegiate contest, managing to score 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Look for McLaren to retain his starting position in the coming weeks.
So where will the team stand in March? Probably not at the top of the Ivy League, but probably not toward the bottom, either, if the freshmen have anything to say about it. Hopefully, some fresh blood can get this team going again.