Men to tip off against Stony Brook before heading to Hawaii tournament

by Elliot Olshansky | 11/20/03 6:00am

The 2003-04 Dartmouth men's basketball season tips off tomorrow night in Stony Brook, N.Y., and there's only one certainty: It's a whole new ball game.

Gone are 11 of the 16 All-Ivy players from last season. What's left is an Ivy League with no prohibitive favorite."The league is wide open this year," team captain Steve Callahan '05 said yesterday, "and every game in the league will be extremely competitive."

Before the Big Green starts its Ivy League slate on Jan. 3, however, the team will play nine non-league games, starting tomorrow with Stony Brook. The Sea Wolves are one of five teams from the America East Conference on Dartmouth's schedule, and with a 2002-03 record of 13-15, Stony Brook is one of the Big Green's weaker America East opponents. Still, a win is critical to open up the season, as Dartmouth will not play at home until hosting Tufts on Dec. 4.

"It's tough opening on the road," Callahan said, "especially with a relatively long road trip to Stony Brook, but it's part of the game. Roadtrips have a way of bringing teams even closer together, and I think our early games on the road will do just that."

Callahan certainly has reason to look at Dartmouth's early-season games as a potential bonding experience. Following the opener at Stony Brook, the Dartmouth will play its next three games at the Hilo Shootout, hosted by the Univeristy of Hawaii at Hilo. According to center Scott Klingbeil '04, "this is a great opportunity for us to come together as a team and learn how to win on the road. If we can string together some wins early on on the road the long term benefits of that would definitely outweigh the early drawbacks."

A win over Stony Brook will most likely involve stopping senior guard D.J. Muniz. A second-team all-conference player last season, Muniz posted 2002-03 averages of 17.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

For Dartmouth, guard Mike McLaren '05 should continue to be a major part of the offense. With 9.7 points per game in 2002-03, McLaren is Dartmouth's leading returning scorer, just ahead of Callahan's 9.2 average. On the boards, Dartmouth hopes to benefit from the new frontcourt pairing of David Gardner '05 and Cal Arnold '06. While a thin roster forced Arnold to share time with Gardner and Klingbeil at the pivot last season, an influx of new talent will allow Dartmouth to play Arnold at his natural power forward position. The change suited Dartmouth well in the team's exhibition game against St. Francis Xavier, as the Big Green dominated the boards. Tomorrow, however, Dartmouth will see how its new lineup stacks up against Division I competition, as Dartmouth tips off against Stony Brook at 7 p.m. at the SBU sports complex.

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