Dunn sets high expectations for his first season

by Lindsay Barnes | 8/5/04 5:00am

Sheer size -- it's one of new hoops coach Terry Dunn's most apparent attributes. With his tall, muscular frame, broad shoulders and large hands, Dunn is the sort of man who enters a room and is almost sure to stand quite literally head and shoulders above everyone else.

As he takes over a Big Green men's basketball squad that was in the cellar of the Ivy League last year (1-13 in the Ancient Eight, 3-25 overall), Dunn has expectations that more than match his stature.

"I'd like this program to win immediately," he said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "I'd like to move into the upper echelon of the Ivy League."

This level of success is no pie-in-the-sky daydream for Dunn.

Rather, he sees it as an objective that's entirely within reach if his team is one of discipline and hustle.

"If we compete at a high level night in, night out, we'll get our fair share of wins, without attaching a number to that. Before you can win, you have to compete at a high level," he said.

When asked to explain what he considers to be "competing at a high level," Dunn said, "I'm talking about playing with intensity, executing well and limiting mistakes."

The former assistant coach for Colorado University enters his first season at Dartmouth after one of the most extensive searches for a coach in the College's history.

After the resignation of 20-year veteran head coach Dave Faucher, Dunn was one of over 100 candidates who applied for the job, a field that was narrowed to 16 who were interviewed at this year's Final Four in San Antonio and then pared down once more to a select group of finalists invited to campus.

Dunn expressed excitement at the prospect of coaching in Leede Arena. "I thought it was a good fit," he said. "I like the academic aspect, I like the Ivy League."

When he found himself on the shortened list of candidates for the post, the coach was impressed after coming to Hanover and meeting with President James Wright and Athletic Director Josie Harper.

"There's a commitment to winning here, to help facilitate success, in men's basketball, in particular," he said.

Another deciding factor for Dunn was meeting with the players themselves during that same visit.

"There was an attitude and work ethic exhibited by the players when I was here before, and they have continued to exhibit that," he said.

When Dartmouth takes the floor this November, Dunn will be coaching a team consisting entirely of players recruited by his predecessor.

In addressing the issue of not being able to coach his own recruits yet, Dunn said, "I think every coach wants to bring in 'their guys.' But even though these players were recruited by a former coach, my expectations for them won't change."

Dunn began his collegiate coaching career in 1989 at Army, where he was an assistant for two seasons before heading west and joining the coaching staff at Air Force in 1991.

After a three-year stint coaching the Falcons, he decided to stay in the Centennial State and signed on at Colorado State.

In 1996, he helped guide the Rams to a winning record and an NIT bid and was offered an assistant coaching job at Colorado.

It was in his first season at Colorado that Dunn got to coach an especially talented guard by the name of Chauncey Billups.

Though his period as a mentor to Billups was short, Dunn said he swelled with pride when Billups recently won the 2004 NBA Finals MVP award after the Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

"He was a great person to work with and coach," he remembered. "There's not too many guys like him. He deserved that MVP award."

While the first season with a new coach in a Division I program always has its adversities, Dunn says he's confident Big Green fans won't have to revert to the refrain of "wait 'til next year."

"We've got a good core group of guys coming back who have been through the rigors of an Ivy League schedule and they're hungry to win," he said.

If the players' desire to win matches that of their new coach, Dartmouth could be in for an exciting season of Big Green men's basketball.