Men's hoopsters primed for 2006-07
With head coach Terry Dunn in his third season at the reins of a program led by co-captains Jason Meyer '06 and Johnathan Ball '08, the men's basketball squad, which has 11 returning letter-winners, enters the 2006-07 season with confidence.
After a comeback finish in the homestretch of the 2004-05 season, allowing the Big Green to tie for third in the Ivies, the team slipped to a 4-10 conference mark and a tie for last place in the 2005-06 season.
Two of last season's key players, co-captains Mike Lang '06 and Calvin Arnold '06, were lost to graduation, and another handful of contributors opted not to play this season.
Still, the Big Green heads into this year's regular season ready for success and eager to quiet any naysayers, such as those in the preseason polls. The University of Pennsylvania and Princeton are predicted to dominate the league, with Cornell, Columbia and Brown looking to keep up in terms of votes received in the preseason media polls. The Big Green was ranked last in the Ivies, just behind Brown and Harvard.
"I think the Ivy preseason predictions will provide a source of drive for this team," said senior Leon Pattman '07. "A lot of people think that we have the typical Dartmouth team again this year, but they'll be surprised to see how much the dynamic of the team has changed."
Last season's team had to rely on a number of young players. This season the corps of eight sophomores will be able to draw on the year of experience they gained last season.
"The extra year has definitely helped our team out a lot," said Pattman. "Our younger players have matured a lot. As far as a leg up on the competition, we still have to go out and play the way we're capable of playing every night."
Finding a true point guard will be one of the challenges the Green faces this season. Although, Michael Giovacchini '08, Ball and DeVon Mosley '09 all shared point guard duty last season as underclassmen, solidifying the point guard position is crucial to the development of the Big Green's offensive attack.
Marlon Sanders '09 looks to fill that role this season. Off a season-long injury and given his high school success at the highest level of Texas ball, the highly-touted Sanders should provide a promising option at point guard, although new additions Brandon Ware '10 and Robby Pride '10 will battle with Sanders for the starting spot.
Returning letterwinners Meyer, Giovacchini and Pattman -- one of last year's scoring leaders, and the Ivy League Rookie of the Year in the 2003-04 season -- as well as sophomores Alex Barnett '09 and Reggie Schickel '09 will all vie for time at guard.
Showing versatility, Barnett and Meyer will likely also see time at the forward position. Ball, who is capable of playing four positions, and Dan Biber '09 should get the start at forward. Jarrett Mathis '09 will also be competing for playing time at forward.
At the five spot, newcomers in transfer Kurt Graeber '09 and Elgin Fitzgerald '10, will pad the depth at the center position. Brian McMillan '08 and Biber will use their size to eat up space and give the Green the inside presence they lacked last season.
Regaining confidence in the team's ability to play to its capabilities will be vital to the success of the team this season. With untested players expected to make important contributions, moreover, the Dartmouth players will also have to develop chemistry. Pattman believes the team's week-long September trip to Costra Rica, during which the team competed against local opponents, helped bring the team together.
"The same youth that can propel this program to new heights may put us to a slight disadvantage because of the inexperience that comes with it," said Pattman. "However, the preseason Costa Rica trip really helped us out with that. We gained a ton of chemistry and confidence down there."
"I think one of our biggest strengths this year is our depth. We have an assortment of players that can come in and give good minutes which will allow us to play a more up-tempo, aggressive style of basketball," continued Pattman.
Dartmouth's schedule isn't doing the team any favors. The schedule includes new opponents the University of Massachusetts, George Washington University and the University of Kansas, to name a few.
The Big Green will face the challenge of having five of the first seven games on the road before Dartmouth's home opener against Colgate on Nov. 18.