Men’s basketball 2023-24 season preview

On Nov. 9, the Big Green will travel down to Durham, North Carolina to take on Duke University at Cameron Indoor for their season opener.

by Dean Lowery | 10/30/23 1:00am

2-24-20-bball2-nainabhalla
by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth

It’s that time of year again. From slams to buckets to the “nothing but nylons,” college basketball will return in one week. The Dartmouth Big Green’s first contest will take place on Nov. 6 after a 10-18 overall, 6-8 conference campaign last year. They will open the season with a marquee matchup, visiting the No. 2 Duke University Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. 

Dartmouth enters the season with an experienced squad, highlighted by last year’s second leading scorer, Ryan Cornish ’25. Cornish shot 32.2% from beyond the arc last season, while averaging 12.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. This season, Cornish hopes to focus on improving to be there for his teammates on the court. 

“I’m just trying to do what I can for the team; I’m not worried about each statistic,” Cornish said. “If I had to pick something, I would say assist-to-turnover ratio.” 

Also returning is forward Brandon Mitchell-Day ’26. Mitchell-Day averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last year, and looks to improve now that he has a year of play under his belt. 

“I’m just trying to improve with all of the little things, and taking on a greater role on and off the court,” Mitchell-Day said. Just trying to be the gel that holds this team together. The sky’s the limit.” 

Dartmouth will also return starters Dusan Neskovic ’24, who had 12.2 points per game in 2022-23, and Jaren Johnson ’24, who had 4.5 points per game in 2022-23. 

Dartmouth’s 2023 recruiting class consists of Ben Brown ’27, who hails from Manchester, England, Patrick Tivnan Jr. ’27 from Charlotte, North Carolina and Niko Abusara ’27 of Chicago, Illinois. 

Brown is a product of the Manchester Grammar School and was named to the Elite Academy Basketball League First Team as a senior last year. He was selected for the NBA Academy Games and played club basketball with the Manchester Magic. 

Tvinan was named to All-State, All-District and All-Conference honors as a senior at Charlotte Catholic High School. He also led the Cougars to a sectional state tournament championship in the 2022-23 season, where he averaged 16.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. 

Abusara averaged 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists as a senior at Benet Academy. Over his final two years, he guided his team to records of 28-7 and 35-2. 

Mitchell-Day had high praise for his first-year running mates. 

“They all have a lot of potential,” Mitchell-Day said. “[Abusara] is an energetic guy, long and athletic. [Tivnan] is real strong and can shoot the ball well for someone at his position. [Brown] is just a solid point guard and learning to become a leader”. 

The first-years will have their opportunity to grow and improve throughout Dartmouth’s stacked season. The Big Green will compete in their usual 14 conference scheduled games against each Ivy League program, combined with a 13 game non-conference schedule. 

However, one matchup stands out. When Cornish was asked which matchup he is most excited for, he spoke without hesitation: “Princeton.” 

The Tigers will attempt to defend their Ivy League title after advancing to the NCAA Regional Semifinal last season, but falling at the hands of the Creighton University Bluejays before they could make it. Along the way, the Tigers defeated 2-seed and perennial hoops powerhouse, the University of Arizona Wildcats. Last season, the Big Green split their matchups with Princeton, losing 93-90 in overtime on the road, and defeating the Tigers 83-76 in Hanover on Jan. 21 and Feb. 11, respectively. 

However, one line on the schedule stands out above the rest: a matchup with the Duke Blue Devils on Nov. 6 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The mention of the Blue Devils alone conjures images of legends: Mike Krzyzewski, Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, JJ Redick, Shane Battier and Jay Bilas. As the Big Green march into Cameron Indoor, not only do they face the pressure of playing the second-ranked team in the country in front of the notorious Cameron Crazies, but they must also walk into a stadium of decades-long history of success for the Blue Devils. 

“It’s just a blessing and an opportunity that not many people get to experience in their lifetime,” Cornish said.

The game will tip at 9 p.m. and will be televised on ACC Network. This game will be the Big Green’s first matchup against a ranked opponent since they faced No. 22 the University at Buffalo on Nov. 21, 2018 and their first matchup against a Top-5 opponent since Nov. 28, 2006, when they visited the University of Kansas. It will also be men’s basketball’s first matchup with the Blue Devils ever. 

However, despite this excitement, the team’s goals and focus remain the same. 

“[Our] overall goal is easy: top 4 in the Ivy League,” assistant coach Jabari Trotter ’12 said. “And then it’s winning an Ivy League championship and going to the Big Dance.”