Monday, November 8, 2010

No. 8 Dartmouth Big Green

It wasn't pretty from start to finish in Hanover last season, but things got really tenuous at the start of the Ivy League season, when the Dartmouth players quit on then-coach Terry Dunn on the eve of the Big Green's meeting with Harvard.

Dunn got the axe, but not much changed down the stretch, as Dartmouth took down a couple 300+ Pomeroy teams at home, but suffered multiple, double-digit beatdowns en route to a last-place Ivy campaign.

Last Season: 5-23, 1-13 Ivy
Pomeroy Ratings: .0455 Win Pct (340th), 81.6 Offense (344th), 106.3 Defense (262nd)
Key Losses: G Robby Pride

Player Outlook:

New coach Paul Cormier has his work cut out for him. No one on Dartmouth's team hit an offensive rating of 95 last year and one of the three guys who stayed over 90 left for graduation. Cormier's first move to start this season was to cut a bunch of veteran players, none of whom had much Division I value, to carve out more space for six freshmen.

Ronnie Dixon should be the Big Green's primary scoring threat, as he proved he can handle an above-average level of possessions (22.4%), while maintaining an offensive efficiency rating near the team lead. He will be joined by sophomore R.J. Griffin, who might be the team's best returning shooter, but who will have to prove he can handle the increase minutes and possessions load.

The team's best perimeter defender, David Rufful, must refrain from being such a drag on his team offensively. Rufful used the most possessions and took the highest percentage of shots on the team last year, but had the lowest effective field goal percentage (40.2%) of any of the five starters. If Rufful presses less offensively this year, it should help his own numbers as well as the team's.

Where the pressure will really be on is up front, as Dartmouth enters the season with just three players on its roster above 6'5. Matt LaBove and Clive Weeden are strong rebounders with decent block rates, but they only have freshman Kevin Mulquin to back them up, which could lead to a lot of two guard, two swingmen, one big man lineups and long stretches where the Big Green can't get defensive stops effectively.

Given that Dartmouth's freshman class is guard and swingman heavy, loaded with potential shooters, the few of them that can crack the rotation should be poised to post roughly team-average efficiency ratings.

Team Outlook:

Expected Record: 5-23, 2-12 Ivy (8th)
Expected Efficiency Stats: .1243 Win Pct, 88.6 Offense, 107.0 Defense

Regression to the mean would indicate that Dartmouth has to improve a bit this year, and it's likely that they will just a bit. But that might not show up in the record, as the Big Green has just four non-conference home games and hasn't won an out-of-league road game since knocking off New Hampshire in overtime on Jan. 15, 2008.

There will be a lot of pressure on Dartmouth to get on the board with a win early as three of its six November contests are at home with eight of the next 10 on the road before Ivy weekends start up on Jan. 28. And many of the road games will be tough tests for a young team, including the season opener on the road at Providence and then later trips to Vermont, Iowa St. and Drake.

The Big Green should have an easier time settling into league play, with five of the first eight games at home, but with two road trips and a visit from Penn and Princeton to close out the season, wins might be tough to come by after Feb. 12th. Dartmouth might steal a couple early at Leede Arena, but face long odds to string together enough wins to leave the Ivy cellar.

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