One of the final teams to release their schedule for the upcoming season — Long Island University is another school that has yet to release their schedule — Dartmouth and coach Paul Cormier have pieced together a pedestrian 14 game non-conference schedule that is highlighted with games at Illinois and St. John’s.
Ironically enough, however, the Big Green’s two most challenging games of the season will most likely come against Ivy League foe Harvard, rather than the two BCS teams on the slate.
While Dartmouth’s non-conference schedule is hardly challenging for many teams — even decent mid-major squads — it is a realistic one for them. This is a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 1998-99, and have averaged a meager 7.5 wins over the last 14 seasons. Case in point, their first three games of the season are at home against Lyndon State, Bryant, and UMass Lowell — several years ago these were all sub-Division 1 programs with Lyndon State still a Division 3 school.
Some mid-major programs of Dartmouth’s level take on the “triple AAA” approach — anytime, anyone, anywhere — in order to gain maximum exposure and attract prospective recruits. Cormier explains his scheduling philosophy, which is a different approach, yet looks to achieve the same goal: “My scheduling philosophy is to try and play games in areas we would like to recruit and also near the hometowns of our players.”
With nine games being played in the state of New Hampshire — eight at home in Hanover and one in Durham at the University of New Hampshire — one may infer that Cormier strives to recruit players around the New England area, however, seven of the 16 players on the roster are from either New York or New Jersey. It is worth nothing that three of their five road non-conference games are against Illinois, Northern Illinois, and IPFW, and two players do hail from Illinois.
The Big Green are one of the youngest teams in the country with just four upperclassmen on the roster.
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.