HANOVER, N.H. — The Ivy League conducted its men’s basketball teleconference call with the media today and released its preseason poll prior to the event with Dartmouth picked to finish in seventh place after tying for sixth last year in the Big Green’s first season under head coach David McLaughlin. Harvard edged out Yale for the top spot despite the Bulldogs receiving more first-place votes, while Princeton was close behind in third.
The Crimson (18-10, 10-4 Ivy in 2016-17), led by the 2017 Rookie of the Year Bryce Aiken, earned 121 points with six first-place votes. Yale (18-11, 9-5), bolstered by the return of guard Makai Mason after missing last year with an injury, was just three points behind with eight first-place votes. Last year’s conference champion, Princeton (23-10, 14-0), was pegged for third with 114 points with three first-place votes, comfortably ahead of Penn (13-15, 6-8) with 86.
The gap between teams widens from there with Columbia (11-16, 5-9) claiming fifth with 55 points, Cornell (8-21, 4-10) sixth with 48, Dartmouth (7-20, 4-10) seventh with 39 and Brown (13-17, 4-10) pulling up the rear with 31.
Dartmouth may have tied for sixth last year, but entered the final game of the season with an opportunity to claim the fourth and final berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, which was played at The Palestra. A loss at Princeton, which was finishing off a perfect league record, dashed those hopes and left the Big Green hungry for the chance to qualify for the tournament.
The Big Green feature a pair of former Ivy League Rookies of the Year in junior forward Evan Boudreaux (17.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg) and senior wing Miles Wright (9.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), the former of which led the Ancient Eight in rebounding and ranked second in scoring to earn USBWA All-District I honors for the second straight year. Junior guard Guilien Smith (12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg) emerged as a capable scorer last year, and sophomore Brendan Barry (5.6 ppg, 45.5 3-point percentage) gradually showed the ability to not only knock down long-range shots, but run the offense at the point as well.
“Evan had a statistically phenomenal year last season, but there are some categories he needs to improve upon, which includes taking care of the basketball,” McLaughlin said during the teleconference call. “Miles can fall into that category, too, in terms of valuing the ball. They both have become students of the game, really putting a lot of time into watching video and learning about themselves, seeing their game through the coaches’ eyes. They have a very serious mindset, taking a pro-like approach to the game. They know they can have a significant impact on games and our program, and they understand what they need to do defensively and offensively.”
Dartmouth has a stable of returning veterans outside of those four, including senior guards Taylor Johnson (career 40.7 3-point percentage) and Cameron Smith (17 starts as a sophomore), as well as sophomore guard Ian Sistare (15.6 minutes per game as a rookie). And with four freshmen joining the mix this season, McLaughlin is looking at creating ways to mesh the old with the new to improve the Big Green’s stock in the standings.
“Our practices have been much more competitive so far in the preseason,” McLaughlin added. “We have four first-year players, and all will have an impact in some way, shape or form. We will have young guys that will be playing early in the year, so there will be some mistakes. But it is going to be fun to see them blend with the returning players, who have done a great job educating the younger guys how we want to approach things to get them ready to be on the floor.”
The season opens up at Quinnipiac on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 2 p.m., and the home opener will take place three days later in Leede Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 14 against Emerson College at 7 p.m.