Coming off back-to-back six-win seasons, the Dartmouth women’s basketball team was ready for a change at the helm. Enter Belle Koclanes, a proven recruiter and successful assistant coach from the Mid-Atlantic. The former Richmond Spiders guard cut her teeth sitting on the sidelines at Ivy League members Columbia and Penn before successful stints at Old Dominion and American.
Koclanes’ style of a balanced offense combined with an energetic man-to-man defense will make the Big Green an exciting team to watch in 2013-14. Prior to the season, the Big Green were selected fifth in the Ivy League preseason poll, a task that Koclanes is prepared to accept.
Another task the Big Green will have to overcome is scoring. Last season Dartmouth finished just above the 50 points per game threshold. With only Faziah Steen ‘13 not returning this season due to graduation, the Big Green return four starters who will enhance the development of the four newcomers.
Seniors Nicola Zimmer and Eve Zelinger will take over the roles of co-captains this season. Zimmer, a two-time captain, will be asked to run the point as the primary ball handler. Zelinger’s role will be to develop the underclassmen into future leaders, while also vying for a spot in the rotation.
A daunting task this season for the Big Green guards will be playing time. With 11 players hoping to land two or three spots on the court, the specialists’ role will be an important piece of the puzzle. Koclanes will ask the remaining reserves to be more oriented as defensive, three-point shooting, and rebounding specialists. Zimmer, the floor general, will also be asked to contribute more on the offensive side after finishing second in points (8.9), while also increasing her assist totals and lowering her turnover rate.
Freshman Fanni Szabo will look for starter minutes after arriving in Hanover from Budapest, Hungary. A three-point shooter with a quick release, Szabo brings the intensity that Koclanes is looking for in a spot-up shooter.
Junior Milica Toskovic played in all 28 games last season, but only made two starts. Toskovic’s ability to play the swing position will allow Dartmouth to use a bigger lineup. At 6-2, Toskovic can box out on the offensive glass leading to second-chance points and even shoot from the outside after she made 16 trifectas last year.
Another freshman to look out for is Katie Vareika out of South Easton, Mass. The 5-9 shooter played at nearby Tabor Academy and has a nice stroke from the outside.
Zelinger scored a career-high 16 points against Columbia as a sophomore, but saw limited minutes last season and is poised for a breakout year as a senior.
Junior Kamala Thompson started in all but one game last season with the hopes of being a well-seasoned upperclassman when her number is called. Other guards vying for time this season will be sophomores Kaitana Martinez, Sofia Roman and Jordyn Turner, Freshmen Chay Fuller and Moriah Morton round out the guards looking for minutes.
The Dartmouth frontcourt, unlike the backcourt, won’t be a logjam, as seven players will battle for two positions. Last season, four of the seven forwards played significant minutes averaging a combined six points per game and five rebounds per contest.
Junior Abbey Schmitt finished third in scoring, averaging 8.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. As a sophomore, Schmitt was a three-time Ivy Rookie of the Week and notched a career-high 18 points versus Syracuse on Nov. 29 and had 14 boards at Bryant earlier in the month. The Winnetka, Ill., native missed her entire freshman season with an injury and will now be called upon to play significant minutes as a starting forward.
Sophomore Lakin Roland has impressed the new coaching staff during training camp and is slated to be the other starting forward early on. Roland finished fifth in scoring, averaging 5.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. At 6-0, Roland will need to use her size and ability on the glass to help her team on both ends of the court.
A defensive threat for the Green, junior Tia Dawson led the team in blocks with 34 and rebounds averaging 7.5 on the year. She was also third in assists with 37. Her 5.4 points per night was fourth, as was her field goal percentage (38%). After two years of developmental work, Dawson needs to be a smart, mature player under the new system.
Sophomore Daisy Jordan is continuing to rehab from a season-ending injury and, once healthy, will join Schmitt and Dawson down in the paint. In 14 games last year, Jordan averaged 4.6 points per night and was one of the better free throw shooters, converting on 18-21 from the line.