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Tough Task for New Dartmouth Men’s Basketball Coach

New Big Green Coach Ready to Roll Up His Sleeves

  • After a news conference, the new Dartmouth men’s basketball head coach, David McLaughlin, stands with his children Colin, 6, Sydney, 9, and Ryan, 8, at the college on April 27, 2016 in Hanover N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth Director of Athletics and Recreation Harry Sheehy, right, talks about the new men’s basketball head coach, David McLaughlin, left, during a news conference at the college on April 27, 2016 in Hanover N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The new Dartmouth men’s basketball head coach, David McLaughlin during a,news conference at the college on April 27, 2016 in Hanover N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The new Dartmouth men’s basketball head coach, David McLaughlin speaks to the media after a news conference at the college on April 27, 2016 in Hanover N.H. McLaughlin's children Sydney,9, and Colin, 6, watch the interview. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hanover — David A. McLaughlin hails from Brockton, Mass., the same rough-and-tumble town that produced noted boxers Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler. So the new Dartmouth College men’s basketball coach isn’t about to back down from a challenge. He’s certainly got one on his hands in attempting to lift the Big Green towards the top of the Ivy League standings.

McLaughlin, 41, who made his first public appearance as an Ivy League bench boss Wednesday morning, replaces Paul Cormier, who was fired last month following his second stint at the college. That was a six-year stretch during which the program was 55-116 overall and 23-61 in league play.

Speaking to roughly 100 people in Floren Varsity House, McLaughlin generated the usual anticipation and enthusiasm that surrounds a team’s fresh start. The proof on whether hiring the former Northeastern University assistant and Stonehill (Mass.) College head coach was a good one will not come for several years. However, athletic director Harry Sheehy said McLaughlin emerged from a deep and highly-qualified candidate pool.

Sheehy and executive athletic director Brian Austin interviewed a dozen candidates in Houston during the NCAA Division I Final Four weekend. Several more were put through their paces in Boston. Sheehy noted that while his coaching searches usually involve bringing in three finalists for on-campus interviews, this time he authorized five such visits.

“Paul dragged us out of the mud, so it was seen as a much better job this time,” said Sheehy, who was hired shortly after Cormier in 2010. “Paul had to take a pretty bad program and fight tooth and nail to get it out of the muck. It’s clear that (coaches) understand this is a different job now, so there was more interest.”

Said McLaughlin: “It’s attractive to me because of the leadership that’s in place here. Because of the resources that are available to these players, both physical and holistic. There’s no reason you can’t recruit young men and tell them you’re going to develop them fully here. I think the resources put in place here the last three or four years are comparable to any in the league.”

Many wouldn’t include Leede Arena on that list. Long derided as a gymnasium more suited to a high school than a prestigious college, it’s also half empty on many game nights.

“We can create a home court advantage there,” McLaughlin said. “I want it to be a hard place for other Ivy League teams to come in and play. It’s going to take time and a lot of engagement of the community.”

What about the arena’s lack of obvious amenities? The new coach is focusing more on those behind the scenes.

“There’s not a better (coaches’) office space or team room in the Ivy League,” he said. “The kids come in and they see top-level video equipment and when you’re on a court, you’re on a court. They’re all the same.”

Unlike Cormier and his predecessor, Terry Dunn, McLaughlin didn’t mention winning an Ivy League title during his introduction. He instead said his teams will “work hard, work smart and work together” and promised to play an up-tempo style where the ball is quickly pushed into the offensive end and multiple screens and cuts are used to generate an attack.

“We want to play with space and pace and keep the floor open,” he said. “The ball is made to share. On defense, we’ll protect the paint and play with passion.”

Cormier attempted to run an up-tempo offense last season, but backed away after the Big Green struggled in the early going. Point guard execution was not a Dartmouth strength, so how McLaughlin addresses that deficiency will be of keen interest to the several hundred fans who regularly attend home games.

“You can recruit anyone,” he said. “You have to educate them on what type of experience it’s going to provide for them. We’re going to recruit a lot of diverse student-athletes here.”

McLaughlin referred to those players already enrolled as his top priority and said he will work to improve and inspire them the remainder of the school year. Evan Boudreaux, a freshman forward recently named the Ivy League’s Rookie of the Year, said he thinks the returnees will buy in.

“His basketball knowledge is great and he’s committed to building relationships with us,” said Boudreaux, who was Cormier’s highest-profile recruit. “Every guy on this team has limitless expectations, especially with the new Ivy League tournament being instituted. There may be growing pains with the new coach, but we’re excited to work and come out strong next year.”

Notes: McLaughlin said he attended Deerfield Academy in northwest Massachusetts for a postgraduate year in the hopes of attending Dartmouth, but instead wound up at Maine’s Colby College. His coach there, Dick Whitmore, attended Tuesday’s introduction and was asked by McLaughlin to stand and be recognized. … McLaughlin’s young daughter and two sons attended the event and Sheehy asked one of the sons, Colin, what his favorite sport is. “Baseball,” replied the youngster, drawing laughter. … McLaughlin said he hopes to increase attendance in part by frequently staging local youth and coaches clinics. … McLaughlin attended Boston College High in the Dorchester section of Boston. He noted that it was tough to watch his childhood friends have extensive sports success at Brockton High, but said his parents were focused on education.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.