Revamped Lineup Works Wonders
Dartmouth co-captain Jvonte Brooks, second from right, watches last night’s action from the bench. The sophomore was benched by head coach Paul Cormier despite starting the previous 17 contests this season. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth forward Connor Boehm lunges towards the basket last night against the defense of Yale’s Matt Townsend, left, and Javier Duren (20). (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The time had come for tough love, and so the starting lineup for the Dartmouth College men’s basketball team during last night’s Ivy League game against visiting Yale was a bit of an eye-opener.
Brandon McDonnell? Tyler Melville? Really?
Sure thing. Coach Paul Cormier had reached his limit with pouting and slouching, self-pity and selfishness. Therefore, mainstays like Gabas Maldunas and Jvonte Brooks didn’t head out for the opening tip. Heck, Brooks, a sophomore co-captain who had started each of the previous 17 games this season, never left the bench.
“You come to a point, even though we have a young team, where our guys should know better and I’m not tolerating it,’’ Cormier said after his team beat Yale, 71-62, for just its third league victory during the last three seasons and its first in eight tries against the Bulldogs. “It’s a litany of things that have happened in practice the last week.
“Some individuals have been all about themselves. I let it go for a night and we paid a price.’’
Cormier was referring to his team’s lackluster, 62-50 loss to visiting Brown on Friday. The Bears were the only Ivy foe Dartmouth beat last winter, but they looked like world-beaters against the Big Green this time around.
“We didn’t come ready to go and we had people who just weren’t about us,’’ said Cormier, whose team is 5-13 overall and 1-3 in the Ivies and dropped Yale to 7-14, 1-3.
Last night was about fun. The Big Green led 27-20 at halftime and pushed its advantage to as many as 15 points during the second half. Maldunas responded to his initial sit-down with a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds. The Lithuanian center also slammed home a pair of breakaways, prompting howls from an announced crowd of 1,007.
“We felt embarrassed after last night,’’ said freshman point guard Alex Mitola, who started and had 12 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. “Coach said he was going to play the guys who give it their all in practice every day and who play hard every possession.
“Obviously, we’re a better team with (Maldunas and Brooks) on the court, but coach feels they aren’t buying in completely. I’m sure they’ll be motivated and they’ll prove themselves at practice and find their way back into the lineup.’’
Dartmouth shot 51 percent from the floor, while limiting Yale to 35 percent. The Big Green is often outscored in the paint, but last night it forged a 36-20 advantage there and its defense led to an 8-0 advantage in fast-break points.
“Good defense can spark your offense and you saw that tonight,’’ Mitola said. “When we’re playing in transition, it’s much better than when the (opposing) defense has time to get back and clog the middle.’’
Minutes after he and his teammates strode triumphantly off the Leede Arena floor, Mitola made a quick foray into the lobby to greet his parents, who were visiting from New Jersey. A flock of small children ran over to wish him well and offer congratulations. It’s the sort of small reward that Dartmouth players have come to appreciate after going a combined 10-48 the previous two seasons.
“We know we’re a better team that our record shows and we’ve been very inconsistent,’’ Mitola said. “We don’t want to be good in two years, we want to be good right now, and we’re looking at the Ivy League season as a new season and we want to be consistent the rest of the way.’’
Asked about this weekend’s games at Cornell and Columbia, Cormier shook his head slightly.
“That’s a tough trip, but I’m more concerned with Monday’s practice,’’ the coach said. “How are they going to treat it? There are some days you don’t feel like being here, but your teammates can’t let that go.
“Everybody has to be accountable for themselves and each other and that’s what developing a program is about.”
Dartmouth also received 11 points from John Golden and 10 from Connor Boehm. Yale was led by guard Austin Morgan, who had 20 points, nine more than his season average.
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3227.e_SRit