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Winter sports shutdown prompts transfer for Dartmouth shooting guard

  • Dartmouth's Brendan Barry drives into the lane against Yale's Trey Phills in the first half of their game in Hanover, N.H., on Feb. 2, 2019. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Brendan Barry

  • Brendan Barry practices with the Dartmouth men's basketball team in the Leede Arena at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on Jan. 24, 2019. After 15 games, Barry leads the team with a 52 percent three-point shooting average. (Valley News - Joseph Ressler) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/19/2020 11:46:07 PM
Modified: 11/19/2020 11:45:56 PM

HANOVER — James Foye still recalls the night classmate and teammate Brendan Barry made his skills known their freshman year.

The Dartmouth College men’s basketball team was set to host Marist at Leede Arena the next day, and the Big Green gathered for final preparations. Barry was assigned to the scout team and told by the coaching staff to shoot as much as he wanted, trying to mimic Marist’s best player. The goal of the drill was for the starting five to get one stop against Barry and the scout team and then practice would wrap up.

“He had the green light, which is a fun place to be on the scout team,” Foye recalled. “The drill just never ended. The coaches had to call it off.”

Barry scored on 12 consecutive possessions that practice. Foye said assistant coaches were giggling on the sidelines but also nervously wondering why they weren’t playing the freshman shooting guard.

The following night, Barry played four minutes and knocked down a 3-pointer, but by the end of the 2016-17 season he was averaging 18.2 minutes and 5.6 points a game.

Now Barry’s time playing for the Big Green is coming to an abrupt end. After the Ivy League announced last Thursday that it would not play winter sports, Barry opted to finish his playing career at Temple University as a grad transfer. He is to complete his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth on Dec. 4.

“If you went back and told me in March of 2019 that that was the last time suiting up for Dartmouth, I would’ve said you were crazy,” Barry said in a phone interview Wednesday from his home in Fair Haven, N.J., referring to the fact that he missed the 2019-20 season due to preseason hip surgery.

“It’s definitely heartbreaking. The most heartbreaking thing is I really thought we were at least going to be a top-three or -four team in the Ivy (League) and had a real chance at winning it.”

Barry won’t have that chance to make history — the last time Dartmouth won a league crown or went to the NCAA Tournament was 1959 — but he could have a go at playing in March Madness with the move down to Philadelphia.

The Ancient Eight has a stringent set of eligibility requirements that bar athletes from competing after earning their undergraduate degree. Dartmouth coach Dave McLaughlin encouraged Barry to look elsewhere so he would have the chance to play basketball this season, knowing that one of his best players could lose out on the chance if he stayed. There was nothing McLaughlin could do; Barry wanted to stay, but rules wouldn’t allow it, prompting the transfer to Temple.

The Owls finished 14-17 last season and play in the American Athletic Conference. Barry shoots well off the dribble and brings a level-headed attitude. He’s also fourth on the active career list among Division I players for accuracy from behind the arc at 44.5%. In his junior year at Dartmouth he led the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.20) and averaged 13.2 points a game.

The Owls have a schedule in place, and it looks like they’ll try to play. And because the NCAA is granting all athletes another year of eligibility, even if their team takes the court this season, Barry could feasibly play two years in Philadelphia. He’s not ready to make a decision on that now.

“My body feels great,” Barry said. “Playing a game is a lot different than working out, and you can’t really simulate that game speed. A lot of it is I’m mentally ready because I’ve learned a lot at Dartmouth.”

McLaughlin didn’t recruit Barry to Hanover; former Big Green coach Paul Cormier did. But McLaughlin honored the commitment, and Barry bought into the culture the coach was trying to foster.

Fast-forward almost five years later: Barry said on Wednesday that his decision to stick with Dartmouth for his final season of Ivy League eligibility was proof of how far the program has come. (He’d entered the NCAA transfer portal after junior year before choosing to stay in Hanover.)

The situation draws a comparison to Evan Boudreaux, who chose to sit out the 2017-18 season so he could grad transfer out of Dartmouth. Instead, Barry stuck with the Big Green because he believed in the trajectory of McLaughlin’s program.

“Me deciding to come back is a testament to (McLaughlin) as a coach and the culture he’s built,” he said. “If you know me, I grew up watching the Big East tournament, always dreamed of playing Power Five basketball. That decision to come back was because I truly had confidence in him and what he’s doing.”

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.

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