Well, here we are just over two weeks out from Seton Hall’s home-opener against Dartmouth.
As always, the off-season was brutal to endure at times, especially during August after the July recruiting period activity cooled off, but all of that is now behind us as a fresh season of Seton Hall hoops is just around the corner, starting with their exhibition against D-III Baruch College this Saturday at noon in Walsh Gym.
I’ll have a preview of that game up on Thursday morning, but first we’re going to dive into Seton Hall’s non-conference opponents, starting with the Big Green of Dartmouth.
A middle-tier Ivy League team last year, Dartmouth (14-15, 7-7; KenPom: 165) looks set to be around the same level this season in their sixth campaign under head coach Paul Cormier.
Roster subtractions: Gabas Maldunas (11.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Alex Mitola (12.4 ppg, 2.7 apg), John Golden (4.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
Returnees to watch: Connor Boehm (9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Miles Wright (7.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg), Malik Gill (6 ppg, 3.2 apg)
Key additions: [None]
The most notable turnover for Dartmouth since the spring includes the departures of big man Gabas Maldunas and sniper Alex Mitola. At 6-foot-9, the Lithuanian-born Maldunas was one of the better bigs in the Ivy last year and boasted a top-50 block percentage. Mitola, who is the high school teammate of Jaren Sina and left Dartmouth on a graduate transfer to George Washington, knocked down just shy of 2.5 threes per game and led his team in scoring.
Losing the only two players who averaged in double digits will be a challenge for Dartmouth to overcome, especially since they were below average in offensive efficiency (209th) and tempo (also 209th) a year ago.
One big positive for Paul Cormier is that he returns the majority of his “scholarship” players, including 5-foot-9 point guard Malik Gill (6 ppg, 3.2 apg). At 5-9, you better make up for your lack of size in other areas and Gill did just that last season by finishing 14th in the country in assist rate and third in steal percentage; Dartmouth was 20th as a team in steal percentage a year ago, largely due to the defensive prowess of Gill and wing Miles Wright (14th in steal%).
Still, Dartmouth shouldn’t be that tough of a test for Seton Hall. They have an undersized and unproven (besides Connor Boehm) frontcourt that has the potential to wilt against Angel Delgado and the Big Green will surely struggle to score in their first game without Alex Mitola and Gabas Maldunas.
With all the talk being about Seton Hall’s improvements on defense this offseason, I can see the Hall winning this one to the tune of something like 68-49, which should remind you of their 63-47 win over an offensively-inept Mercer a year ago.