Previewing the non-conference opponents: Dartmouth

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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.

  • VinBick

    This cupcake opening game should always involve a New Jersey school for greater fan interest: Monmouth, FDU, and Rider are perfect teams for such situations.

    • Joe Schmoe

      Why not Rutgers? NJ opening day kickoff for both teams….

      • VinBick

        Agree, why not? With Rutgers rated as the worst Division I team this year, it will have to be considered a “cupcake” and a good tune up game for a Big East team.

      • Playing a rival in an opening game is never a great idea… I’m sure most coaches outside of the top-10/15 schools prefer tune-ups to get their team ready for tougher competition.

        • Joe Schmoe

          I dont see why its such a bad idea. It would spark a lot of interest, be on TV, and wont make a spit of difference in either teams season in the grand scheme of things.

  • fouline

    Even though our OCS comes off a shelf at a bakery, it’s still an opportunity to see what kind of team we have. Personally, I hope we come out and play to win and destroy Dartmouth. Set the tone for the year… so to speak.

    • Interesting pre-season KenPom ratings: 3 top-60 opponents (with more to come if SH beats Long Beach State) and 6 sub-200 opps. USF is No. 186

  • PadrePirate

    Chris, glad to discover your new site! SOJ is just not the same anymore…

    How does our OCS rate overall? Below, you say 3 top-60 and 6 sub-200. Doesn’t sound too good. How does this year’s OCS compare with last years? I know philosophies differ, but too light an out of conf schedule doesn’t challenge the team to grow early on and prepare them for BE play.

    PS Any chance of you profiling each one of our new players these next few weeks?

    • Glad to have you back aboard! I recognize the username.

      I’ll give my final verdict on the OCS after I preview each opponent, but as you’ll see with tomorrow’s preview of Long Beach State, the Pirates need to win in the first round of the Charleston Classic so that they meet up with Virginia and another top-75 caliber team regardless of that outcome.

      That would make roughly 5 top-60s and 6 sub-200s, which is an improvement from a year ago (which was an improvement from years past).

      As for profiling new players, I have a few in-depth interviews of Dalton Soffer (search his name on this site), but I’m not able to attend Seton Hall Media Day tomorrow due to work, so I can’t offer anymore more than that.

      Perhaps I’ll post a brief expectation piece on each incoming player prior to the season opener.

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