A Little Info on the Dartmouth Women
Dartmouth Coach Chris Wielgus knows that if her team is fortunate enough to make it to the NCAA tournament, the competition that the Big Green faces in the Ivy League is not going to properly prepare it for what it will see in the first round of the NCAA's. So every year, Wielgus puts together a challenging nonconference schedule to expose her players to teams that are faster, stronger and more athletic, and to arenas that are bigger and flashier than their modest Leede Arena (capacity: 2,100).
This season, the Big Green (18-10) played at Temple, SMU and Arkansas, and it faced Michigan State on a neutral court (losing in overtime, 60-52). Dartmouth also hosted Boston College (an 85-51 loss). In senior guard Koren Schram's career, the Big Green has played at Vanderbilt, Michigan, Colorado and Virginia Tech. It has also faced Duke and Marquette.
Wielgus hopes that experience will help 16th-seeded Dartmouth when it takes the court at Comcast Center against top-seeded Maryland on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
"There's nothing I can do in practice to simulate what it's like to play at Arkansas, at SMU, at Temple," Wielgus said in a conference call on Tuesday. "In order to grow as a team, you can't just stay up here in the Northeast and play Northeast competion....Playing a difficult schedule is like going to the dentist: You find out what's wrong and you work on it."
The Big Green, which has seven sophomores and freshmen on the roster, lost nine of its first 12 games. But those trials toughened Dartmouth up, and it has gone 15-1 since. Sophomore point guard Megan McFee (5.2 points, 2 assists per game) has improved her ballhandling and defense, according to Wielgus. Sophomore Brittney Smith, a 6-foot-1 forward, was named Ivy League player of the year after averaging 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds. Schram, a 5-7 guard, averaged 12.1 points and shot 34.1 percent from three-point range (62 of 182).
"People think of the Ivy League, and think that you pass the ball 45 times and take a three. We get ourselves to the rim; we made more free throws  than our opponents have taken . We're an aggressive defensive team, we pride ourself on the defensive end," said Wielgus, whose team led the league in scoring defense (55.1 points) and field goal percentage defense (.367). "There's an assumption that Ivy kids are not as passionate about basketball, that they spend more time in the library than in the gym. My kids have shot free throws in the driveway and schoolyard as little girls, they've lifted just as many weights as anyone else."
This is the Big Green's lowest seed since the tournament expanded to 64 teams; it has been a No. 14 seed four times (1995, 1999, 2005, 2006) and a No. 13 seed once (2000). Dartmouth lost to Virginia, Rutgers (twice), Purdue and Connecticut in those trips to the NCAA tournament.
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