COLLEGES: Former Stonehill coach David McLaughlin looks to turn Dartmouth around

by Jim Fenton

He came close on two occasions to delivering a national men’s basketball championship to Stonehill College.
Brockton native David McLaughlin guided the Skyhawks to the NCAA Division 2 Final Four in 2006 and 2012 before losing to Winona State and Western Washington.

Hired as the interim head coach at the age of 28 in the middle of the 2003-04 season, McLaughlin brought the program to new heights during nine-plus years.

After leaving Stonehill to become the associate head coach at Northeastern University for three seasons, McLaughlin is now in charge of his own program again, this time in the Ivy League.

McLaughlin is midway through his debut year at Dartmouth College, which has not had a winning record since going 14-12 in the 1998-99 season.

The BC High and Colby College graduate has plenty of work to do at the Hanover, N.H., school and is eagerly taking on the challenge.

McLaughlin returns to Massachusetts on Saturday afternoon when Dartmouth (3-11, 0-1 in the Ivy League) plays at Harvard University.

“My family and I are extremely happy here,″ said McLaughlin. “The people here are great. The coaches are really good. The league is really competitive in play and recruiting.

“It’s what I was looking for, a great challenge, but in the type of place where you feel supported.

“We have a lot of support from the top down in terms of wanting to see this program win and a lot of resources in place.″

McLaughlin, who went 189-99 with five trips to the NCAAs at Stonehill, sees some similarities in the Dartmouth situation to the school where he began his head coaching career.

“Like Stonehill and Easton a little bit, Hanover is Dartmouth, part of the town, part of the fabric,″ said McLaughlin. “We have that similar community support with the staff being tied into the community.

“The athletic department is similar to Stonehill as well with everyone working for each other, everyone wants what’s best for the student-athletes and what’s best for each program. It’s really a neat thing.″

Hired in late April, McLaughlin is well aware it is going to take some time to get Dartmouth developed into an Ivy League winner.

There is recruiting to be done and a system to get put firmly in place.

“We told the guys we’re not going to be goal-oriented, we’re going to be process-oriented,″ said McLaughlin. “I think it’s important to look at that.

“How did we practice today? Did we get better? Are we making great relationships so the trust is there and we can coach them the way we want? When that’s there consecutive days and weeks, that’s when you see improvement.″

Dartmouth lost its first nine games under McLaughlin before winning three in a row. One of the victories came at Bryant University last month with several of his former colleagues at Stonehill on hand.

This weekend, there should be more familiar faces when McLaughlin takes his team into Lavietes Pavilion to take on Harvard.

It’s another part of the process to turn the fortunes of the Big Green around for the former Stonehill coach.

“It’ll be nice to be in the Boston area,″ said McLaughlin.

Jack Benoit