Alex Mitola ’16 may be small for a basketball player, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a force to be reckoned with. The five-eleven, 165-pound point guard has already had a standout first season and plans to further strengthen the Dartmouth men’s basketball team in years to come.
Mitola began at Dartmouth as a point guard, a leadership role almost unheard of for a freshman. Nonetheless, his stats suggest that this decision has boded well for him he already ranks first on the team for assists and playing time, and second for scoring.
Mitola began playing basketball as young as age three, when he would shoot with his father and older brother. In middle and high school, he competed on a traveling team and further developed his basketball skills, leading his high school team to the New Jersey state finals.
Mitola saw an opportunity to bolster the Dartmouth basketball program as he considered where to play next.
“Academically what it has to offer is second to none,” he said. “In terms of basketball, it gave me the opportunity to take part in rebuilding a program, and to bring some notoriety to Dartmouth basketball.”
Head basketball coach Paul Cormier recruited Mitola with similar objectives in mind.
“When I first got a chance to talk to him, we knew he would be an individual that could help us rebuild the basketball program and not accept losing, yet be able to adjust to the fact that maybe at first we wouldn’t be able to win as many games as he’s used to,” Cormier said.
Mitola had to adjust to not only a new team and life in Hanover, but to playing point guard, as he had been a shooter in high school.
Mitola found that his transition to be fairly smooth, due to the relative youth of the team.
“Our team is one of the youngest teams in the country, so [the freshmen] were very welcome to the team from the first day and treated like we were part of the team,” Mitola said. “Still, it was a little different. It was different playing with new people and developing chemistry with them on the court.”
Mitola demonstrated dedication to the game and an unfailing work ethic as soon as he stepped foot in Berry Sports Center.
“He’s a really motivated, hard worker,” teammate Will McConnell ’15 said. “He’s always shooting in the gym before practice, and he does pool workouts so that he can stay in shape. He definitely goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
Mitola exhibits his competitive mindset, with what Gabas Maldunas ’15 calls a “winner’s mentality.”
“Off the court he’s a really nice guy and very approachable,” McConnell said. “But on the court he’s got that competitive fire.”
This dedication, coupled with his strong skills, has allowed Mitola to quickly rise to a leadership position on the team.
“He works very, very hard at the game, and he is very dedicated and skilled,” Cormier said. “Those things in themselves got respect from his teammates. So he’s a leader through not only being thrown into the position of point guard, but he’s also earned his leadership from example.”
Mitola’s teammates said he motivates them to work hard continuously.
“He runs the show on the court as a point guard, but he does the same off of the court,” McConnell said. “He makes people want to be shooting and doing extra stuff in the gym after practice. He leads by example because of his work ethic.”
Although Mitola’s freshman year has been impressive, he remains unsatisfied with his team’s performance. With a 6-16 record, shaped by six losses and only two wins in Ivy League play, the team leaves room for improvement.
“I play basketball to win games and if the team isn’t winning, I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job,” Mitola said. “I think we’re all kind of disappointed in the way the season has been going because we wanted to win more games.”
Regardless, Cormier has high expectations for Mitola and the team in the next three years.
“I can see him as being a major catalyst to the improvement that we’re going to have starting this year, and as progressing right through his senior year,” Cormier said. “I hope that by his junior or senior year, we’re going to be one of the top teams in the league.”