Delaware Blue Hens (14-17, 8-10)
Projected starting five:
So. G Devon Saddler
So. G Kaleb Clyburn
Fr. G Jarvis Threatt
Jr. F-C Jamelle Hagins
Jr. F Josh Brinkley
G Jawan Carter (16.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg), G Brian Johnson (3.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg), G D.J. Boney (3.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg)
55 percent of scoring and 71.9 percent of rebounding
Fr. G Kyle Anderson
Fr. F Marvin King-Davis
Fr. G Khalid Lewis
Fr. F Larry Savage
Fr. G Jarvis Threatt
The nonconference slate isn’t full of world-beaters, but tough trips to Villanova and Boston University are on tap as well as a home date with Temple. Notable in the CAA slate is that they play Drexel and George Mason twice and have James Madison only on the road, although they only get Old Dominion at home.
Projected finish and outlook:
The Blue Hens lost a lot with the departures of Carter and Johnson, although the latter was never the same player after his torn ACL two years ago. They have two of the best players in the conference in Saddler and Hagins, and some good pieces up front, so the cupboard isn’t bare. Hagins is one of the conference’s best defensive players, and he’ll be needed more at that end this year with the inexperience in the backcourt. Offensively, he looks improved thus far, and if he became a more reliable post scorer it would really help the offense this time around.
Brinkley was playing well last year before injuries conspired to bring his season downhill, while the X-factors are Kelvin McNeil and Hakim McCullar, especially McNeil as he can be a live body making plays. Where they need someone to emerge is in the backcourt alongside Saddler, a talented, tough leader who already has the idea that this is his team. Clyburn is a capable floor leader who came back in better shape, while Anderson, Lewis and Threatt will all have chances to play right away and it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them supplants Clyburn in the starting lineup. Delaware became a better defensive team last season, and that helped them progress. They’ll need to keep that up unless a couple of solid complements emerge at the offensive end, as this team might miss Carter at the times where they really need a basket.