Delaware Blue Hens (19-14 overall, 13-5 conference)
Projected starting five:
Sr. G Devon Saddler
Jr. G Jarvis Threatt
Jr. G Kyle Anderson
So. F Marvin King-Davis
Sr. F Carl Baptiste
Delaware’s frontcourt starters are both gone from last season: C Jamelle Hagins (11.6 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.4 bpg) and F Josh Brinkley (7.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
71.4 percent of scoring and 57.2 percent of rebounding
Sr. G Davon Usher (transfer from Mississippi Valley State)
Fr. F Maurice Jeffers (redshirt)
Fr. F Barnett Harris
Fr. G Cazmon Hayes
Fr. F Devonne Pinkard
Just like last year, the Blue Hens will be tested in non-conference play, and often away from home as only four home games are on tap. The best of them looks to be against Robert Morris at the end of November, while they have a home-and-home with Charleston Southern. The Blue Hens will travel to Richmond, Villanova, Notre Dame, and North Dakota State and Ohio State for the Gotham Classic before playing Bryant at Madison Square Garden. In CAA play, they have an interesting month of February that starts with four straight at home followed by four of five on the road.
Projected finish and outlook:
The Blue Hens took a big hit in the frontcourt from graduation, but they have a very experienced perimeter unit and that is reason enough to think they can contend again. While Hagins’ loss is huge, as he racked up the honors especially for his defense, Brinkley’s departure will be noticeable as well because although he was injured often, he was a warrior, an enforcer and more of an offensive threat than Hagins for most of their careers. Baptiste looks more ready to contribute than a year ago at this time, and late last season he played better when they needed more from him. King-Davis is the only other proven frontcourt player, which means newcomers have to contribute right away, and no one has emerged yet in early practice although they see some potential. The perimeter unit is in great shape with Saddler, one of the CAA’s best and a great leader. He is very driven and will be even more so since this is his last go-round, and he has good help starting with Threatt, who Ross thinks could rack up the assists. Threatt has the physical gifts and will drive often as he’s been known to get to the foul line, and with the offense being tweaked a bit given the personnel losses up front, that may favor him more. Anderson didn’t shoot quite as well last year as he did as a freshman, but he’s improved his skill set to where defenders can’t play him as just a shooter. Even with those three, Usher will have to get minutes as he led the SWAC in scoring last season. The Blue Hens have developed into a good defensive team, but Hagins helped erase some mistakes and the team knows they don’t have him anymore and must be better on the perimeter. They will be tested in non-conference play yet again, and last year they did well at overcoming the adversity from losing some games early. As a veteran team, they are well-prepared to tackle this challenge again and be in the mix for a conference title later in the season, continuing the good work Ross has done rebuilding them.