2012-13 Season Preview: Delaware Blue Hens

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Ross is entering his seventh season at the helm of the Delaware basketball program. (Photo: Mark Jordan)

Tom Zamonski (@tomzamonski)

A late-season 9-game winning streak let the CAA know that the Delaware Blue Hens would be a force to reckon with in 2012-13. Though they’re not quite as deep as their rivals in Philadelphia, the league’s best 1-2 combo should ensure at least a 20-win season in Newark with shot at the school’s first NCAA appearance since 1999.

(Monte’s Thoughts: Ross talked to CoBL’s Tom Zamonski for his feature on the 2013-12 Blue Hens)

Delaware Blue Hens Season Primer
Coach: Monté Ross, 7th season (71-117, .378)

Last Year: 18-14 (12-6 Colonial Athletic Association), Lost in CAA tournament quarterfinals (Old Dominion, 88-74), CBI first round (Butler, 75-58)

Key Losses: Khalid Lewis (5.2 ppg, 2.6 apg), Kelvin McNeil (2.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
As a freshman, Lewis appeared in all 32 games last year for the Blue Hens. He would have provided Coach Ross with some depth at point guard this year. Last year, he registered a season-high 18 points during a game against La Salle; he ended up transferring to La Salle in the summer. As a redshirt junior, McNeil played in every contest last year for Delaware. The 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward averaged 3 rebounds a game and shot 41.3 percent this past season. He graduated from Delaware in the spring but will play as a graduate student at UNC Greensboro this year.

New Faces: Terrell Rodgers (Charlotte, NC./Evelyn Mack Academy), Marvin King-Davis (Richmond, VA./Meadowbrook), Carl Baptiste (Pittstown, NJ./St. Joseph’s)
Rodgers is a 5-8, 160-pound guard who was an All-State selection while leading the state in scoring last year. He averaged 29.3 points per game as a senior, and once scored 56 points in a game during his junior year.

King-Davis is a 6-7, 210-pound forward from Richmond, V.A. King-Davis will take redshirt season for Delaware, sitting out the 2011-2012 season. During his senior season in high school, King-Davis averaged 22.6 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks during his senior season and was a McDonald’s All American finalist.

Baptiste, a redshirt-junior transfer from St. Joseph’s, is a 6-9, 245-pound power forward. During his freshman at St. Joe’s he played in 30 games for the Hawks. He was named Atlantic 10 Co-Rookie of the week for putting up 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks against Siena. He saw limited action during his sophomore year and appeared in only 17 games for Coach Martelli.

Hagins (left) will be the anchor of Delaware’s frontcourt.
(Photo: Mark Jordan)

Starting Frontcourt: Jamelle Hagins (12.4 ppg, 11.1 rbg), Josh Brinkley (8.7 ppg, 4.7 rbg)
Last year, Hagins led the CAA and was fifth in the nation in rebounds per game. He was also second in the CAA and ninth in the country with 2.97 blocks per game. A powerful athlete in the post, Hagins is a member of the Preseason All-CAA First-Team and is a CAA Player of the Year candidate. Brinkley was second on the team last year in rebounds per game. He shot 52.8 percent last year while registering double digit point totals 13 times.

Starting Backcourt: Devon Saddler (18.8 ppg, 80.2 free throw %), Jarvis Threatt (10.7 ppg, 2.3 apg), Kyle Anderson (8.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Saddler will be the Blue Hens number-one scoring threat, not to mention the best pure scorer in the entire conference. He was a preseason First-Team All-Conference selection this year after being honored as a second team selection back in 2011-12. Saddler was also second in the CAA and 27th in the country last year in points per game.

Coming off a strong freshman season where he was selected to the 2011-12 CAA All-Rookie Team, Threatt is expected to start at point guard this year. Last year he appeared in 31 games for Delaware, starting in two of those. He will help Saddler provide most of the scoring for the Blue Hens; he already has two career 30-point games. Threatt led the team with 41 steals, second in assists with 70, and was fourth on the team with 3.9 rebounds per game.

Anderson is the top 3-point shooter on the team. Last year he averaged 2.2 threes per game, sixth in the CAA, and shot 34 percent from behind the arc, 13th in the CAA. Anderson also set the school record for most 3-pointers made by a freshman, 68.

Bench: Larry Savage (1.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg), Terrell Rodgers (true freshman), Marvin King-Davis (redshirt freshman), Carl Baptiste (redshirt junior)
Savage appeared in 27 games last year for Delaware. The sophomore forward averaged 7.3 minutes a game last year but is expected to see his minutes increase this year. Baptiste’s size and experience will make him the other member of Delaware’s frontcourt rotation. Savage and Baptiste will be Coach Ross’ key substitutes for when Hagins or Brinkley need a breather. As Rodgers and King-Davis gain more experience, they will help supply scoring and depth to an already talented backcourt.

Three Games to Watch: @ Duke (12/1), @ Old Dominion (1/5), vs. Drexel (2/21)
The Blue Hens travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to battle Coach K and the Cameron Crazies. The game will provide a wild atmosphere which will help out in CAA play, especially their game at Drexel. Old Dominion will be a tough CAA opener for Delaware since they are playing a team which swept them last year. They will make the trek to ODU where they lost 88-74 last season. Playing the Dragons at home will be one of the most important games on Delaware’s schedule. Last season Delaware beat their rival 71-60 at home but lost 71-55 at Drexel. This game has major CAA postseason seeding implications as Drexel was projected to finish first in the CAA ahead of Delaware.

Three Keys to Success:
1. The Bench: The Blue Hens depth this year will be a huge question mark. Delaware’s bench currently has only one player that played in more than nine games last year. The bench last year only played 25.4 percent of the minutes, good enough for 277th in the country. Freshmen Rodgers and King-Davis will have to mature quickly for the Blue Hens, just as Threatt did last season. If they can become significant contributors for Delaware then the bench should not be too much of a concern.

2. Rebounding: The Blue Hens have a solid rebounder in Hagins. He led the conference in rebounds and helped lead Delaware to earn a ranking of 39th in the country with 37.4 rebounds per game. However, there is room for improvement. Last year Delaware allowed opponents too many second chances as opponents gathered 33.6 percent of offensive rebounds per game, ranked 235th in the country. If they can limit their opponents’ offensive rebounds then the Blue Hens can be one of the best rebounding teams in the nation.

Threatt’s consistency is key for the Blue Hens.
(Photo: Mark Jordan)

3. Threatt’s Consistency: If Threatt can stay consistent throughout the year, he and Saddler could make up one of the best scoring duos in the CAA. In the final eight games of last season Threatt averaged 19.6 a game including a season high 31 in their opening round loss to Butler in the CBI. Threatt’s consistency can also take some pressure away from Saddler. Last year Saddler took 32.3 percent of Delaware’s shots. This was the 29th highest percentage in all of college basketball. This duo will demand much attention which will open up opportunities for Hagins and Savage down low as well as their three-pointer specialist, Anderson.

CoBL Division I 2012-13 Season Primers: | Drexel Dragons | Delaware Blue Hens | La Salle Explorers | Lafayette Leopards | Lehigh Mountain Hawks | Penn State Nittany Lions | Penn Quakers | St. Joseph’s Hawks | Temple Owls | Villanova Wildcats |

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