Tom Zamonski (@tomzamonski)
Turnovers and a sluggish start were a lethal combination for the University of Delaware as the Blue Hens dropped their season opener to La Salle.
After the Blue Hens scored the first basket of the game, La Salle went on a 23-6 run, giving the Explorers a 15 point lead nearly nine minutes into the game. During that time, Delaware committed six of their 10 turnovers on the game.
“I thought (La Salle) used the energy from the crowd to get them going,” Blue Hens coach Monté Ross said.
However, Ross placed the blame on Delaware’s slow start to mental mistakes.
“To be quite honest I don’t think it was them,” Ross said, “I think it was us.”
The key mistake was turnovers. The Blue Hens started the game by giving the ball away eight times before La Salle committed its first turnover.
La Salle was able to overcome a late push by Delaware and win 73-66.
(See Also: CoBL staff photographer Anson Marsh’s gallery can be found here)
This is the seventh straight season opening loss for Delaware under Ross’ tenure.
It was a frustrating first half for Devon Saddler. The team’s leading scorer from last year could not get into a groove early on. He was held scoreless in the first half and missed the final eight minutes of the half due to foul trouble. To add to his frustration, Saddler was assessed a technical following his 3rd personal foul for arguing with the officials.
“One of the things that we talk to these guys about it that it’s not going to be your night every night, it won’t be your time every half,” Ross said, “and when it isn’t we need other people to step up.”
Jarvis Threatt did just that, leading the Blue Hens with 12 points in the first half and finishing with a team-high 17.
Senior forward Jamelle Hagins said that he was not surprised to see Threatt take over as the leader of the offensive unit. Hagins explained that Threatt has made drastic mental improvements from last year.
“I just think the mental part of the game, just knowing what to do and what not to do,” Hagins said. “Simple things… when to take open shots and when to turn down shots.”
Coming off a season in which he was named to the CAA All-Rookie team, Threatt could develop into the team’s leading scorer. He averaged 10.7 points a game a season ago. Threatt also scored over 30 points twice, including 31 in a loss to Butler in the CBI.
Threatt’s strong play has caught the attention of his opponents. During this game Threatt was guarded by La Salle’s best perimeter defender in Ramon Galloway.
“Threatt was more of a scorer last year…we thought Ramon could bother him and disrupt their whole team,” La Salle coach John Giannini said.
This respect that Threatt received proves that Delaware now has three excellent players.
Hagins had another solid game for Delaware. He led the game in rebounds with 14 and scored 12 points. The big man for the Blue Hens also registered five blocks.
Although Saddler had a terrible first half, he came out strong in the second. Saddler went on to score 14 points including a dunk to give Delaware a 51-50, the Blue Hens first since leading 2-0.
With those 14 points, Saddler now has 1,018 points. That puts him now in 26th place on Delaware’s career scoring list, passing Brian Johnson (1,017) and Tom Carluccio (1,016).
Delaware’s next game will be against Penn on Nov. 12 at 9:30 in Charlottesville, Va. The game is part of the NIT Season-Tip-Off.