Tom Zamonski (@tomzamonski)
Record: 19-14 (13-5); lost to James Madison in CAA semi-finals 58-57
The Skinny: Delaware’s season started on a high with the Blue Hens going 2-1, including an upset over UVA, and secured a trip to the NIT Season Tip-Off in New York City. The Blue Hens then hit rough stretch and dropped seven of eight. But once conference play began, Monté Ross coached the Blue Hens to a No. 2 seed in the CAA tournament. After winning their opening round game of the CAA tourney, the Blue Hens lost to eventual CAA champ JMU in a 58-57 defeat.
1. Setting records: Delaware won 13 games in CAA play. This season was the most wins that the Blue Hens have ever had since joining the conference back in the 2001-02 season. The program’s previous high was set last year when the team won 12 conference games. Senior Jamelle Hagins set the school’s career record in blocked shots last season but the senior added to his record, finishing with 292 rejections. The forward did break the school’s rebounding record, ending his career with 1,078 boards. He surpassed Spencer Dunkley’s 916-rebound mark to become the school’s top rebounder.
2. Guard play: Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt developed into one of the best guard tandems in the CAA. Saddler led the CAA in scoring at 19.9 ppg and had scored in double-figures in 33 straight games until scoring just seven in that loss to JMU. The junior was named first team all-conference. Threatt become a more consistent player, leading the team in assists (3.2 apg) and steals (1.8 spg). The sophomore was also second on the team in scoring (13 ppg) and rebounding (5.7 rpg). Threatt was named to the All-CAA Third Team.
3. Playing on the national stage: Delaware pulled off a huge upset by knocking off the University of Virginia on its home floor in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The win sent the Blue Hens to the school’s first ever trip to Madison Square Garden. In their first game in MSG, Delaware nearly pulled off another huge upset over Kansas State. Hagins pulled down 15 first half rebounds, but cramps kept him off the floor for most of the second half. Saddler nearly led the team to victory with a game-high 32 points, but the Blue Hens fell 66-63.
High Point: In Delaware’s final home game of the season, the Blue Hens rallied to knock of George Mason–the first time they have ever swept the Patriots–and clinched the No. 2 seed in the CAA tournament. The win was the fourth straight for Delaware and it seemed that the Blue Hens were poised for a run at the CAA crown.
Low Point: On Dec. 8 the Blue Hens hosted in-state rival Delaware State. Delaware was up by two after freshman guard Terrell Rodgers sank two free throws and seemed that the Blue Hens were assured the victory, but Amere May hit a late 3-pointer to send the game to overtime. Delaware State won the game in the extra session and sent the Blue Hens to a 3-7 mark and their sixth loss in seven games.
Best Game: The Blue Hens traveled to Atlanta to take on Georgia State on Jan. 12. Georgia State took a 42-37 lead into half, but the Blue Hens went ahead 78-68 with just under three minutes to go. The Panthers then made a run and knotted the game up at 83-all with just six seconds remaining, but that was plenty of time for Devon Saddler. Saddler ran the length of the floor, spotted up and buried a deep three to give Delaware the 86-83 victory at the buzzer.
3 things that went well
1. The free throw line: Delaware was the top free throw shooting team in the CAA and was 16th in the country at 75.4 percent. The Blue Hens scored 25.5 percent of their points from the line, the fourth highest percentage in the country.
2. Blocking shots: Hagins led the CAA in blocks with 2.4 bpg and was rewarded with the CAA Defensive Player of the Year award. The Blue Hens as a team blocked 11 percent of their opponents’ shot attempts, 88th in the nation.
3 Scoring: Saddler led the league in scoring and was tied for 15th in the country with 19.9 ppg. The junior eclipsed the 20-point mark 16 times and the 30-point mark twice. Delaware was the highest scoring team in the CAA at 69 ppg. The Blue Hens lowest scoring mark was 57, but Delaware scored surpassed the 70-point mark in 15 games.
3 Things that Didn’t Go Well
1. Shooting: Delaware was 271st in effective field goal percentage at 46.3 percent. The Blue Hens struggled from behind the arch shooting just 30.9 percent which ranked them 296th in the country and was ninth in the CAA. Delaware also only averaged 4.4 3-pointers made per game, which was tied for the basement in the conference. Delaware was 227th in two-point shot percentage at 46.6 percent.
2. Turnovers: The Blue Hens only forced opponents to turn the ball over on 15.9 percent of their possessions, 331st in the country. Delaware also had a turnover margin of -1.91, eighth in the CAA. The Blue Hens had a turnover-to-assists ratio of 0.8, ninth in the conference.
3. Depth: Delaware’s bench played was 326th in percentage of minutes played at 22 percent. No player outside of the team’s starting five averaged more than four points a game. Outside of Carl Baptiste, no other reserve on the team pulled down more than 2.0 rebounds per game. This became a major problem when Hagins was battling cramp issues, which Ross admitted cost his team a few games, and Josh Brinkley was suffering with injuries.
Jamelle Hagins will be a tough to replace as the senior leaves as one of the program’s most decorated players. The forward ends his Delaware career as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots and rebounds. The senior was also a 1,000-plus point scorer.
Josh Brinkley, Hagins’ frontcourt mate, will also be graduating. The senior averaged 7.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg. Brinkley’s numbers dipped a bit from a year ago because of some injury problems, but the senior was a solid contributor to Delaware’s frontcourt.
Will Townsville’s senior year was his most successful as a Blue Hen. The senior played in a career-high 13 games while averaging 0.3 ppg and 0.9 rpg. Brendan McNulty appeared in four games during his senior year. The four year team member averaged 1.3 minutes a game and 0.3 steals a game in those four games.
Maurice Jeffers redshirted during this season. The Washington, D.C. product is a 6-9, 215-pound forward that averaged 4.4 ppg in his senior year at Calvin Coolidge High School. He once posted a triple-double with 20 points, 21 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Barnett Harris is a 6-8, 195-pound forward from Monroeville, Pa. He went to Fishburne Military School (Va.) after graduating from Gateway High School. Harris averaged 12 ppg, 7.4 rpg and 2.2 bpg during his senior season at Gateway.
Zacarry Douglass is 6-7 forward from National Christian Academy (Md.) Rivals.com has him listed as a 3-star recruit, while Maxpreps.com has him as the 28th ranked player from the state. Douglas had offers from Seton Hall, Towson, and George Mason. He was also being recruited by the University of Maryland.
Cazmon Hayes is a 6-4 shooting guard from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology (N.C.) Maxpreps.com has Hayes pegged as the 33rd-ranked player from the Tarheel State. According to the site, Hayes averaged 15.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 1.5 apg during his junior season.
DeVarte Watson is a 6-7 forward from Oakbrook Prep (S.C.) During his junior season, the forward averaged 16 ppg, 14 rpg and 4 bpg. Watson was the 71st ranked player in the state and the seventh ranked forward. He was also received offers from Winthrop, Citadel, USC Upstate, Gardner- Webb and Appalachian State.
Devonne Pinkard is a 6-6 forward from J.P. McCaskey High School in Lancaster, Pa. The senior was rated as a two-star recruit by ESPN. In his senior year, Pinkard averaged 18.1 ppg and sunk 50 treys. The forward scored 1,303 points during his career at JP McCaskey High School. Pinkard was considering other CAA schools in James Madison and Drexel.
2013-14 Outlook: The Blue Hens’ starting backcourt in Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt, and Kyle Anderson will all be returning, however, Delaware loses its starting frontcourt in Jamelle Hagins and Josh Brinkley. Saddler and Threatt should be able to remain one of the top guard tandems in the CAA with their ability to score.
However, the Blue Hens’ frontcourt will be a huge question mark. Carl Baptiste is the only penciled in starter as of right now. Ross will have to lean on Marvin King-Davis, Larry Savage or one of his incoming freshmen to step up next year to fill the void left by Hagins. Delaware should be able to finish amongst one of the top teams of the CAA next season with one of the league’s most exciting players in Saddler, but defense will ultimately determine the Blue Hens’ fate.
In a much different-looking CAA, Delaware will have its hands full trying but should be able to stay among of top teams in the conference. Towson will return one of the top players in the league in Jerrelle Benimon, while Drexel, Northeastern and defending champ JMU will be returning key players.