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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Roster depth is key for Delaware men’s basketball this season

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Courtesy of Patrick LaPorte
Men’s basketball head coach Martin Ingelsby leads a deep and talented roster into the 2021-2022 season.

Managing Sports Editor

As the fall sports slate hits its peak at the university, the next group of sports ramps up for the Blue Hens, including the men’s basketball program.

The previous season ended earlier than expected after an exit in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament. The 2021-2022 campaign serves as a redemption opportunity for head coach Martin Ingelsby’s squad.

Since last spring’s season-ending loss to Hofstra, the Blue Hens have secured a few important additions to the team through recruitment and the transfer portal.

Last January, guard Jameer Nelson Jr. transferred to Delaware from George Washington. Nelson, whose father is a former NBA player, averaged 10.4 points per game in his freshman year and 8.4 points per game along with two assists per game the following season.

Just one month later, guard Wes Peterson Jr. accepted a scholarship from the university. Out of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia, Peterson averaged 16.1 points per game in his junior year and had no senior season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Then, in May, Providence transfer forward Jyaré Davis took his talents to the Blue Hens and retained his freshman eligibility as he had sat out for the Friars. Davis is a local product who attended Sanford High School in Hockessin, Delaware.

“They’re very coachable, they’re hardworking and pick up on things really quickly,” Ingelsby said of the new additions. “They’re going to give us a great shot in the arm on the court and in the locker room.”

Bringing in Nelson will provide the Blue Hens with an immediate boost at the guard position, especially in depth. Last year, starting guards Kevin Anderson and Ryan Allen dealt with injuries, leaving Delaware’s backcourt shorthanded during certain games.

Proven experience in a conference such as the Atlantic 10 is very valuable, and that is exactly what Nelson has, thanks to his two years with George Washington. Peterson and Davis serve as two young talents to add to Delaware’s roster depth.

Two more key players that will figure into Delaware’s rotations this season are guards Reggie Gardner and Logan Curtis. Both guards are coming off injuries that kept them off the court all of last year.

Gardner, a redshirt senior, sat out the 2019-2020 season after transferring from North Carolina Central, then missed all of 2020-2021 for a shoulder injury. Curtis, a redshirt sophomore, missed last year with a lower leg injury, after transferring from East Carolina.

“[Gardner] is fully cleared to go and he’s been in practice,” coach Ingelsby said earlier this fall. “[Curtis] is progressing, doing skill work and non-contact right now.”

When Delaware’s senior guards, Allen and Anderson, missed time last season, the onus was left on then-sophomores Ebby Asamoah and Johnny McCoy, and then-freshman Gianmarco Arletti, who manned the point guard position.

In last season’s conference opener versus Charleston, Arletti played 31 minutes and scored a career-high 21 points in a starting role. In every game that followed, he played double-digit minutes.

Meanwhile, Asamoah and McCoy played double-digit minutes in every game, averaging 8.8 and 4.9 points per game, respectively. Now juniors, both guards will figure in Delaware’s crowded backcourt rotation.

As a whole, the backcourt features two returning starters (Allen and Anderson), three returnees (Arletti, Asamoah and McCoy), two players coming off of injuries (Gardner and Curtis), a junior transfer (Nelson Jr.) and a new recruit (Peterson) .

“I have 200 minutes to distribute for every game and I’m going to give it to the guys that are consistent and reliable,” Ingelsby said of his team. “When you have talent and depth like that, it’s going to bring the best out of everybody, and the cream will rise to the top.”

While the Delaware backcourt is particularly loaded, its frontcourt also features a number of impact players. Forward Dylan Painter leads the frontcourt, coming off a season where he averaged 13.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and was named to the All-CAA First Team.

Sophomore Andrew Carr received 10 starts last year as a freshman, and managed to put up 8.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Behind Painter and Carr, senior Anthony Ochefu (7.9 minutes per game last year) and junior Aleks Novakovich (16.5 minutes per game last year) are the Blue Hens’ top returning forwards.

The addition of Davis will give Delaware some more depth in the frontcourt, but it certainly lacks depth compared to the backcourt that is full of upperclassmen and proven scorers.

Last year, injuries and coronavirus restrictions rendered the Delaware team very thin in both the backcourt and the frontcourt. In a Jan. 9 loss to William & Mary, the Blue Hens only had seven available scholarship players. The next day, the teams and conference agreed to cancel their second matchup out of an abundance of concern, as Delaware was down to just five healthy scholarship players.

Unlike in years past, Ingelsby’s team is retaining its most important players, particularly the experienced trio of Allen, Anderson and Painter. All three are returning thanks to the NCAA granting an extra year to student-athletes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, Delaware has a full scholarship roster and a bevy of players that participate in practice. This year, roster depth and bench experience look to be strengths of the Blue Hens, instead of their weaknesses.

“We haven’t been a team that has been too deep over the last couple years due to injuries and departures,” Ingelsby said. “We have 17 guys that practice everyday and I am really excited about our depth.”

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