After beating James Madison 61-60 on Jan. 13, things looked promising for the Blue Hens under second-year head coach Martin Ingelsby. His team sat at 11-8 overall, and were in a three-way tie for second place in the CAA with a 4-2 conference record.
Oh, how things have changed.
After that game, the Blue Hens plunged into a nine-game losing streak that stretched from Jan. 18 to Feb. 15. The streak was snapped on Saturday when they defeated Elon, 72-57, at home after a strong defensive effort that we have not seen from the Hens in quite some time. They had been giving up 75.1 points per game during the skid, which began soon after freshman guard Kevin Anderson went down with a knee injury for the season during a December practice. He was the second leading scorer on the team at the time with an average of 13.7 points per game (PPG). That loss was huge for the Hens, but not in vain, as they managed to win five of their next seven games.
If losing Anderson wasn’t enough to vault the Hens out of CAA contention, then the loss of Ryan Daly for three weeks may have shut the door on their season. Daly sprained his ankle four games into the losing streak. Delaware lost the next four without him, and lost a heartbreaker to Towson in his first game back where the refs missed a call at the end that should have sent the Hens to the free throw line to have a chance to win the game.
Guiding the Hens through this tough season is Head Coach Martin Ingelsby’s penchant for recruiting top talent; Daly was the CAA Rookie of the Year last year, Anderson was on track to win it until he went down and now freshman Ryan Allen has stepped up and looks like a lock for the award. The freshman is averaging 15.7 PPG and leads the team with a 39 percent mark from deep. He has made 75 three pointers this season and provides the team with a much-needed offensive spark.
Ingelsby is only in his second year so there is no reason to panic. They may be close to yet another 20-loss season, after having three straight, but the program is trending upward with the talent that Martin Ingelsby is bringing in. Delaware does not have a big basketball history, or following, and there is no reason to believe that this will change, but within a few years this core group of players can turn from Rookies of the Year, to Player of the Year candidates in the CAA.
The Blue Hens record over the past two seasons may look good on the stat sheet, but there certainly is hope for the future. The core of Anderson, Allen and Daly should remain intact for the next few years; once they become juniors and seniors, a CAA championship may not be out of the question. Soon we can swim to the top of the CAA, but for right now, the Hens are just staying afloat.