Critical stretch ahead for women’s basketball
Associate Sports Editor
The 2019-2020 season for the Delaware women’s basketball team has had all sorts of highs, lows, ups, downs and everything in between. The Blue Hens started out losing their first four games. After winning their next two, the team went on a swing of wins and losses alternating nightly and saw another three-game skid come about in mid-January.
Over the first week of February the team went on a three-game winning streak, boosting its conference record to 5-6, before losing to Drexel on Sunday. As the Blue Hens come down the home stretch through the rest of February and the beginning of March, consistently winning conference games will give the team a huge boost in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings. This in turn will help once the CAA tournament rolls around.
Currently, Delaware holds the seventh seed in the CAA. If the conference tournament started today, the Blue Hens would have to play on the opening day of the tournament and would have to play three consecutive days to have a shot at getting to the CAA final. For the Blue Hens to avoid playing on day one, they would need to be one of the top six teams in the CAA. The good news for Delaware is that a top six seed is attainable.
The sixth seed in the CAA is currently held by Northeastern, which holds a CAA record of 7-6. This puts the Blue Hens a game and a half behind Northeastern in the standings. Stringing wins together over the last six games would put Delaware in a realistic spot to get into the top six. However, stringing together wins down the stretch will not be easy.
The next four games for the Blue Hens are against the top five teams in the CAA, including William and Mary and James Madison, which hold a combined 19-6 record in CAA play. Delaware holds a 2-2 record against these four teams with wins coming against Towson and Elon. One of those losses were decided by ten points or less. The Blue Hens started this stretch off with a tough loss to Drexel at the Bob Carpenter Center, losing 52-32.
Even with this, the thought of Delaware making a run is not far-fetched, however it will fall on the shoulders of the players to make it happen.
The production of senior forward Nicole Enabosi and sophomore guard Jasmine Dickey will play a huge role in whether or not the Blue Hens can make a late season push. Enabosi leads the team in points-per-game averaging 17.1 with just over seven rebounds per game. Dickey is second on the team in scoring, averaging just over 12 points. Her production on the glass has been huge and is currently leading the team with 9.2 rebounds per game, putting her just under a double-double in points and rebounds per game.
Using Enabosi’s knack to get buckets on the low block and Dickey’s well groomed mid-range game, along with both playing hard on the boards will help Delaware put up points and also keep teams from getting second chance buckets.
The Blue Hens will also need to see more results from pieces around Enabosi and Dickey. Redshirt junior Kayla Shaw, senior forward Samone DeFreese and senior guard Abby Gonzales must play pivotal roles in order for the team to be successful.
Shaw leads the team in three-point percentage, and getting shooting on the outside is something the team has lacked. Gonzales leads the team in assists. DeFreese is one of the more consistent shooters on the team in terms of field goal percentage. Utilizing an offensive strategy that meshes those three skill sets, such as setting picks in the mid-range and at the top of the arch would help free up shots for DeFreese and Shaw. It would also space the floor and allow Enabosi and Dickey to work well underneath the basket.
As days go by, the team is getting closer to the CAA tournament. The women’s basketball team has not won a conference title, nor has it been to the NCAA tournament, since the 2012-2013 season. For the Blue Hens to change this in 2020, it is clear it will take every player and coach on the team to get the job done.
Currently the Blue Hens hold a conference record of 5-7, with an overall record of 9-14. Even after the loss to Drexel, Delaware still sits in seventh place in the CAA. Delaware hosts Elon this Friday, February 21st, at 11 a.m.