Dissecting Men’s Basketball’s season so far
Managing Sports Editor
If you haven’t heard by now, Delaware’s Men’s Basketball team is on fire.
The team won seven straight conference games, the longest conference winning streak in Head Coach Martin Ingelsby’s tenure, before losing to William and Mary on Saturday. This streak catapulted Delaware into third place in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and sit just two games behind first place Hofstra. Hofstra just edges out the Blue Hens with a 11-3 conference record compared to Delaware’s 9-5 slate. Delaware beat Hofstra on its home floor a few weeks ago with Kevin Anderson’s game-winning layup. Let’s break down what Delaware did during the win streak and during the season overall.
They have been winning close games.
It’s always nice to win close games and it really shows the resilience of a team. Delaware has won its fair share of close games, especially during the seven-game winning streak. During the streak, they have won all seven games by a total of 27 points. That is an average win margin of 3.86 points. Looking at the whole season so far, Delaware is 6-0 in games decided by three points or less. If you stretch it out to games decided by eight points or less, the Blue Hens are 13-4. Winning close games is a testament to being able to close out games and Delaware has shown that kind of fortitude this season. During the seven game winning streak alone, the Blue Hens have hit three game winning shots, Jacob Cushing’s late three-pointer at home against Elon, Kevin Anderson’s layup at the final buzzer at Hofstra, and Nate Darling’s bank shot from the free throw line against James Madison in front of a loud Bob Carpenter Center. Anderson’s layup also appeared on SportsCenter as the number one play of the night. And if you add in Nate Darling’s late, go-ahead three-pointer against Elon, then it makes four game winners.
Nate Darling has been on a scoring tear.
Junior guard Nate Darling, known as the “Halifax Hen” has been lighting up the scoreboard the past six games. In that stretch, he has sandwiched 34 and 27 point games, scored 24 against Elon and torched William and Mary for 36 points in a close loss, for an average of 30.33 points per game over that span. He brought his season average up to 21.6 points per game, tied for 2nd in the CAA with Charleston’s Grant Riller and is tied for 11th nationally. Darling is one of eight players to have three games of scoring at least 34 points. The performance during the week earned him his third CAA Player of the Week Award. This was the second time he earned the honor in the last three weeks. Darling has been instrumental to this team’s success. When he scores 20 points or more, Delaware is 12-3 as opposed to 6-5 when he scores less (Darling did not play in the season opener). Darling set the UD single season record with 89 three-pointers, which rank first in the conference and sixth in the country.
Darling has some help.
It hasn’t just been Nate Darling putting in the work. He has gotten help from the rest of the talented crew. The entire starting lineup is averaging double-digit points. Each of the starters has been the leading scorer in at least one game this season. The team has some dangerous offensive weapons capable of catching fire any night. Dylan Painter fought his way inside for a career high 23 points and added 10 rebounds at JMU. He has been a huge addition for Delaware ever since he became eligible after the first semester. Kevin Anderson scored 25 points in a loss against William and Mary, but he was also crucial in other games. He hit a game tying three-pointer against Elon, two big free throws at home against James Madison, a three-pointer that put Delaware up for good on the road with 38 seconds left against James Madison and of course, the game-winning layup at Hofstra. Justyn Mutts scored a career-high 30 points in that game. He is also fifth in the league with 8.3 rebounds per game.
There is a lot to be excited for for the remainder of the Men’s season. This is the most talented Delaware team in a long time, and certainly the best in Ingelsby’s tenure. They have a legitimate chance to win the CAA Tournament and make an appearance in the coveted NCAA Tournament or as most people like to call it; March Madness.
Blue Hen fans should get ready for March, because Delaware can make some noise in the CAA and maybe even beyond.