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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Fabulous Freshman Ryan Daly – Cornerstone for Rebuilding Blue Hens

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Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan
Kevin Noonan has covered and commented on the Delaware sports scene for more than 30 years, everything from amateur recreation leagues and high schools to local colleges and the Philadelphia professional teams. He’s been voted Delaware Sportswriter of the Year multiple times and currently covers the Philadelphia Eagles for CBSSports.com and teaches creative writing courses at Wilmington University.

The University of Delaware men’s basketball team will need time to turn around its fortunes and it will also need luck. And the Blue Hens got a big chunk of luck right off the bat when Ryan Daly decided to come to Newark.

Daly is the Hens’ fabulous freshman who leads his team in scoring, rebounding and potential. He’s a shoo-in for rookie of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association – Daly has been named CAA rookie of the week six times already – and he set the Delaware freshman record for points in a season (412), with two games left to play.

More from the Daly stat sheet: He’s scored 20 or more points eight times, with a career high of 28 points against North Carolina-Wilmington, the top team in the CAA, and he’s scored in double figures in 22 of 28 games. He’s averaging 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and he’s on the floor for an average of almost 33 minutes of a possible 40.

A lot of freshmen have good games, but few show the consistency that Daly has this season.

Freshman Ryan Daly has earned the CAA Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Week Honor more than once this season.

Still, those are just numbers, albeit very good ones. What says even more about Daly is the way the Hens rely on the freshman in the clutch. He’s already won two games with last-second shots and, just as importantly, he missed a potential game-winner in another game. That’s significant, because nobody makes that shot all the time, not even Michael Jordan. The important thing is that Daly was willing, even eager, to take that last shot. That’s something you can’t coach and, of course, it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.

That’s why, of all the nice things Ingelsby has had to say about his freshman ace, this is perhaps the most telling: “He’s a gamer.”

And it’s just a fact that the rebuilding Blue Hens were lucky to land that gamer. After a terrific high school career, Daly initially committed to Hartford, but he became unhappy there, even though he says he got along with the coaches.

Anyhow, Daly became a free agent at about the same time Delaware hired Ingelsby after a long and sometimes painful search for a replacement for the fired Monte Ross. Ingelsby wasn’t hired until May 25, long after most of the good prospects had signed with other schools. But Ingelsby – who, like Daly, was a star guard at Archbishop Carroll High in Philadelphia – had the inside track on Daly, who was also recruited by American, Canisius, Holy Cross, Brown and Tulane.

Daly was the player of the year in the Philadelphia Catholic League, and even though he has good size for a shooting guard – he’s listed at 6-foot-4 – he wasn’t recruited by big-time schools. And that was a big-time mistake, because it’s already clear that Daly has the total game to play at a higher level. He might not be a star at, say, Villanova or Duke, but he could play at those kinds of schools.

That’s another reason the Blue Hens were lucky to sign him. And that’s the kind of luck you need to turn a program around, especially when you get a late start like Ingelsby did. No matter what happens now, the new coach has a cornerstone for his program and that will help attract other good players. That’s how you build a team, and even though Martin Ingelsby doesn’t coach at Notre Dame any more, it looks like he still has the luck of the Irish.

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