At first glance, it looks like a typical season for the University of Delaware basketball team – a losing record, overall and in the conference, and a quick exit from the conference tournament. In other words, just another year of bad basketball in Newark.
And adding insult to that losing record is the ignominy of being the team that set an NCAA record for blowing the biggest lead in NCAA history during an 85-83 loss to Drexel less than two weeks ago.
By almost any definition, Martin Ingelsby didn’t have a good year in his second season as the Blue Hens coach – any definition, that is, except the one that means the most in this case. Despite the losses – even the embarrassing one against Drexel – the Delaware program is on the rise.
That’s because Ingelsby has already proven he can handle the most important part of his job – recruiting. In two years he’s put together a good, young core, and that ability to lure those kinds of players to Newark is why Ingelsby will succeed — it doesn’t matter if the coach is a master of the Xs and Os if he can’t get the talent to execute them.
Well, the Blue Hens had the last two rookies of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association – Ryan Daly last season and Ryan Allen this season. Those are two cornerstones, especially Daly, who is the go-to guy every team needs and Delaware has rarely had. Daly’s value to his team was evident when his missed five games toward the end of the season with an ankle injury and Delaware lost all five.
Allen, a 6-2 guard, was selected as the CAA rookie of the week four times this season and there are more good, young players on this roster. Delaware only loses two seniors and just one of them, Anthony Mosely, saw significant playing time. The Hens also have two juniors, two red-shirt juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. One of those freshman, Kevin Anderson, averaged 13.7 points per game and was voted CAA rookie of the week twice before his season was ended in January because of a knee injury.
So, all things considered, Ingelsby and his staff – assistants Bill Phillips, Corey McCrae and Torrian Jones – did a good job this year in an impossible situation. They played young players and paid the price for that, but those young players will get older and better and they’ll be the nucleus of a pretty good team.