Finally, things are looking up again for the University of Delaware basketball team.
The Blue Hens got an unexpected jolt in March when their best player, Ryan Daly, stunned his coaches and teammates and announced that he was leaving Delaware to transfer to another school, which ended up being St. Joseph’s.
It’s hard to blame Daly for wanting to play for St. Joe’s – his father and grandfather played for the Hawks and the Atlantic 10 Conference is a step up from the Colonial Athletic Association, Delaware’s home conference. Still, it was a big blow to the Delaware program.
Then another player, Chyree Walker, announced that he, too, was leaving Delaware, and even though Walker wasn’t a star like Daly – he played in 30 games last season, starting 14 – it was still a disturbing trend.
Then, more bad news – in October, Ryan Allen, a starting guard who tied the Delaware record for three-pointers last season with 86, broke a bone in his foot and was sidelined until late December.
Well, it appears the clouds have lifted and the sun is shining into the Bob Carpenter Center, despite Wednesday night’s 73-71 upset loss to Delaware State (and there’s a good chance you didn’t know about that, since Delaware’s only state-wide newspaper didn’t have a single word about the matchup between the state’s only two Division I programs).
Allen is back in the lineup, the Blue Hens are 8-5 as they get ready to dive into their CAA schedule, and they received an unexpected gift when former Villanova player Dylan Painter announced that he was leaving the national champions and coming to Newark to finish out his college career.
Painter wasn’t a star for Villanova – if he was a star he never would have transferred – but just having worn the Wildcats uniform gives him a special aura.
Plus, he’s 6-foot-10, and you can never have enough talented big men on your roster. The Hershey, Pa., native played in 23 games as a freshman in 2016-17, then red-shirted last year as the Wildcats rolled to another national championship.
Painter thought he’d play a significant role this season, especially after Donte DiVicenzo and Alonzo Spellman opted for the NBA draft, which wasn’t expected when that championship season ended.
When that didn’t happen, Painter decided it was time to get out of Dodge. And Delaware, which had been burned by transfers before, finally profited from one, even though Painter won’t be eligible until January of 2020.
Delaware will lose its best player after this season, redshirt senior Eric Carter, who is averaging a team-best 19.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. But the other starters are all underclassmen – sophomores Ryan Allen and Kevin Anderson and freshmen Ethiel Horton and Matt Veretto.
But that’s next season.
This season, the Hens are doing pretty well, and they got a big boost this past week when Allen returned to the lineup for a 74-68 loss to Stony Brook. The sharpshooter proved he hasn’t lost his touch, as he sank 5 of 8 three-pointers.
Also, Horton was named the CAA rookie of the week twice in a row, so the Hens have some good, young talent as they get ready to tackle their CAA schedule. Delaware was predicted to finish seventh in the 10-team CAA in the preseason poll of conference coaches, and certainly the loss of Daly figured into that gloomy forecast, as well as the Blue Hens’ inexperience.
But they have a winning record now and some good young talent, with more on the way. So the future appears to be bright for Delaware basketball. Coach Martin Ingelsby and his assistants – Bill Phillips, Corey McCrae and Torrian Jones – have recruited some good players to Newark. And now a guy with a national championship ring has fallen into their laps.