Delaware Confident Maturity Will Help Them Survive What Will Be a True Road Game on Sunday
By: Matt Janus
Little Rock, AR- Delaware took the floor for the first time at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday, site of the Blue Hens’ NCAA tournament opener on Sunday afternoon. Delaware, which arrived in the Razorback state on Friday morning, practiced later that afternoon at a local high school. Saturday’s 90-minute workout marks the first time Tina Martin’s team has shot in UALR’s beautiful on-campus facility.
Delaware’s opponent in the first round will have to deal with no-such inexperience shooting at those same rims. As a host school, UALR received a home game despite its 14th seed.
The Hens know a road tournament game will not be a simple task, but at the same time they are aware it is something they cannot concern themselves with.
“The fact that this has been three straight years [in the NCAA tournament] and they are on their home court, yes I am very concerned about that, and I think that gives them a little bit of an advantage,” Martin said. “But the bottom line is everybody is playing for the opportunity to advance. You can’t get caught up with that.
“You have to push any doubt that you might have or any fears that you might have aside. We deserve to be here. We’re our conference champions and we are just going to play as hard as we can.”
Delaware senior Jocelyn Bailey thinks her team’s maturity will get them through what is certainly a unique situation.
“It’s a little bit odd,” Bailey said. “But I feel that we are a mature enough team to do what we are supposed to do and not let it bother us. We may not have as many fans there as some of the other games, but I’m pretty sure they will be there with us in spirit and in heart. We are playing for them so I’m confident we will handle it well.”
UALR head coach Joe Foley knows a road game won’t cause Delaware to shrivel up in fear, but he is hopeful it gives his underdog Trojans an advantage.
“I think it’ll be huge,” Foley said. “I think anytime you’re playing in the NCAA tournament, the runs are what help you. Everybody is capable of making runs when you get to this stage. Everyone’s a good ball team. So the crowd can kind of pick you up and get you going. Sometimes they might help stop a run if you make a good defensive play and get your kids pumped up. So I think crowds are very important.
“In the men’s game you’re watching Duke and all those teams and there’s not much of a crowd because they’re playing on different courts. But when you get to play on your home floor, and a lot of them are your home crowd, I think that’s a big factor.”
The Trojans were a good team at home, winning 11 of 16 games at the Jack Stephens Center, but Delaware was even better on the road. The Hens went 18-1 away from the Carpenter Center and won 14 out of 15 true road games on the season. The only loss came at top-five ranked Maryland, and Delaware is undefeated on the road during the 2012 calendar year.
Still, Little Rock will show Delaware plenty of hostility on Sunday. How the Hens deal with it will determine how long their stay in Arkansas’ capital will last.