Considering the recent history of the University of Delaware men's basketball program, people see the team’s 2-5 record and think, ‘same-old Hens.’ When you add to the sub-par mark the fact that Monte Ross's team just lost to a 2-6 Lafayette squad, you can understand why people would feel that way. But in fairness to the Hens, Wednesday really was an aberration.
Delaware was playing without two of its top five players due to injuries suffered by Jarvis Threatt and Josh Brinkley. The Hens do not yet have the depth to be able to sustain those kinds of losses and still find success.
Honestly, it still should not have cost them the Lafayette contest, but it was a big factor in the loss. Another was the schedule surrounding Wednesday.
The Hens had just gone through a stretch that featured contests at Virginia, against Kansas State and Pitt at Madison Square Garden and at Temple. Then, after the Lafayette game they have a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium and a date with fourth-ranked Duke looming.
Wednesday was a new experience for Ross and his team; A trap game.
For so long Delaware was not blessed with the talent to assume anything. For the first time in what seems forever, the Hens have high expectations. People, themselves included, feel like there is no way UD should lose a game to a team like Lafayette.
When you experience that for the first time, and particularly when the game you are suppose to win pops up in the middle of a grueling stretch on your schedule, it can be difficult to handle. The Hens learned that is an understatement during the first half on Wednesday.
Delaware spotted the Leopards a 20-point lead, and went to intermission still trailing by 16. Despite warning his team coming into the game that Lafayette would likely zone his offense, Ross’s troops looked as though they had never worked on their zone-sets before. The result was plenty of bad shots and turnovers.
And let’s be honest, when you see those two things in a stat sheet it means one of two things; Either the team was athletically inferior (which was certainly not the case considering UD out-rebounded Lafayette, 41-26 and had far-and-away the two most talented players on the floor) or the team took a win for granted.
Delaware looked past Lafayette and paid for it. I’ll give them a free pass for it, because it is the first time they have really been in that situation before, but Ross and his staff need to make sure this team learns the proper lesson from it and prevents it from happening again.
Now comes another likely loss to Duke and a disappointing 2-6 mark, but after that there are some likely wins on Delaware’s schedule. Delaware should be able to topple Radford, Delaware State, a down Villanova team, Penn and Rider to take an above-500 record and more importantly momentum into CAA action. This will happen only if they don’t take anything for granted though.
The Hens are vastly improved, they just have nothing to show for it right now in the win-loss column. But trust me, they will soon.