Delaware found itself trailing at the half in each of its first four conference games. Operating under trying circumstances wasn’t helping: in two of those games, the Blue Hens knew they’d have to battle back without the services of one of their best players. Carl Baptiste missed all but seven minutes of the James Madison game, and Jarvis Threatt was absent from the Northeastern game because he cancelled his own class the week beforehand.
What happens when Delaware has to compete without its starting point guard Threatt? Devon Saddler dishes out eight dimes, and big man Carl Baptiste doesn’t miss a shot en route to a career-high 19 points. Just as importantly, Baptiste came up with the crucial block that helped Delaware escape Boston with a 74-70 win.
And when the YoUDees are all active and playing rival Drexel? They shoot 56.5% from the field, place five players in double figures, and drop 90 points (1.25 per possession) on the normally solid Drexel defense. In the win, Threatt and Saddler combined or assisted on 32 of Delaware’s 35 field goals.
Saddler, who’s scored at least 22 points in six straight games, also has 15 assists in his past two games. That’s the best two-game assist total of his career, and the eight dimes against Northeastern were his most since January 3rd, 2011.
The senior reflected positively on the first half of the Drexel game:
“We were just on our game tonight. We haven’t played a first half like that all season. It seemed like every shot was going in. I looked up at halftime. We had 48 points. I was just excited. We were sharing the ball. That helped us more in tonight’s game.”
The secret to Delaware’s success is twofold. With the addition of Davon Usher and improvements from Saddler and Kyle Anderson, this is a significantly better jump-shooting bunch than the group we saw last year. Another huge part of their success comes from maximizing opportunities: the Blue Hens sports a 14.7% turnover rate, good for 15th in the country (at 12.8%, Drexel is currently second).
I’ve said this recently, but I think it’s worth repeating: since February 1st 2012, Delaware is 28-7 in league play. Delaware will head into Saturday’s bout with Towson with a 5-0 mark in the conference.
Some late linkage to recap the holiday weekend action:
- Bad news for the rest of the CAA: Jerrelle Benimon has rediscovered his jump shot. He’d only hit two 3-pointers before conference play, but he’s already hit three in three conference games. His long and mid-range game was on display Sunday when he teamed with Mike Burwell (18 points) to take down Charleston.
- William & Mary absolutely hammered James Madison by 22 at Kaplan last Saturday. For JMU, losing this game won’t be as hard as losing Charles Cooke, who will probably be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury.
- Beanpot Hoops is a blog to get familiar with. Here’s some analysis on those Cardiac Canines, and their propensity for tight games.
Northeastern at Towson – 7:00 – Audio/Video
Last season Towson was one of the CAA’s best offensive squads, but left something to be desired on defense. In three conference games this season, have the CAA’s best defensive in terms of points allowed (just 59.3 per contest). Don’t let the threat of a defensive bout scare you away: Benimon versus Eatherton is sure to be a doozy.
Despite the fact that the Huskies have flashed a more balanced offensive attack lately, it’s hard to go against Towson here. The Tigers have won five in a row and 13 consecutive games at home. It seems like Pat Skerry’s squad is starting to put it together.
Tigers 65, Huskies 61
William & Mary at Hofstra – 7:00 – Audio/Video
Hofstra needs consistent offense from someone other than Zeke Upshaw. Dion Nesmith needs to be less gunshy. Jamall Robinson and Chris Jenkins have been solid, but often inconsistent (AKA freshmen) third options in this offense.
We want to see the William & Mary bigs play with physicality. We already saw Hofstra’s frontcourt give Delaware fits. This team can create extra possessions and wear its opponent down, which is scary for a Tribe team that struggles to play 40 minutes of solid basketball.
Hofstra 3-1 in CAA play? I’m feelin’ it.
Pride 67, Tribe 64
UNCW at Charleston – 7:00 – Audio/Video
As King Kresse put it, this is the birth of a Coastal Rivalry. Our southernmost universities will do battle for the first time this season. As encouraged as I was by the backcourt of Craig Ponder and Chris Dixon combining for 29 points last Saturday, I expect Charleston to hold serve here. Adjehi Baru should matchup pretty well with Cedrick Williams down low, and the Cougars have the ultimate x-factor, Willis “The Illest” Hall. Willis gets one of those hustle double-doubles, and one of the guards steps up and hits a few 3-pointers.
Cougars 71, Seahawks 62
As you can see, we picked each of the home teams to win. It’s a bit of a cop out until you realize the road teams have won more than half the games this season. Enjoy those juicy frontcourt matchups.