Yesterday afternoon, UNCW introduced Kevin Keatts as its new head coach, the 10th in program history. The 41-year-old Keatts coached the last three seasons alongside Rick Pitino while serving as Louisville’s associate head coach. UNCW appears to have obtained the services of a much sought-after man, and it didn’t take nearly as long as the coaching search back in 2010, which lasted 79 days.

Before his stint in Kentucky, Keatts spent a total of 10 years at Hargrave Military Academy (VA) (with a brief stop at Marshall mixed in there) where he won a pair of prep school national championships.

During Keatts’ three years at Louisville, the Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA Tournament Championship, participated in the Final Four in 2012, and made a run to the Sweet 16 this season.

With Louisville’s season ending last Friday night, Keatts is officially focused on restoring success to a once-proud UNCW program. He said as much Wednesday afternoon, frequently referencing 2006 (when UNCW last made the Big Dance) and the glory days of Jerry Wainwright and Brad Brownell:

“I am a winner. I will work as hard as I can to get this program back to where it’s supposed to be.”

His experience coaching at the graduate level could prove valuable in formulating a pipeline with post grad programs. One of the big reasons Luke Hancock transferred to Lousville was to join Keatts, his former prep coach. Hancock was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 2013.

We witnessed the success Blaine Taylor created with redshirt seniors, and guys who go the prep school route aren’t much different. Virginia’s got a unique recruiting landscape, as most of the high D-I prospects leave the state for the perceived greener pastures.

Many talented players that have been passed over by bigger programs are then cherry-picked by out-of-state programs. Look no further that Monte Ross snagging Hagins, Brinkley, Threatt, King-Davis, or incoming recruit Skye Johnson from Virginia.

If Keatts knows the Shenandoah Valley prep landscape well enough to snag a few hidden gems, it could go a long way towards getting a leg up on his CAA comrades.

Regarding style of play, Keatts said the Seahawks will play fast, and will be “the best-conditioned team in the country.” Let’s take a look at the holdovers from the Buzz Peterson era:

F Cedrick Williams (Senior)
G Addison Spruill (Senior)
G Freddie Jackson (Senior)
F Nate Anderson (Senior)
F Yemi Makanjuola (Junior)
F Dylan Sherwood (Junior)
G Craig Ponder (Junior)
F Luke Hager (Junior)
C C.J. Gettys (Sophomore)
F Chuck Ogbodo (Sophomore)

G Nik Brown (Sophomore) – Leaving?
G Malik Pugh (Freshman) – Still Committed?

Coaching changes are generally followed by attrition, so we’ll see how this situation shakes out. There are 10 players remaining from last season and the two pledges (Brown and Pugh) reopened their recruitments towards the end of the coaching search.

From what I’ve read, Pugh fits the mold of the quick, active guards Keatts coached at Louisville. Keatts is looking to get Pugh back in the fold, and should look for an older transfer at point guard. That’s the most gaping hole on the roster.

It’s hard to know what one could expect from Brown, a guy who’s been injury-plagued throughout the entirety of his collegiate career. His freshman year stat line screams volume scorer, but UNCW needs buckets anyway it can get them. Keatts’ system allows for plenty of offensive freedom, which should be intriguing to Brown. Brown did average 3.6 assists per game at Longwood (’12-’13), but also committed 3.9 turnovers per outing.

At guard, rising redshirt junior Craig Ponder looks to be the biggest benefactor of Keatts’ arrival. Ponder suited up for Keatts at Hargrave, and has shown potential in his three seasons at Wilmington. Last season was disappointing, but Ponder finished it on a personal high note when he dropped a season-high 24 points in the CAA Tournament play-in game versus Hofstra. If he isn’t forced to be the floor general, he could easily be the Seahawks’ highest scoring guard next season.

The returning crop of forwards is sneaky. Aside from Northeastern, does anyone in the conference have a better frontcourt? Charleston has Baru, and there are talented young forwards in Philly, Baltimore, and Newark, but I like what returns in Wilmington.

That Cedrick Williams-Yemi Makanjuola duo will be nice, and late-season breakout Dylan Sherwood brings size and shooting. Luke Hager had some productive outings. Chuck Ogbodo is still an unknown commodity, but flashed budding skills in a limited role.

I think we’ll see that with a more defined rotation, UNCW can be solid. If a guy like Ponder knows he’ll get 28 minutes a night, his production shouldn’t be as up and down.

All things considered, this looks like a great hire. It’s hard to make predictions when we don’t know exactly how Keatts will fill those three open scholarships, but I think it’s a conservative estimate to say that the Seahawks could double their conference win total (3-13 in 2014) next season.

For details on Keatts’ incentive-laden contract with a base salary of $300K, look here.

***

Towson‘s historically successful season officially ended last Thursday with a CIT loss at Murray State. Sometimes, a player’s biggest struggle is for our memories, and I don’t think any CAA fans will soon forget what Jerrelle Benimon, Mike Burwell, Rafriel Guthrie, and Marcus Damas did to help Pat Skerry turn around the Towson program.

Underclassmen Four McGlynn, Timajh Parker-Rivera, Walter Foster, and John Davis got some valuable postseason run, and represent Towson’s bright future going forward. Expect Towson to take a step back before rising to contention again in 2016.

***

The end of the first quarter of year marks the beginning of a very tumultuous time for college basketball programs. Transfers run rampant, and it’s already hit close to home.

Hofstra’s Jordan Allen will graduate in May, and plans to pursue graduate/basketball opportunities at another university. His ability to man four spots on the floor would allow him to play at plenty of D-I schools, and we’ll miss watching him compete. Congratulations to Allen for getting that degree in three years, and honoring student athletes everywhere.

6’9” sophomore forward Taylor Bessick will transfer from James Madison, as he looks for more touches elsewhere. Bessick flashed potential in his two seasons in Harrisonburg, but struggled to put it together consistently (early fouls/fouls in rapid succession were common issues). A season in the weight room could do wonders for a guy who hasn’t played basketball for very long.

It was also announced that 6’7” freshman Tom Rivard will transfer away from JMU. At the moment, JMU has nine players currently on scholarship, with high school seniors Hari Hall and Dante Sterling set to join the Dukes. That leaves Matt Brady with two scholarships to fill before next season. Brady could try to add onto the incoming freshman class, but it might be more likely that he’ll try to snag an experienced guard in the Humpty Hitchens mold. Bessick’s departure leaves a void in the post as well, so we’ll see how that all pans out.

It’s transfer season. Stay tuned.

There’s no need to dive into the box score from Delaware’s NCAA Tournament game. 41, the number of points Michigan State forward Adreian Payne tallied, represents the only crucial figure (I’ll provide more) worth knowing. Whether he was striking from three, free (Tournament record 17-of-17 from foul line), or inside the key, Payne was unstoppable on the court.

Delaware’s three-headed monster of Saddler, Threatt, and Usher showed well, but Michigan State’s forwards absolutely domineered the paint (to the tune of a 42-24 rebound advantage). Delaware’s Carl Baptiste could only muster 24 minutes before fouling out of the contest. Payne got State the lead, and sixth man Travis Trice helped to maintain it with 13 points after halftime.

Delaware scored 1.07 points per possession, which led to Michigan State’s fifth-worst defensive performance in a win. That may not sound impressive, but the Hens did that against a now-healthy Spartan group that played much of the conference schedule at about 70%.

Unfortunately, Delaware’s second-worst (1.27 points per possession allowed) defensive effort of the year came on the biggest stage. We knew this team was going to score in bunches, and that defense would ultimately be its downfall.

As Kevin Tresolini wrote, it’s unfortunate that the Hens got matched up with one of the best teams in the entire country, as a 13 seed.

68 teams were alive last Tuesday morning, and only 16 remain today. The entire quartet of four seeds survived, with their total exceeding the summative of remaining two and three seeds (three).

Michigan State and Louisville entered the Tournament as wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we just wish the selection committee didn’t care so much for TV ratings, i.e., putting the nation’s only undefeated (non-BCS) team in position to play college hoops’ blue bloods Kentucky and Louisville (AKA setting up Kentucky-Louisville in the Sweet 16), at the forefront of its collective mind.

To summarize that mini-rant, Michigan State is a phenomenal program with a significant history of postseason success, and the council wants the Spartans playing in April. Putting Michigan State in position for a Sweet 16 matchup with the “weakest” number one seed is a partial attempt to ensure that.

Hindsight’s 20-20, but we knew going into the game that Michigan State was the worst logically possible draw for Delaware. If the Fightins’ avoid the plethora of suspensions, there’s a chance they climb as high as a 12 seed, and we aren’t even having this conversation. But if the committee had chosen to give the YouDees a chance at a shorter squad like Duke, a streaky one like Creighton, or a slumping bunch like Boeheim’s, things could have ended differently.

Saddler, Usher, and Baptiste took the Hens to their first tournament this century, and hopefully showed recruits how fun Monte Ross’ scheme can be. Those guys are legends, and will be missed. But considering how well Ross recruits, and that Threatt and Anderson will be back, the Hens won’t just fade into the night.

***

UNCW’s coaching search continues, and became even more intriguing when a different Buzz (Williams) took a new job at Virginia Tech. In case you’re unaware, the man responsible for the Seahawks’ rise to prominence is on staff at Marquette. Jerry Wainwright hasn’t been contacted by UNCW’s Athletic Department, but Jimmy Bass has to at least give the man a call…right?

Regardless of the administration’s choice, Longwood transfer Nik Brown won’t be around for the transition.

***

Towson is still playing. It’s a nice reward for those seniors, and a great experience for those underclassmen. Four McGlynn continues to drain 3-pointers (of the 50-foot game-winning buzzer-beating variety). Timajh Parker-Rivera had seven points, nine boards, and five blocks in the most recent game versus East Tennessee State University. Freshmen John Davis and Walter Foster are doing some things. The Tigers will be young but exciting next season.

(13) Delaware (25-9) vs. (4) Michigan State (26-8) – Spokane, WA – 4:40 – TNT

One of the nation’s fastest teams, Delaware, will take on a Michigan State team that played all sorts of speeds in the regular season. The Blue Hens’ least efficient offensive game (91.9 points per 100 possessions) came against a “B1G” defense (Ohio State), but you can’t worry about that here.

That was only Saddler’s second game back in the lineup following his suspension. Delaware can make things happen when pushing the tempo, but the stats indicate that Michigan State isn’t exactly turnover-prone and that Delaware doesn’t excel at creating its own turnovers.

Michigan State will force Delaware to work for every shot, but the YoUDees will find a way to get their points – they scored at least 70 points in 27 of 34 games this season, and were 2-5 in those other seven games. If they can’t hit that mark again, they won’t stand a chance here.

Delaware’s primary challenge, as we’ve acknowledged all season, will come on the defensive end. The Spartans have four players averaging in double-figure scoring. Sophomore Gary Harris is the leading scorer (17.1 points) and MSU’s top NBA Prospect, and Keith Appling is the fourth-year stalwart floor general. The backcourt is nice, but it doesn’t end there.

The Spartans have the pundits hollerin’ because the team has so many unique talents. Appling and Harris are stud guards, but the guys Delaware really has to worry about are the forwards. Branden  Dawson is a max-effort undersized four, and Denzel Valentine is the jack-of-all-trades playmaker, Sparty’s new Draymond Green.

If those guys play like they should, they can turn Delaware into the Black and Blue Hens pretty quickly. The YoUDees will have a tough time keeping pace on the glass.

The Spartans’ biggest mismatch will be Adreian Payne. The 6’10” forward is the team’s second-leading scorer (15.8 points per). He’s just a different kind of big than paint-banger Carl Baptiste. Payne loves to step out to the perimeter (42% from three), and if Baptiste trails him out there, it’ll really open up the entire Spartan offense. Izzo’s team will take full advantage of backdoor cuts.

But those guys won’t have an easy time guarding Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt, and Davon Usher, especially not all at once. It’ll be interesting to see how these teams matchup. Appling on Threatt and Harris on Saddler make sense, and renowned defender Dawson should guard Usher.  Kyle Anderson would give up 25 pounds to Valentine, so Marvin King-Davis might see time on Payne, Dawson and Valentine.

Delaware’s explosive backcourt can keep the Hens in any game, but this is where our concern (depth, specifically in the frontcourt) becomes a problem. Just like Delaware benefitted from suspensions by getting younger guys on the court, Michigan State benefitted from injuries by getting Travis Trice, Matt Costello, and Kenny Kaminski involved.

If Baptiste gets in foul trouble, it’ll be a long day for the underclassmen (MKD, Harris, Jeffers) tasked with slowing down Payne.  I remember watching Michigan State beat Indiana without Payne, and thinking “that’s a team I’ll have in my Final Four”. If Delaware protects the ball and gets some fast-break buckets, the Hens will have a chance.

The head: Michigan State 78, Delaware 68
The heart: Delaware 75, Michigan State 73

18
Mar

When the NCAA Tournament bracket was announced, the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens celebrated loudly and proudly like the champions they are. Given the pairing they received, the uproar could’ve easily been mistaken for the pounding of a judge’s gavel.

Our conference champion Delaware drew the 13 seed that many prognosticators predicted. On the opposite side of the matchup is everything you don’t want to see: a Hall of Fame coach and an underseeded squad fresh off a conference tournament championship.

As a four seed, Michigan State is a ridiculously tough draw. After the brackets were announced, State seemingly became America’s darling overnight. I’m guessing that has plenty to do with people’s opinions of Virginia and Villanova, but also with the recognition that Michigan State is finally healthy. I agree with those who think the Spartans are tougher than all of the three seeds.

The four seed may seem like a good fit for a team that finished 26-8, until you realize that just two Spartans played in all 34 of the team’s games. Starters Gary Harris, Adreian Payne, Branden Dawson, and Keith Appling all missed time while nursing various injuries. Finally healthy, the Spartans look like they could be ready to make some noise.

Michigan State started 7-0 (with Payne missing five of those games) in the Big Ten and 18-1 on the season. Then Dawson missed a month and Appling missed a handful of games. With Payne still hampered, that gaudy record quickly dissipated into a 5-6 record during the final 11 games of conference play.

With Harris, Payne, Appling, and Dawson back in the starting lineup, the Spartans recovered to win three in a row against Northwestern, Wisconsin, and Michigan in Indianapolis to take home the Big Ten Tournament Trophy. Tom Izzo always seems to have his guys playing their best ball in mid-March.

Those people propping Sparty up probably don’t know what the YoUDees have gone through this season. The injuries haven’t been severe, but suspensions forced Jarvis Threatt, Devon Saddler, and Marvin King-Davis to miss large chunks of the season. The Hens pushed their region’s two seed (Villanova) to the brink on the road without Saddler. This is the spot where Monte Ross’ willingness to play a tough nonconference schedule becomes a huge coup.

The Hens have to travel across the country with the right mindset, and judging by Threatt’s comments, it appears they have that:

“It’s about who can be better that night,” junior guard Jarvis Threatt said. “You don’t have to be the better team to beat a team for one night…We’re not backing down from them.”

We’ll touch on this matchup in another post.

***

Other noteworthy news from around the league: Towson is playing in the CIT against USC Upstate on Wednesday, and UNCW fired Buzz Peterson. Eric Detweiler rattled off some potential candidates. We’ll update on all of these situations ASAP.

15
Mar

You already know about that game from Monday Night, the 75-74 Delaware win that allowed Monté Ross’ Hens to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years. It was the most entertaining CAA Championship in recent memory, a back-and-forth offensive showdown contrasting the rock fights we’ve come to know.

It was an emotionally enthralling tearjerker, a game so thought-provoking, you had to throw it in the mental crockpot and let it slow cook before trying to serve it to your friends.

Ultimately, prose doesn’t do a game like that justice – you had to watch it to understand.

Since the calendar switched to 2014, the abundantly talented YoUDees have been the CAA’s best team. I truly believe that, if Delaware plays the season with an entire team in sync, there’s a real chance the Blue Hens pick up a marquee win and sneak into the conversation for an at-large bid. Not to ignore some bad losses, but this team hung with Villanova and Jerian Grant-led Notre Dame without the services of an All-CAA First Team selection (Saddler).

The Hens came into this one on a high note, having streamrolled Northeastern in the CAA semifinals.

And right out of halftime, the YoUDees initiated a pivotal run that resembled the one it made Sunday against Northeastern, the type of run we’ve seen them make throughout conference games all season.

Down a dozen before the first media timeout, the William & Mary Tribe fought back.

It started with Omar Prewitt driving the lane with a purpose, and throwing down a vicious dunk. It was Beasthoven and Kyle Gaillard rising up for timely blocks, and the Tribe tying a season-high with seven swats. It was Daniel Dixon providing hope that he can be the Tribe’s third scorer next season.

It was Marcus Thornton playing like the best player in the conference, and D-I hoops’ best kept secret.

But as good as Thornton was, Delaware had the most dominant player on the court. Carl Baptiste has a penchant for stepping up in big games, and that continued on Monday. Baptiste scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Delaware’s first CAA Championship was Baptiste continuing his stellar play from Sunday, and really the entire season. It was Jarvis Threatt and Devon Saddler attacking the hoop and getting to the line, as they’ve done for the past three seasons. It was Davon Usher recovering from a horrendous start to keep the Fightins’ afloat with two late 3-pointers.

It was resilience, fun, and a 7-0 run.

At the end of the night, it was Ross and Co. hoisting the prize and celebrating their accomplishments. Realistically, the Blue Hens probably stood the best chance of any CAA team to spring an upset in the NCAAT. They’ll be dangerous if they can impose their tempo on a turnover-prone team.

But on Monday Night, for 39 minutes and change, William & Mary outplayed Delaware. The Tribe outworked its counterpart, and seemingly made all of the necessary plays (except for those at the free-throw line).

This was the second season in a row where a last-minute Thornton three-point attempt was the deciding factor. They say the third time’s the charm, and you want Thornton taking that shot every time. Thornton will team with Prewitt to form a lethal 1-2 punch next season. William & Mary loses a lot, but so does Delaware, Towson, Drexel, and Charleston.

Monday Night was a reminder of Tony Shaver’s team’s effort, and Monte Ross’ team’s talent. It was a reminder of why we love March. It was a reminder that almost everyone, be it Elegar, Stokes, Hagins or Britt, ends March with a broken heart. It was the passionate basketball that you don’t always see from the top teams in the “Power Six” conferences.

Monday Night was a reminder that in many ways, we still have it better.

The Battle for an automatic bid comes down to a team that’s never competed in a CAA Championship, and one that’s spent its lifetime as a bridesmaid. Tonight, one of those things will change: either the Delaware Blue Hens will be going to their first NCAA Tournament in 15 years, or the William & Mary Tribe will forever leave the ‘NCAA Forgotten Five’ behind.

There’s a distinct possibility that the winning team will be the first since 1995 to break the 80-point barrier in a CAA Final, a game that will be the antithesis of the 2001 final in which the winning team racked up 35 points. William & Mary is 39th in D-I in adjusted offensive efficiency (112.3 points per 100 possessions), with Delaware checking in at 55th by that same metric (111.4 per 100).

Yes, William & Mary can score, but the Tribe should be hoping to play this game in the 60s. When Monté Ross has every YoUDee  at his disposal, no team in the conference has proven that it can get up and down the court and score with the Blue Hens (averaging 72.4 possessions per game, eighth in D-I adjusted tempo).

Both teams coughed up 11 turnovers in their semifinal games. Against a team with a lightning-quick transition offense, William & Mary absolutely has to keep the turnovers to a minimum. Delaware can cram a fast-break dunk down your throat before you even have a chance to turn around.

The Tribe’s Marcus Thornton may be the best player on the court, and Shaver’s seniors have played with ardent determination this weekend in Baltimore. It’s been Kyle Gaillard slashing side-to-side for layups and stepping out for 3-pointers, Brandon Britt getting to the rack and burying treys, and Tim Rusthoven scrapping down low and rolling his way to the basket. The Pugs’ fifth starter Terry Tarpey has done anything and everything in between.

Unfortunately for the Tribe, Delaware might have the other four best players on the floor. You know Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt and Davon Usher can drop 30-plus in the blink of an eye, but if I’m Shaver, I’m also very concerned about Carl Baptiste. William & Mary did a good job of rotating wing players onto Benimon, but you won’t find Baptiste operating on the perimeter as a point forward like Towson’s stud.

Shaver harped on the importance of not letting Towson’s secondary players beat the Tribe, but Baptiste is much more than that. The only thing that stopped him Sunday were his own fouls, as was getting the better of CAA Defensive Player of the Year Scott Eatherton (14 points in 16 minutes). Baptiste wants to bang in the lane, and Rusthoven, Gaillard, and Sean Sheldon will be working on him exclusively.

Thus, the Tribe will need to forget the one-on-one matchups, and do as it did on Sunday: play together and be the better team. Shaver has better options off the bench: Omar Prewitt was the CAA Freshman of the Year, Julian Boatner is an intuitive and dangerous spot-up shooter, and Sheldon is a serviceable option in the frontcourt.

I think Monté Ross’ team just has too much firepower here. If  this group had played the entire season with its full lineup, there’s a decent chance it would be in the discussion for an at-large bid. The heart says William & Mary’s moxie prevails in another close victory, but the head knows that Delaware’s been the best team all season long.

Delaware 80, William & Mary 77

10
Mar

Usually if a team emerges from a halftime stalemate to shoot 65% in the second half, it’s generally going to be enough to snare a victory. Towson did just that on Sunday, yet still walked away from 1st Mariner Arena wishing it could have connected on just a few more.

On Sunday afternoon, William & Mary gave an effort that wasn’t perfect, but was largely phenomenal. The Tribe’s five starters shot 25-of-39 (64.1%) on the game. The senior trio of Brandon Britt, Kyle Gaillard and Tim Rusthoven did its part in aiding star Marcus Thornton, who scored a game-high 21 points and forced a key turnover that allowed the Tribe to secure the 75-71 victory.

The fifth starter, Terry Tarpey, has been Tony Shaver’s unsung hero all season long. The 6’5″ sophomore was one of the players rotating in on Jerrelle Benimon. On Towson’s penultimate possession, Tarpey was guarding Benimon one-on-one. Benimon charged at Tarpey, who impeded the CAA Player of the Year’s path to the hoop just long enough for Thornton to step in and strip Benimon of the ball. Officials declared that the ball went off Towson, a ruling that was confirmed after a video replay.

Benimon finished with 18 points, but committed six turnovers, including four in the second half. After attemping 21 free throws Saturday against James Madison, Benimon got to the line just twice against the Tribe. Guard Mike Burwell finished with 17 points, but was whistled for an offensive foul (his fourth) with about nine minutes to play. There’s no doubt that his foul troubles limited his aggressiveness in the second half. Before halftime, Towson’s de facto point guard got to the rim with ease, but he attempted just four shots in the second half.

Thornton’s backcourt mate Britt tallied 16 points, including a 4-of-6 mark from three-point land. Win or lose tonight, voters will have a tough time excluding him from the All-Tournament team. Gaillard and Rusthoven combined to score 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, and have to be credited with playing terrific defense on Benimon.

The game was intense throughout; even nonpartisan viewers had that top-of-the-rollercoaster feeling. Towson starts four seniors, and so there was a ton of emotion in the press room after the game. When a reporter asked Benimon about the final play, Skerry was quick to point out that the Tigers would’ve run the same play over and over again.

Skerry also remarked that Towson would look to continue playing in a postseason tournament. Considering that this team went from 1-31 two years ago to 23-10 this season, I think we can all agree that the Tigers are more than deserving of that honor.

In the first half of the second semifinal, William & Mary and Towson played to a 36-36 stalemate. The game featured 10 ties and eight lead changes. ‘Twas an entertaining half of basketball for all.

Mike Burwell worked inside and out, driving to the hoop and knocking down threes from the right corner. Unfortunately, he picked up his third foul while closing out a top-of-the-key triple from Marcus Thornton. Those two players lead all scorers with 13 points apiece.

Both teams made 12 field goals, but the Tigers posted a 45% offensive rebounding percentage, which helped them create six more shot attempts. Keep an eye on that in the second half — Tim Rusthoven, Kyle Gaillard, and Sean Sheldon all already have two fouls. Benimon knows how to rack ‘em up.

The Tribe played the most entertaining game on Saturday, and appears to be doing the same on Sunday. Stay tuned for a terrific finish from Baltimore.

Delaware made 19 shots in the second half, and missed just six. That’s shooting 76% from the field. Any questions?

I’ll divulge a little more. With the game tied at 42-all senior forward Carl Baptiste (14 points in 16 minutes) got things going with his own little mini-run. The spurt continued with fast-break jams from Davon Usher and Jarvis Threatt.

By the time Devon Saddler drilled a trio of treys from the left wing, Delaware’s run had snowballed into a full-on avalanche. The Fightins’ led 74-52 with 8:56 to go, and the Huskies never threatened after that.

Scott Eatherton and Reggie Spencer combined for 38 points, and were the only Huskies in double figures. Northeastern hovered around 40% shooting all day.

The Blue Hens shot 60.4% on the afternoon. All five starters scored in double figures. Usher scored a game-high 21 points. Threatt had 18 points, 11 boards, and five assists. Devon Saddler dropped in 16, and finished one assist shy of a double-double.

As was the case for the majority of conference play, the Monté Ross’ squad just had too many horses.

The YoUDees ran and rolled their way to a 10-0 lead, which they quickly extended to 19-5 before the second media timeout. The ominous start forced a Northeastern timeout. Bill Coen inserted Chris Avenant into the game and went zone. You could immediately sense the hesitation from Delaware, as Jarvis Threatt and Davon Usher, who had been getting to rim at will, started settling for long jump shots.

Avenant and Scott Eatherton hit on a flurry of three-point plays, and the Huskies quickly stormed back into the game. Reggie Spencer, who kept the Huskies afloat during the Hens’ initial spurt, was 3-of-3 from both the field and the foul line, tying Eatherton for a team-high nine points.

Threatt and Usher combined for 23 points. Saddler and Threatt combined for five steals, which keyed a five-point advantage for points off turnovers.

Northeastern dominated the boards, and scored 15 second-chance points (compared to just two for Delaware). That problem was magnified when UD big man Carl Baptiste picked up his third foul with 4:22 remaining in the half.

Delaware can continue scoring at this pace, but you wonder if Northeastern can. Given Baptiste’s foul trouble, the Huskies should be able to continue creating extra possessions. If it comes down a free-throw battle, the Blue Hens should have the edge.