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Delaware Basketball Weekend Preview: 01/18-01/20

Updated: Feb 4


Christian Ray going up for a layup.

(Mikey Reeves, Delaware Athletics)

 

After splitting for the second conference weekend in a row, the Hens travel back home from their Carolina tour for a home matchup against Stony Brook Thursday night. Following this game, Delaware will take a day trip to Philadelphia on Saturday to face CAA's current leader in Drexel. Let's take a look at how conference play has started so far and who we face heading into this weekend.


01/11 @ Campbell


After falling behind to Campbell 14-0 and finding itself behind for the majority of the game, Gerald Drumgoole's three-point make gave Delaware its first lead of the night with 1:40 left in regulation. With the combination of a driving jumper made by Niels Lane, solid team defense and rebounding, and two closing free throws from Cavan Reilly, the Hens found a way to play their best basketball in crunch time to earn a 68-62 road win to start the weekend.


Drumgoole led the way with 20 bench points, continuing to add to his resume for a potential conference 6th Man of the Year honor. Jyare Davis also added to all phases of the game with 9 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. As noted in the Blue Hens Game Recap, Delaware has a 5-0 record when holding its opponents to under 70 points this season. The defense adjusted to Campbell in both halves, where the Fighting Camels scored 27 of their 62 points before the under-16-minute media timeouts. This win was no pushover, as Campbell took down Hofstra 69-68 in a battle last Saturday, who beat Delaware the weekend prior.


01/13 @ UNC Wilmington


Two of the top-ranked teams in the conference faced off to a sell-out crowd on a nationally televised event, with the Blue Hens playing the UNC Wilmington Seahawks. In a back-and-forth show, UNCW eventually took a 66-59 advantage with 6:52 to go. The Hens didn't go down without a fight, cutting the lead to 1 on three separate occasions, including 73-72 with 1:08 remaining, but the Seahawks took care of business with a 79-74 win. UNCW as a team shot a perfect 13-13 from the free throw line, helping close the game out in a more comfortable fashion.


Drumgoole again led the team in points with 16, with Davis, Reilly, and Lane also scoring in double figures. Also in this game was guard Zion Bethea's first appearance of the season, returning from injury. Bethea banked a three and finished with 5 points off 2-8 shooting in 18 minutes. Head Coach Takayo Siddle had the Seahawks playing a really solid press defense, forcing Delaware to 13 turnovers and converting 20 points off them. After falling 0-2 on the road to start their conference play, the Seahawks needed this to come back to even.


Delaware finds itself 2-2 in CAA play so far. In these four games, Drumgoole leads all scorers with 14.8 PPG. Four other Hens are scoring in double digits, with Davis at 13.0, Lane at 11.8, Christian Ray at 11.8, and Reilly at 10.3. Three Hens are averaging over six boards a game, with Ray with 10.0, Davis with 6.8, and Drumgoole with 6.8. Two Hens are averaging over three assists, with Davis at 3.8 and Jalun Trent at 3.3. Reilly is averaging two steals a game in conference play. With Bethea back, an 8-man rotation seems to be set, with Drumgoole and Bethea filtering through the guards and wings and Tyler Houser rotating in between Ray and Davis. Matchups may provide guard Kobe Jerome, wing Wes Peterson, and forward Houston Emory some minutes as well. Now let's get into week 3's opponents.



01/18 vs. Stony Brook

Stony Brook guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore running down the court.

(Via Stony Brook Athletics)

 

Record: 9-8 (2-2 CAA)

PPG/PAG: 70.9/72.2 (-1.3)

KenPom/NET: 234, 225

Leading Scorers: Tyler Stephenson-Moore: 14.9, Aaron Clarke: 12.2, Keenan Fitzmorris: 10.6

Leading Rebounders: Chris Maidoh: 6.2, Andre Snoddy: 6.1, Keenan Fitzmorris: 4.4

Leading Assists: Jared Frey: 2.4


In their first season of the CAA in 2023, Stony Brook finished 6-12 in conference play. Last season, the Seawolves lost 71-60 in Newark in a game where former Hen Jameer Nelson Jr. scored 23 points. With wins at Northeastern and William & Mary, close losses to Towson and Charleston show early promise for Stony Brook heading into their 2024 conference schedule.


Head coach Geno Ford is led offensively by 6'3" fifth-year guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore, who shoots 41% from 3 and is averaging 15.8 points per game in conference play so far. Stephenson-Moore, who earned All-CAA 3rd Team honors last season, is an easy person to root for, as he's developed through and stayed with the program in all 5 seasons. He's played in Newark twice, both in 2019 and 2023, where he's shot a combined 1-14 against the Hens in his career. He will be looking to change that for the Seawolves on Thursday. Stony Brook is also led by 6'1" guard Aaron Clarke, who has scored 12.8 points per game in CAA games. 6'2" point guard Dean Noll averages almost 2 steals a game and has scored 10.3 PPG in his last four.


What stands out for Stony Brook is their length. Starting alongside Stephenson-Moore, Clarke, and Noll and Fairfield graduate transfer Chris Maidoh and grad Keenan Fitzmorris, who originally transferred in from Stanford last season. Per the Stony Brook website, Maidoh stands at 6'10" and Fitzmorris at 7'0". Between the two of them, they average over two blocks per game.


It makes sense that KenPom has them as the top-30 team in the country in block percentage at 6.6%. With Davis at 6'7", Ray at 6'6", and Houser at 6'9", it will be interesting to see how Delaware schemes their defense for this one. Outside of their current starting five, the Seawolves also receive contributions off the bench from 6'4" winger Jared Frey, who shoots 41% from 3 and leads the team in assists, and 6'6" Central Connecticut State transfer Andre Snoddy, who does a little bit of everything.


This will be the first of two matchups against Stony Brook this season, with the Hens returning the trip to New York for the regular season finale on Saturday, March 2nd.



01/20 @ Drexel

Drexel forward Amari Williams.

(Tyger Williams)

 

Record: 12-6 (5-0 CAA)

PPG/PAG: 73.7/63.4 (+10.3)

KenPom/NET: 104, 105

Leading Scorers: Justin Moore: 12.9, Amari Williams: 11.9, Luke House: 8.7

Leading Rebounders: Amari Williams: 7.9, Lamar Oden Jr.: 6.0, Lucas Monroe: 4.8

Leading Assists: Justin Moore: 3.3


The Drexel Dragons returned everyone in their rotation last season except for senior Coletrane Washington. Seeing parity through a roster is uncommon in today's land of college basketball, and head coach Zach Spiker was able to maintain a roster that finished 10-8 in conference play last season. Number one on the list of returners includes two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Year Amari Williams. Williams, a 6'10" forward from England, was selected by the coaches as the Preseason All-CAA Player of the Year.


Williams, as expected, has started his senior season off on an elite level on both ends. In just 22 minutes per game, he averages 11.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 0.8 steals this season. In Drexel's 5 games of CAA play so far, Williams has upped his point total to 14. Through Williams's 5 career games against the Hens, he's averaged 11.2 points, 7.6 boards, 1.2 blocks, and 4 turnovers across 26.6 minutes a game. Even though Drexel won both matchups last season, Delaware frustrated Williams offensively, as he had 14 turnovers in them.


When it comes to Drexel's offensive success, a third of their possessions go through Amari, according to KenPom, which ranks as the 11th-most-used player in the country. But when you talk about their Yin, you must also acknowledge their Yang. Justin Moore, Drexel's hometown recruit who started last season as a true freshman, is rated as a fringe top-100 player nationally in terms of offensive usage, with 28.7% of the possessions going through him.


Last season, Moore scored a career-high 21 points against Delaware, shooting 8-8 from the stripe. Moore has already broken that record in his sophomore season by scoring 34 against Bryant last month. In conference play, Moore is currently averaging 13 points, 4.8 assists, and a steal a game. Moore has definitely taken the sophomore leap that many expected him to do. Justin proved himself as the fast successor to Camren Wynter at the point guard position, who led the Dragons in the backcourt for four seasons before transferring to Penn State in 2022 for his last year of eligibility via COVID.


A big reason for Drexel's early conference success comes from their 3-point efficiency. Moore, averaging 31% from 3 through the entire season so far, is shooting 7-for-17 (41%) in 2024. Luke House, a 6'4" grad wing who originally transferred from DII's California University of Pennsylvania, has increased his 3PT% from last season (38%) to this season (40%) and is shooting 10-22 (45.5%) in CAA play so far.


Another starter, 6'6" grad forward Mate Okros, has improved his shooting beyond the arc from 35% to almost 44% this season, including 12-22 (54.5%) in the conference. 6'5" redshirt freshman guard Shane Blakeney is shooting 3-5 (60%), 6'5" senior guard Yarne Butler is shooting 3-7 (42.9%), 6'6" sophomore guard Kobe MaGee is shooting 2-6 (33%), and 6'6" grad forward Lucas Monroe is shooting 1-2 (50%).


I know this has been a lot of numbers, but Drexel has made 39 3-pointers, averaging 44% as an entire team, to start their conference regular season schedule. For a team that builds their foundation from defense (holding teams to under 64 points a game), if they can make their shots at a rate like this, they will be very hard to beat.


From everything listed above, it's shown that Spiker recruited, developed, and kept a solid core. Usually using a 10-man rotation, Drexel has found this early success even without penciled-in starter Lamar Oden Jr., who suffered a lower body injury last month against Bryant.


This has been a lot of praise for Drexel, deservingly so, but Delaware has the team to give them issues. Drexel won both 2023 matchups, but Delaware's new core has continuously grown together over the past months and stayed in every ballgame so far this season. A win in Philadelphia would be huge for taking the next step as a team.


I will be at both games this weekend, so be sure to say hi if you see me down by the court on Thursday or in general admission seating on Saturday. The last time I saw a basketball game at Drexel was when our Lady Hens won the conference championship in their own house to clinch a spot in March Madness two years ago. Let's hope for the same result this weekend at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.



Twitter: @SSN_BlueHens

@SSN_BlueHens

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