Men’s hoops look to keep last season’s hot streak
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 19:11
The men’s basketball team will open its 108th season with a sense of optimism this fall. After winning nine straight games to finish the regular season last year, the Hens were picked by Jay Bilas of ESPN to win the 2012-13 CAA Championship.
The Hens return with their top-five scorers from last year, including four starters that made up 87 percent of their scoring and 81.9 percent of their rebounding. The only starter not returning is guard Khalid Lewis, who transferred to La Salle University this summer.
On the court, Delaware will be led by preseason All-CAA first team selections Devon Saddler and Jamelle Hagins.
Saddler is a 6 feet 2 inches tall junior guard who scored in double digits in all but two games last season. He is a former CAA Freshman of the Year who hit 59 three-point shots a year ago. However, he did averaged 3.2 turnovers and 1.8 assists per game. Saddler said he thinks he will benefit from having Hagins on the court with him again this season.
“[Jamelle Hagins] always knows where I’m at, and I always know where he’s at,” Saddler said. “I always try to get him the ball where he wants it and he always kicks it out and knows where my hot spots are. He’s always got my back.”
Hagins was recently recognized by ESPN.com as one of the top 10 rebounders in the nation. The senior forward finished last season fifth in the nation in rebounding and posted 15 double-doubles. Furthermore, Hagins has the opportunity to finish this year ranked in top-five for most blocked shots in CAA history.
Offensively, head coach Monté Ross said Hagins has developed into a strong paint player. His points, rebounding, blocks, steals, assists, field-goal percentages and free-throw percentages have increased in each of his first three seasons. Aside from his own improvements, Hagins said this year’s team will be much improved from a year ago.
“I think we’re a lot better just because we’ve grown a lot over the summer and got to play with each other a lot more,” Hagins said. “We know each other. We know how to work the ball and where we can score at.”
The Hens will also welcome junior forward Carl Baptiste into their rotation. Hagins said the former McDonalds All-American nominee will help him rebound the basketball.
Ross, who is in his seventh-year as the head coach at Delaware, said the 6 feet 9 inches tall Baptiste’s contributions will be significant.
“I think Carl Baptiste, who redshirted last season after transferring from Saint Joe’s is going to have a big impact for us,” Ross said. “He’s a big body who can play with his back to the basket, rebounds and also has the ability to score the basketball.”
Highlighting Delaware’s schedule this season is an away matchup against nationally-ranked Duke University. On Dec. 1, the Hens will travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to take on head coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils.
Despite overcoming an early 15-point deficit, the Hens lost their first game of the season to La Salle. Explorers center Steve Zack scored 19 points to lead his team to a 73-66 victory.
Regardless of the opponent, Hagins said he believes the men’s basketball team deserves more support from the student body. He said it is discouraging to play home games in a virtually empty arena. He said the fans attendance means much more than without them.
“I think we deserve the campus’ support,” Hagins said. “We work hard in the offseason and we work hard during the season and it’s kind of a heartbreaker to come out there and not feel like we don’t have enough fans to fill the gym, or like they didn’t open the doors or anything.”