Lady Hens return from Conn. disappointed, heads held high
Published: Monday, April 8, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 8, 2013 18:04
As the final seconds ticked off the clock during the Sweet 16 women’s basketball matchup between Delaware and the University of Kentucky at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., it was clear to both those in attendance and fans watching on television that the defeat of the Hens signaled much more than the end of another season. It indicated the end of an era, during which countless records were set, many of them by senior forward Elena Delle Donne.
During her final season as a Hen, Delle Donne was the CAA Player of the Year, Capital One Academic All-American of the Year, Senior CLASS award winner, Wooden Award All-American and a first-team All-American and was recently named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division I Coach’s All-American Team.
Delle Donne has set 10 individual university records and five CAA records. She became just the ninth player in Division I history to score more than 3,000 career points and is fifth all-time with 3,039 points.
“This has been awesome,” Delle Donne said. “We have made a lot of history at Delaware, made our fans very proud and we’re proud of ourselves also.”
Six other seniors—Danielle Parker, Kayla Miller, Lauren Carra, Trumae Lucas, Jaquetta May and Chelsea Craig—also saw their playing careers end, but not before making Delaware athletics history.
The Hens have won back-to-back CAA titles in the last two seasons, advanced to the first Sweet 16 in program history and won three NCAA Tournament games in the last four years. Prior to the 2011-2012 season, the Hens had never won a game in the tournament.
“It’s going to be hard, but we have had an incredible journey here,” senior forward Danielle Parker said after the game.
In the postgame press conference, head coach Tina Martin focused only on the positives, first congratulating the Wildcats on their victory and then speaking of the illustrious careers many of her players had.
“I can’t be more proud of my team,” Martin said. “I can’t be more proud of the season we’ve had, and they need to hold their heads up because they represented this university and this state so so well, both on and off the floor, and it’s a credit to them as individuals and to our university how this group of young ladies handled themselves.”
When asked about the difficulty of holding back such strong emotions, Carra showed that it was no easy task. She began to answer the question but stopped mid-sentence as a wave of emotions flooded over her. Parker began to console her teammate and answered the question for her.
“It is easier said than done obviously,” Parker said. “Like I said when we got in the locker room it was the same thing that coach Martin said, ‘We’ve accomplished a lot, this group of seven seniors.”
Although the season has ended, Delle Donne’s basketball career is far from over. She will enter the WNBA draft, which will be held on Monday, and will likely be a top-three pick.
When asked about how she planned to prepare for the draft and her WNBA career, Delle Donne indicated it was not on her mind following the loss.
“I’m not even sure about that and haven’t even thought about it yet because I have been so focused on my college career, but now that it’s over I’m going to prepare and train like I always have and then whatever team drafts me, I’ll do whatever the coach wants me to do and be receptive.”
Delle Donne’s future looks bright, but the remaining juniors, sophomore and freshman have a long offseason of hard work ahead.
Along with some big shoes to fill.