Notre Dame Basketball: Previewing the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens

Notre Dame vs Ball State Feature
T.J. Gibbs guarding Ball State’s Tayler Persons in Notre Dame’s 80-77 loss to the Cardinals. (Source: The Associated Press)

South Bend, IN. — The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are hitting the road to Delaware to take on the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens after their last-second, buzzer-beater loss to the Ball State Cardinals on Tuesday.

This game could be seen as a welcome home party for Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, who began his head coaching career in Delaware before starting his tenure in South Bend.

Brey coached the Fightin’ Blue Hens from 1995-2000, going 99-51 in five years, leading them to two NCAA Tournament appearances and two America East Championships.

Delaware is currently 4-5 on the season, losing their most recent game to the Buffalo Bulls, 75-72, and are coached by Martin Ingelsby, who was an assistant coach for the Fighting Irish from 2009-2016.

Scouting Report

The Fightin’ Blue Hens are not an overly big team but do have some talent and decently sized players that will give Notre Dame some fight. Delaware averages 72.8 points and grabs about 36 rebounds per game, something the Irish struggled with in their loss to Ball State, regardless of the clear height advantage they had over the Cardinals.

Ball State had a similar height range as the Blue Hens, but still out rebounded the Irish, 40-26.

Picked to finish 7th in the Colonial Athletic Association, Delaware plays a slowed paced game on offense. They have a fair bit of experience on their team but start two sophomores and a freshman with one of their second year players, Ryan Daly, being their leading scorer.


Three Players to Watch

1. Ryan Daly

As mentioned before, Daly is the Blue Hens’ leading scorer, averaging 17 points per game, to go along with five rebounds and two assists per game, with good showings in all of their big games. He is coming off of back-to-back 22+ point games, and is shooting 44% from the field, but is struggling from the free throw line, shooting 68.6%. It might not be the worst thing in the world to get Daly to the free throw line considering his low shooting percentage.


2. Ryan Allen

After not playing the first four games of the season, Ryan Allen has been contributing good numbers so far for the Blue Hens, recording double digit scoring figures in his last four games. Regardless if he is only a freshman, he is second on the team in points and whether he is coming off of the bench or starting, he could be dangerous.


3. Eric Carter

After averaging double digit scoring figures in the first four games of the season, including an 18 point and 12 rebound performance against the Bradley Braves, Eric Carter missed three of four games due to an ankle injury. Due to the fact that he was still recovering from his ankle injury, his first game back brought his average down after only recording four rebounds and zero points.

He is still capable of recording double digit scoring figures if healthy, and is the leading rebounder on the team. Most recently, against Buffalo, he dropped only six points but grabbed 11 boards and blocked four shots. Martinas Geben and Bonzie Colson will have their hands full.


Dark Horse Player

Chyree Walker

Freshman Chyree Walker is coming off a good performance against Buffalo, in which he recorded a career high in points, dropping 12 and grabbing five rebounds. He has shown flashes this season, but lacks consistency. However, he shoots the ball well and if given the minutes, he could provide some extra juice for the Blue Hens.


Prediction

Notre Dame has had a rough couple of games. They got demolished by the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing, experienced some struggles against the St. Francis (Brooklyn) Terriers, a game in which Colson and Brey both got ejected, and most recently were upset by Ball State.

But, I see Notre Dame bouncing back against the Blue Hens. Delaware is not the greatest free throw shooting team (66.8% from the free throw line), so fouling them is not the worst thing in the world. However, they can rebound and as the Ball State game indicated, and Notre Dame must do a better job on the boards and limit second chances. If they take over the pace of the game and tire out those Delaware players that usually play almost the entire game, Notre Dame should be in a good spot.

The Fighting Irish got a wake up call last Tuesday, showing them that any team is capable of beating them, regardless of how experienced and talented they are. Notre Dame will be focused in this game and will secure the win, giving them momentum for their next game against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Notre Dame – 87
Delaware – 70

Tip off is set for Saturday December 9th at 7 PM, broadcasting live on CBS Sports Network.

– R. Scarfone