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Anthony Dell'Orso, Campbell Camels take down Elon in the national spotlight

Updated: Jan 27

When the bright lights of a national television game come to an arena, it breathes excitement and energy into a building. Gore Arena last night was the best of any game I have been to there this year. The records of the teams didn't matter for forty minutes. All that mattered was the game being played on the court. The energy and level of play were organic and a beautiful representation of college basketball.


Coming into the game Elon has done two things very well this year that were going to be major points of emphasis for Campbell, shoot the three-pointer (36.4%) and play a lot of zone. Early in the first half, Campbell was finding ways to move the ball inside the zone and Elon would occasionally implement a press to change the tempo when the Camels had the ball. Elon got a strong contribution from Zac Ervin in the first half. He had 14 points on 3-6 from three-point range and 5-5 from the free throw line. However, as I have stated before, a game can change quickly when a team gets some good momentum to end the first half. Campbell ended the half with a hook shot field goal by Alex Kotov, some free throws by Dell'Orso, and a three-pointer to beat the buzzer by Elijah Walsh that sent the crowd into a frenzy.


To begin the second half the Camels used that fuel from the end of the first half and came out ready to perform. An offensive rebound and layup by Dell'Orso and a steal leading to a fast break dunk by Walsh gave Campbell a five-point lead, 43-38. Elon battled to stay in this game but there was one play in particular that padded the Camel's lead to 13 points at 9:49 remaining in the game. Sophomore guard Omar Harris gets his first minutes and points of the season with a left-hand floater. Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan before he even began his press conference exclaimed: "How about Omar [Harris], huh?! Lefty floater!" I asked Coach McGeehan about Omar and specifically his defensive impact:

"He has been really good in practice... defensively he's really good on the ball. Has a really good understanding so this week we tried him out with the first and second group to make sure the knowledge level was up enough because he's been on the scout team. He produced."

Coach McGeehan was complimentary to everyone involved in making the environment what it was but his message to Camel fans was clear:

"The crowd was amazing, the students, all the coaches that got their teams here for us. It was incredible. Obviously national TV is an exciting part of it but that can be our atmosphere on any given night even when we don't have sandwiches to give out. I am just so happy for everyone that that occured in our arena."
 

Anthony Dell'Orso interviewed by CBS Sports' Dr. John Giannini
Anthony Dell'Orso interviewed by CBS Sports' Dr. John Giannini

Anthony Dell'Orso, also known as "Delly", is a player in college basketball that you should know about. If you are reading this after the game after watching him for the first time, let me catch you up to speed. In CAA play, he is averaging 22.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals per game on a 58.8% true shooting percentage, and the team is 4-3. He has been Campbell's leader on and off the floor. Here is what Coach McGeehan said about Dell'Orso after the win:

"...obviously Delly [Anthony Dell'Orso] was terrific. I shouldn't say obviously, that is unfair and doesn't give him his due. He played an incredible game, so poised. What you are starting to see in these games when we played well, is you're starting to see him evolve as an orchestrator. [William & Mary and Hofstra games] were that way...starting to know how to control the entire game even he doesn't have the ball in his hands"

I give Elon and head coach Billy Taylor credit for their fight for the full forty minutes. They pressured the ball well down the stretch on defense and on offense they attacked the rim more often which led to shots at the free-throw line to get the lead down to as little as eight with 02:11 remaining in the game. It is just year two of the Billy Taylor era and Elon has already matched their season win total from last year. With Coach Taylor's experience combined with time to develop a solid group of players, winning ways should be coming in Elon, NC.


 

Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan is often quoted this season saying this team looks to “get better every day.” Sometimes getting better isn’t always something you do on the court in practice or a game. An integral part of a team's success is how they get better by learning from their mistakes. Campbell returned home to Gore Arena following a disappointing 77-43 result at TU Arena in Towson, Maryland. This victory over Elon is a perfect example of a team “getting better every day.” The Camels learned from their mistakes in Maryland, and just like numerous times this season, they knew how to capitalize on them.


Campbell's plays College of Charleston at home on Saturday, January 27th, 2024 at 2 PM EST. Elon plays at Hampton on Saturday, January 27th, 2024 at 2 PM EST. Follow along on X (@TrevorEverette) for more content and read my work for House of College Hoops and House Enterprise here.


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