CAA play, which I would argue is some of the best mid-major basketball in the country, is underway. This game was the Fighting Camel's first CAA conference home game so the stakes, understandably, felt higher. Both teams entered this game with a 1-1 conference record, with Delaware winning at home versus Hampton and on the road at Hofstra while Campbell lost at North Carolina A&T and won at Hampton.
The first half saw the Camels get out to a fourteen-to-nothing lead. The press has been a focal point of Campbell's defensive success this season. In this game, it made a huge impact in the first half, forcing Delaware into some early mistakes with FOUR turnovers on the first FIVE possessions. I asked Delaware head coach Martin Ingelsby how he felt his team battled back from the sloppy start against the Campbell press. This was his response:
"I thought we were a little careless early...We settled down, got a feel for it, got some stops... give them a lot of credit, they came out after us and turned us over. We needed to attack against it, i think we were on our heels to start the game... I thought we got into a better rhythm in the second half."
As Coach Ingelsby stated above, attacking the press was what swung the game for the Blue Hens.
A key factor that I believe affected the outcome of this game, specifically for Campbell, was that despite the emphasis on depth early in the season for Campbell, the team only had four players see the floor off the bench and they equated to two total bench points. Delaware was 325th in the country in bench minutes percentage (24.1%) coming into this contest so it was an advantage that Campbell had who was 49th in the same statistic (37.5%).
On a positive note for the Camels, Laurynas Vaistaras coming into this game led the team with an astonishing 24.5% assist percentage. He displayed his high-level ability as a passer in this game with four assists to just one turnover. He also recorded 12 points and 6 rebounds.
I asked Campbell head coach Kevin McGeehan about the impact on offense, specifically as a passer, Laurynas Vaistaras, or "LV" for short, displayed that helped them keep this game close. This was his response:
"We switched him to forward from center a couple games ago but just switched him back to try to get us moving better. His assist to turnover ratio on the year is terrific. We had a bunch we just missed on early in the first half. When we are moving side to side and we are changing actions throughout a possession, we can be a handful and he is a big part of why that is."
This was a competitive contest throughout and despite the points off of turnovers advantage (19 for Campbell to Delaware's 8), it is hard to win if you are the Camels when you get outrebound (34-31 Delaware) and shoot 57% (4-7) from three-point range in the first half and 28.6% (4-14) in the second half. Jyáre Davis, the leading scorer for the Blue Hens entering this game (18.7 PPG) finished with just 9 points. Delaware only led this game for 1:40 total but it was enough to secure a road victory in what is likely the final game the Blue Hens will play in Gore Arena as a member of the CAA as they are headed to Conference USA in 2025.
Delaware takes on UNC Wilmington on Sunday, January 14th, 2024 at Trask Coliseum at 4 pm EST.
Campbell takes on last season's CAA regular-season champion Hofstra on Saturday, January 13th, 2024 at Gore Arena at 2 pm EST. I will have live tweets from this game on my X profile (@TrevorEverette) and a recap story here on house-enterprise.com.