Last night, I traveled to Newark, Del. to cover the game between No. 9 Maryland and Delaware. Both teams are possible NCAA tournament foes for the Lady Lions, so here’s a first glance of the two with the game “who’s better?”
*Delaware’s star senior forward Elena Delle Donne played her first game in a month after being sidelined with lyme’s disease. She and her coach, Tina Martin, both agreed that she was not anywhere close to a 100 percent on this night.*
Neither team shot lights out, but Delaware relies mainly on Delle Donne to provide the shooting spark as she took 23 shots from the field and three from beyond the arc.
The Blue Hens' other three-point threat, senior guard Lauren Carra went 6-for-13 from the field and 2-for-6 from beyond the arc. Besides those two, their depth is limited outside the post.
While Danielle Parker adds another player inside for Delaware, their post presence lives and dies with Delle Donne. Consistently in the second half, the Blue Hens looked for a posted up Delle Donne to dish the ball into.
Maryland on the other hand has a dynamic offensive threat with potency inside the paint and on the perimeter.
Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins provide the points inside the point while Katie Rutan drains the three as she nailed three out of five shots from beyond the arc. However, Rutan’s 3s were contested and she still made them, including one from NBA range.
Freshman point guard Chloe Pavlech also is not afraid to take a three. Even though she notably does not have the same success as Rutan, Carra said Pavlech surprised them with some of the shots she made.
Maryland controlled the boards all game long. Partnered with their physicality and size, the Terps grabbed 44 rebounds compared to Delaware’s 35. Out of those 44 rebounds, 13 collected were on the offensive glass allowing for 17 second chance points.
The Terrapins' two best rebounders are forwards Thomas and Hawkins, who corralled 29 rebounds between the two of them (Hawkins – 16, Thomas – 13).
Delaware suffers with its lack of size. The Blue Hens have just two players 6-foot-2 or over, Delle Donne and Danielle Parker. After the game, Martin said the lack of taller players causes struggles for Delaware when competing against top teams in the country.
Despite Delaware’s lack of size, the team can be gritty grabbing rebounds and always chasing after a ball. Multiple times when there was a loose ball, there were a handful of Blue Hens surrounding it. One of the best players to exemplify this is senior guard Kayla Miller who was seen diving on the ground a few times for a rebound.
This was a too close to call, thus, resulted in a draw.
Maryland has a unique full court pressure that leaves few shots open for the opponent. In the game last night, the Terrapins had six steals on Delaware’s 13 turnovers. But the most important statistic is that they limited Delaware to shoot 32.8 percent from the field.
Delaware on the other hand plays a more half-court defense that creates havoc on the floor. The Blue Hens constantly communicate to switch matchups on defense. While the team will not create many forced turnovers, it will not allow many open shots.
Best Player: Elena Delle Donne
Far and away, the 6-foot-5 forward changes the game just being out on the court. It should come as no surprise that the team that made it to the Elite Eight last year, has struggled going 5-3 with Delle Donne being sidelined with lyme’s disease for most of the year.
Delaware is a good team without the Wade Trophy Watch List nominee, but with Delle Donne, they are a great team.
The Wilmington native helped rally the Blue Hens to come back from a 12-point deficit in the second half, cutting the lead down to three with a three-pointer. Unfortunately, for Delaware, that would be the closest it would get. Yet, without her, the game would have never of been that close.
To illustrate the presence that The Ursuline Academy alumnus creates on the court, she caused a turnover without even touching the player or ball. While running down the floor she ran next to a Maryland ball handler, who panicked and threw an errant pass to Delaware’s Miller.
It is her size, length and skill that makes Delle Donne the best player not only between Maryland and Delaware, but one of the best in the country.
Going Forward Prediction:
Maryland and Delaware will both make it to the Elite Eight.