Hornets have eye on rebounding

 

A year ago, the Delaware State men’s basketball team made it all the way to the final game of the MidEastern Athletic Conference tournament.

This year, the Hornets’ season ended at the first possible moment.

With its elimination in the first round thanks to Monday’s 63-58 loss to Savannah State, Delaware State wrapped up the year at 7-25. It is the second time in the last three seasons the Hornets failed to make it past the first round in the MEAC tournament.

DSU coach Keith Walker by .

Keith Walker

The loss to Savannah State highlighted two problems that plagued DelState all season — trouble holding leads and an inability to rebound.

The Hornets were up by double-digits on Savannah State, but were outscored 6-0 in the final 2:21 and 34-21 in the second half. Meanwhile Savannah State outrebounded DSU 32-25 in the game.

Delaware State had the worst rebounding margin in the conference at -7.8, which is more than three points worse than 12th-place Florida A&M, were also last in defensive rebounds per game with 22.6 and gave up the most offensive rebounds with 435 total.

The Hornets only had one player reach 100 total rebounds this season, guard DeAndre Haywood who averaged 3.3 a game.

“We’ll certainly have that issue addressed and answered hopefully through recruiting,” said DSU coach Keith Walker late in the season.

One thing the Hornets can look at as a positive is they return nearly all their top contributors.

They graduate just two seniors in Aric Dickerson and Seaford High graduate Jason Owens. Monday’s entire starting lineup will all be back and so will eight of the nine players who saw time in the first round game, with the lone exception being Dickerson who just six minutes.

“The majority of our key players will be back next season,” Walker said after the game. “With another year of experience under their belts and the additional talent we plan to bring in, I believe we can be one of the better teams in the league next season.”

Next season will be a stark contrast to how the Hornets began this one.

Coming into 2015-16, DSU was trying to replace four starters and two All-MEAC performers (Kendall Gray and Amere May). The Hornets started the season with six players seeing time who had never played a minute of Division I basketball.

“We knew it would be a situation where a lot of our players would have to learn the system and learn how to compete at the Division I level,” Walker said. “We knew it would be a process but throughout the year the team showed signed of progress. As the season progressed they seemed to get more comfortable. Later on in the season the wins started coming and we became more and more competitive. I think this will be a valuable year as far as experience goes and something we can build on.”

The Hornets will be thankful they have three more years left of Devin Morgan.

As a true freshman, Morgan, who played shooting guard in high school, won the starting point guard job for DSU just a couple games into the season. He was awarded MEAC Rookie of the Year honors and led the Hornets in scoring with 12.0 points per game.

“He’s come in and done a tremendous job,” Walker said. “He’s welcomed the teaching, welcomed the coaching and actually embraced his position as a point guard. … He’s one of the younger players that we can build the base on and I’m looking forward to the future with him running this team.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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