Injury in past, Hens’ Anderson excited as hoop season starts tonight at Terps

Kevin Anderson, shown playing against Notre Dame, averaged 13.7 points and totaled 32 assists in 11 games as a freshman before being injured. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

NEWARK — It was only one game.

Still, it was No. 9 Notre Dame that was on the basketball court with Delaware that night.

So for Kevin Anderson to pour in 23 points with seven assists in just his ninth college game was an eye-opener for the freshman guard.

“After that game, I knew I could play with anybody,” said Anderson.

Unfortunately, Anderson didn’t get the chance to prove it last winter.

Just when he was starting to look like a CAA Rookie of the Year candidate, Anderson’s season came to a crashing halt. He was lost for the season with a knee injury he suffered in a Christmas Day practice.

That’s why Anderson is so excited to be back on the court for the Hens’ season opener tonight at Maryland. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Xfinity Center in College Park, Md.

Clearly, Delaware needs a healthy Anderson to rely on, too.

The Hens have to replace arguably their top player, Ryan Daly, who left abruptly last spring to transfer to St. Joseph’s after scoring 1,000 points in his first two seasons with Delaware.

The Hens also lost — temporarily — guard Ryan Allen to a broken foot. The sophomore guard, who did end up being the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, is expected back before the league schedule starts in January.

On top of it all, the 6-foot-5 Anderson will also be Delaware’s point guard. He averaged 13.7 points and totaled 32 assists in 11 games as a freshman before being injured.

Blue Hens coach Martin Ingelsby (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

“We’re really excited to have Kevin back, obviously,” said Martin Ingelsby, who starts his third season as the Hens’ coach with a record of 27-39. “Last season he was playing as well as any young guard in our league. He was really learning the game. … When he got injured, I thought we were really starting to find our identity on the offensive and defensive end.

“We’re starting to see glimpses of the old Kevin Anderson back. He has such a great feel for our team and how we want to play. We’re going to run a lot though him and let him quarterback the group.”

Despite Daly’s unexpected departure, the Hens feel optimistic about this year’s squad.

Senior center Eric Carter (11.0 points, 9.1 rebounds) was a CAA Preseason Honorable Mention honoree while senior guard Darian Bryant and junior forward Jacob Cushing, along with Allen, are all veterans. Allen tied the school record with 86 three-pointers and averaged 15.3 points per game.

To that group, the Hens will add 6-foot-11 junior Colin Goss, who is eligible now after sitting out last year following his transfer from George Washington.

Delaware also brought in four true freshmen plus a grad transfer in senior Ryan Johnson from Mercer.

With two more transfers who will sit out this season along with some walk-ons, the Hens have 15 players in the program. They say that’s made for a lot better competition in practice.

And while the Hens know that the outside world sees Daly’s departure as a big setback, they plan on keep making progress without him.

“We’ve moved on,” said Carter. “He had to do what was best for him. I supported him and tried to help him with his decision.

“But the train hasn’t stopped when he decided to leave. I mean, the next day we were still in the gym. I think that we’re going to surprise a lot of people. We have other guys that are going to step up and be ready to go. It’s going to be exciting.”

Delaware hopes that Kevin Anderson is one of those guys who is ready to step back up when he gets on the floor.

“I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’m so anxious. I just want to get out there and play right now.

“I think, as a team, we’re all excited. We’re all going to play hard and we’re going to show the world that we’re a good team.”

Free throws

The Hens next play at St. Peter’s on Saturday before hosting Chestnut Hill on Nov. 13 as part of the Delaware Invitational. … The Hens’ first home game against a Division I program is against UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 23. … Maryland leads the all-time series with Delaware only 3-2 but downed the Hens 76-46 in 2007. … Delaware is trying to win its fourth-straight season opener for the first time since 1999.

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