Local college notebook: DSU men look to build on upset

Eric Skeeters has spoken about how this Delaware State men’s basketball season is all about laying the foundation for a brighter future.

The Hornets took a big step toward that this week.

Delaware State edged Delaware on Wednesday night for its first win over a Division I program this season. It took the Hornets until Feb. 20 a year ago to record their first victory against a Division I team.

Skeeters knew what the challenges were when he took over the program late in the summer. The Hornets had only four healthy returning players.

So for a young team, Wednesday was a huge accomplishment — consider that the Hornets were 21-point underdogs at Delaware according to sportsbooks.

“Think about where the program was and at this point in time we’re just trying to get better every day,” Skeeters said. “We’re laying the foundation.”

It helped that the Hornets had more than a week off in between games before the Delaware contest.

Skeeters said the team could press the reset button after a blowout home loss to Jacksonville State on Dec. 8. The Hornets had 11 days off and were able to recuperate during finals week and some long practice sessions.

“We just went right back to the basics,” Skeeters said.

Skeeters gave a reminder why he took the job in the first place on Wednesday. He wants to bring Delaware State back to the top of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Wednesday was laying the first brick in that foundation.

“They won a championship before,” Skeeters said. “I want to get back to winning a championship. Winning your conference is hard, I don’t care which conference you play in, winning one is hard.”

Hens have to regroup

Of course, DSU’s last-second win was more of a punch to the gut for the Hens.

A couple weeks ago, Delaware was 7-2 with an impressive six-point loss to Maryland on its resume.

But now the Hens are 8-5 and have lost three of their last four games. They open their CAA schedule on Dec. 28 at Hofstra.

“They wanted it more, plain and simple,” UD senior Eric Carter said about the Hornets on Wednesday night, “It’s proven by the score. Guys were checked out and thought it was going to be a cakewalk. We knew it was going to be tough.

“We have to come back on Christmas night (for practice) and get a lot better. We have a long way to go. … We didn’t handle business at all. We haven’t been good lately. After Christmas we have to come back, hold each other accountable and get a lot better.”

While the Hens shot a season-low 6-for-30 from three-point range against DelState, coach Martin Ingelsby came away most disappointed in his team’s defense.

“We needed to do it on the defensive end,” he said. “That comes back to our group digging in and being men about putting stops together. They (the Hornets) were just quicker to the basketball than us and wanted it more. Obviously this was a huge game being in-state. … We’ve got to be more ready to compete and play.”

Wesley facing Princeton

The Wesley College men’s basketball team will challenge itself with an exhibition game at Division I Princeton next month.

The contest will be played on Jan. 27 at Princeton at noon.

Wolverines’ coach Dean Burrows said it’s not unusual for Division III schools to play mid-season scrimmage/exhibition games. Wesley also played its regular-season opener at Division I Towson this season.

Burrows also admits to being a fan of Princeton basketball and its former Hall of Fame coach, Pete Carril.

“It’s all about the ‘moments and memories’ that we can create for our guys,” said Burrows.

UD excited to add transfer

Delaware officially announced the addition of Villanova transfer Dylan Painter to its men’s basketball program on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore can practice with the Blue Hens right away but won’t be eligible to play until the end of the 2019 semester.

After redshirting last year in the Wildcats’ national-championship season, Painter will have a season and a half of eligibility remaining.

Painter did play in 23 games as a true freshman at Villanova, finishing with 20 points and 31 rebounds. He also played in the Wildcats’ first two games this season, posting five points and six rebounds.

As a first-team All-Stater at Hershey, Pa. High, Painter averaged 22.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game.

“Dylan is a talented frontcourt player whose skill set and competitiveness will be a great asset to our team,” Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby said in a press release. “He comes to us having been a part of a winning culture at Villanova University, and we expect that his experience and leadership ability will make a positive impact on our group.”

Rocco likes QB depth

The Delaware football team has struggled at the quarterback position for much of the last eight seasons.

And a lack of quality depth has been at least part of the problem.

But coach Danny Rocco is pretty intrigued by what the Hens have at QB after signing Cade Pribula from Central York, Pa. High on Wednesday.

Going into next season, Delaware now has senior Pat Kehoe, sophomore Nolan Henderson (Smyrna), freshman Anthony Paoletti and Pribula at the position.

“This thing is starting to shape up the way you want it to shape up. .. the way you need to have it shape up when you’re running a successful program,” said Rocco. “We’re excited about that.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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