Mutts shows why Hens are excited about newcomers

Sophomore Justyn Mutts, a transfer from High Point, netted a game-high 23 points against Bridgewater on Tuesday night. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Twenty-one months isn’t necessarily that long a stretch of time.

But, if you’re Justyn Mutts, it felt like forever.

That’s how long it was between playing in genuine basketball games for the Delaware junior forward.

“From the time that I decided I was going to transfer, I was just like, ‘All right, let me just put in on the calendar and figure out how long I’ve got to wait,’” said Mutts, who had to sit out a year after transferring from High Point.

“When you’re in the midst of having to sit out and working out every day with no games coming up, time seems like it’s going slow.”

So when he finally got the chance to play again on Tuesday night, Mutts hit the ground running as the Blue Hens dispatched Division III Bridgewater, 97-51, in their men’s basketball season opener at the Carpenter Center.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound sophomore poured in a game-high 23 points with 13 rebounds in his first game action since Feb. 27, 2018.

Junior Ryan Allen scored 21 points after hitting six three-pointers for the Hens. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Mutts is one of three transfers expected to make a big impact for Delaware this winter. But guard Nate Darling (UAB), who is nursing a minor leg injury, and center Dylan Painter (Villanova), who won’t be eligible until after the end of the fall semester, could only watch from the bench on Tuesday.

So it was left to Mutts to show at least one reason why coach Martin Ingelsby is excited about this year’s squad.

Clearly, Mutts plays with a lot of energy and emotion.

“He was real excited,” said junior guard Kevin Anderson, who had nine points and nine assists. “That’s all he could talk about for like the past three days — ‘It’s game week, it’s game week.’

“He’s a real high energy guy and I love it. Every team needs somebody like him. He’s somebody that could drive to the rack and dunk on anybody. We need stuff like that.”

“Big time energy, that’s my main thing,” said Mutts, who was 9-of-12 from the floor. “I’m just a happy kid. I’m just a really energetic person. I try to share that with people around me. I want everybody around me to feel the great vibes, the great energy that I try to bring.”

Of course, this year’s Delaware squad is more than just a bunch of transfers.

While the Hens lost Ryan Daly to St. Joe’s two years ago and Ithiel Horton to Pitt over the summer, they still have Anderson and fellow junior Ryan Allen as three-year starters.

On Tuesday, Allen — the former CAA Rookie of the Year — netted 21 points after sinking 6-of-9 three-pointers. Senior Collin Goss (13 points), redshirt freshman Aleks Novakovich (11) and true freshman Ebby Asamoah (10) also scored in double figures.

Ingelsby expects Darling to be on the court this weekend when the Hens play three games in three days in Kissimmee, Fla. Delaware faces Oakland, Southern Illinois and UTSA, starting on Friday.

A 6-foot-5 guard from Nova Scotia, Darling could end up being another big scorer for the Hens.

“He gives us more firepower,” said Ingelsby. “As you watch college basketball — especially our league — you can’t have enough guys who are able to put the ball in the hoop. He can really do that.

“I think he takes pressure off of Ryan and Kevin to have to try to do too much.”

Ultimately, though, Delaware won’t really know what it has until the 6-foot-10, 225-pound Painter gets on the court in December.

Since all three transfers have been practicing with the Hens after they came to Newark last year, they’re not a mystery to Ingelsby and his staff. But it’s going to take a little time until Delaware knows what they have as a group.

“I almost feel like you’re coaching maybe two or three different teams throughout the next five months,” said Ingelsby. “It’s my job and my staff’s job to kind of piece this group together and see what works and what doesn’t.

“But I love who we can be. I love the growth that this team can have. It’s an exciting group to come to work with every day because we do have a lot of interchangeable parts. … I’m excited to see who we can become.”

Free throws

The Hens don’t play at home again until Nov. 27 when they host Stony Brook at 7 p.m. . … Six different players sank three-pointers for Delaware on Tuesday. … The Hens had 25 assists to 13 turnovers in Tuesday’s contest, in which they never trailed. … Goss and Jacob Cushing (8 points) are the only seniors on the roster.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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