Skeeters thinks DSU men are on right track

Pinky Wiley is one of four starters returning to the Delaware State men’s basketball team.

DOVER — Eric Skeeters says he sees the light.

There was a lot of darkness over the first two years of his rebuild of the Delaware State University men’s basketball program.

And this past season was another year of building as the Hornets went 6-26. But it’s how they ended which has Skeeters optimistic.

Delaware State won three of four games, prior to its elimination in the MEAC Tournament to top seed North Carolina Central. All of those victories came away from home.

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train, it’s progress,” Skeeters said. “It’s a credit to our guys and their mental toughness. When you start conference play 1-4 heading into February, some teams pack it in and feel sorry for themselves. We lost a lot of heart-breakers, double OTs, having layups rim out at the buzzer, but these guys played all the way to the end.”

The Hornets are only graduating one senior who saw serious minutes, John Crosby, who was a grad transfer from Dayton.

The returning pieces give Skeeters some confidence headed into the 2020-2021 season. The one unfortunate thing for the Hornets though is they are currently ineligible for postseason tournaments due to a one-year ban because of APR violations.

The violations occurred under the previous administration. The school is appealing the decision.

But Skeerers said he won’t let that affect Delaware State’s attitude. The Hornets will still be aiming for a conference title, it will just have to come in the regular season.

“We’re still approaching every game as a national championship,” Skeeters said. “We’re always going to compete. We can still win the regular season championship and that’s our goal. If we win that, that’s worth hanging a banner. That’s the goal.”

Delaware State will have only two seniors next year as well in starting point guard Pinky Wiley and center Ameer Bennett. Starting forward Fahim Jennetto will be a junior and the backcourt will return shooting guard sophomore Omari Peek-Green, junior Myles Carter and sophomore Leroy Moore.

Trey Gross, Ronald Lucas and Chris Sodom each saw time off the bench in the Hornet froncourt this season.

The Hornets will also be boosted by the addition of Zach Kent. Kent, who played at Caesar Rodney High and St. Andrew’s School in high school, transferred from Tennessee and will be eligible next season.

Delaware State has two more guards coming in as recruits and an open spot for one more.

“We added a lot of depth and we still aren’t senior-heavy,” Skeeters said. “So for the next two years, we’re going to have some real talent.”

Two more players will be back next year in D’Marco Baccum and L.J. Stansbury. Both were slated to be in the starting lineup this year before injuries.

Baccum was hurt in September and used a medical redshirt to maintain his sophomore eligibility. Stansbury went down in mid-January and was also out for the year.

If those two were healthy the entire year, Skeeters thinks the 2019-2020 season could have gone differently.

“We got hit with the injury bug this year which is part of the game,” Skeeters said. “We lost two starters and that did hurt us. One in the second week of practice in September and another in our second league game. I think if you look what we had in August, and if we were able to keep that roster all year long then I would like our chances every night. Our record didn’t show the work and the commitment the guys put in. They never quit.”

Delaware State has won 13 games since Skeeters took over in 2018. That is an improvement compared to what the Hornets did in the year before Skeeters arrived when they only won three.

Skeeters thinks the Hornets are still on the right path to finish the rebuilding job.

“Usually there’s one or two reasons you take over a program at this level,” Skeeters said. “It’s either the guy before you won and moved on, or it’s a rebuild. We had a rebuild and we got our foundation here now which we can build on.”