Delaware Blue Coats drop matchup in the regular season

Louis King takes a jump shot. King made his debut against the Vipers. Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

The Delaware Blue Coats couldn’t get it done in their regular season opener on Tuesday, Dec. 27, falling to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 138-99 at Chase Fieldhouse.

Despite this being the regular season opener for the Coats, that was not the biggest storyline heading into the game. On Monday, Dec. 26, the Philadelphia 76ers signed the University of Oregon’s own Louis King to a two-way contract. Twenty-four hours later, King took the court with his newest teammates.

King played decently in his Coats debut, scoring ten points while adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. The problem was inefficiency, as King shot just 3-14 from the field and 0-7 from deep.

After the game, King spoke about how comfortable he felt in his first game donning the blue and white.

“I was feeling great,” King said. “I didn’t get the chance to start, because coach [Head Coach Coby Karl] wanted me to learn the plays and my teammates a little bit, but I felt great. It was the first game, we’re going to bounce back.”

An important factor in King’s signing is the fact that he’s close to home. King grew up in Jersey City, and now he gets to play near his hometown and close to his family and friends. 

“It feels amazing, it’s a dream come true,” King said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since day one, to play close to my hometown, having family come out to see me play. It feels amazing, I’m grateful for this opportunity.”

Despite the large margin in the final score, that was not the case throughout the entirety of the game. In the first quarter, the Blue Coats came out competitively, taking a 28-25 lead at the end of the period. However, the second quarter was when things began to blow open.

The Coats and Vipers continued to trade punches to kick off the second quarter. Then, a switch flipped for the Vipers. They proceeded to go on a 26-0 run, bumping up their lead to 62-38 and eventually 76-50 at halftime.

Reigning G-League Rookie of the Year Mac McClung, who was recently featured on “The Break” by the G-League, spoke about the defense’s collapse in the second.

“To be honest, a lot of things happened,” McClung said. “We need to figure some things out together. We have a lot of new pieces coming in and out, so just trying to mesh together and play the right way… Our transition defense isn’t good because we’re taking tough shots.”

The explosive run which essentially put the game out of reach was largely fueled by long-range success. The Vipers shot 11-16 from beyond the arc in the second quarter, led by the 6’0” guard from Northwest Missouri State, Trevor Hudgins.

After scoring five points in the first, Hudgins scored 23 points on 7-9 shooting from deep. Hudgins exhibited a Steph Curry-like confidence by turning and looking at the Vipers’ bench before his shot went in the hoop on multiple occasions. 

“He played great, man,” McClung said in reference to Hudgins. “He was hot and he was shooting the ball well. I was super impressed with him, he did a great job.”

King backed up McClung’s statement, while also noting that when a guy is hot like that, it is extremely difficult to contain.

“Trevor [Hudgins], when he gets going, he gets going,” King said. “That didn’t stop us from what our game plan was and what we had to do to execute. We have some stuff to clean up, but we have a lot of games this season. We’re gonna bounce back.”

Offensively, the Coats’ three-ball was the complete opposite of the Vipers, shooting just 10% from three in the game. McClung spoke about how important it is to fix that element of the offense moving forward.

“It’s big, but that happens,” McClung said. “You need to figure out how to win when you’re not making shots. It’s just one of those games, tonight it wasn’t falling.”

With the Vipers taking a 26-point lead into halftime and ultimately walking away with a 39-point victory, this game was not competitive past the early stages of the second quarter. However, the good news for the Blue Coats is that this was just the beginning of the regular season. They have plenty of time to make adjustments and turn things around.

“We’re a new group of guys, we all need to get familiar with each other,” King said. “It takes time, but as we bond throughout the season, get to know each other on and off the court, I think it’s gonna click immediately.”

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