Delaware Blue Coats bounce back with 106-94 victory over the College Park Skyhawks

Derek Culver gets ready to shoot a free throw. Culver helped the Blue Coats shut down Skyhawks' center Chris Silva on Saturday. - Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Delaware Blue Coats (3-3) got their revenge on the College Park Skyhawks (4-2) on Saturday, Nov. 25, riding an offensive explosion on their way to a 106-94 win.

Head Coach Mike Longabardi was proud of his team’s offense after the unit went cold in the second half on Wednesday, Nov. 22 against the Skyhawks.

“I’ve said this from day one, we want to reach our potential,” Longabardi said. “We have gotten better, but I still think we can get even better, and that’s going to be our focus going forward.”

Leading the way was David Duke Jr., who put on a show. Duke Jr. scored a game-high 27 points, shooting 9-14 from the field and 3-6 from three-point range.

His big night could’ve gone in the complete opposite direction, though as the 24-year-old found himself in serious foul trouble early in the game, collecting three in the first quarter. He still managed to play over eight minutes in the opening frame.

“I just trusted him,” Longabardi said. “I took him out, brought him back, and then I took him out at the end because I didn’t want him to pick up his fourth in the first half. So I trusted him, and he responded and played great.”

Defensively, the Coats made an adjustment on Skyhawks’ center Chris Silva, who scored just 10 points after exploding for 26 on Wednesday. A big reason for that was big man Derek Culver, who punished Silva in the paint whenever he touched the ball. His defensive performance earned him “Coat of the Game” from Longabardi, as well.

“Coach [Longabardi] just wanted to make it a big focus to push him out on his catches, so that if he catches the ball on the wing we could scoot him out of his comfort zone,” Culver said. “So that when he goes through his reads, he’s a little bit more on edge and conscious about the defense.”

“When a player’s that good, you have to do it collectively as a team, and we kept throwing bodies at him,” Longabardi added. “I felt good about DC [Derek Culver] in there versus him, and he obviously took the challenge. That was really, really good for him and for our team.”

Delaware entered the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead, a similar situation as Wednesday when they went into the halftime locker room up nine. While they weren’t able to finish the job just three days prior, the Blue Coats closed out the game convincingly on Saturday, winning the fourth quarter and securing a 12-point victory. 

The team knew they let one slip away on Wednesday, and made it a point to not let it happen again.

“Just playing better collectively,” Culver said. “As a whole, everyone was in sync, sharing the ball, everyone was trying to play hard for one another and play hard for coach [Longabardi]. That just took care of itself.”

The Blue Coats will now set their sights toward the Long Island Nets on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. at Chase Fieldhouse, and Culver feels confident heading into the matchup.

“For only being six games in, I feel like we’re further along than everybody expected us to be,” Culver said. “Everything is on the right path.”

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