The Delaware Blue Coats (0-1) got to shine in all their glory to begin the season, as Jared Brownridge, Patrick McCaw, Aminu Mohammed, Derek Culver, and former Blue Coats (now Westchester Knicks (1-0)) guard Charlie Brown Jr. were honored pregame, during the team’s 2022-23 championship celebration ceremony.
Unfortunately for the Blue Coats, everything went downhill after that point, as they dropped the season-opener to the Knicks by a score of 135-103.
The Blue Coats were let down by their defense. They had trouble guarding Duane Washington Jr., allowing him to score 21 first-half points. They were able to slow him down in the second half, as he finished with 26 points in total.
That, however, opened up the floor for Brandon Goodwin, who had 23 points in the second half and hit five three-pointers, tying the game-high. He really made his presence known in the third, where he scored 18 of the team’s 39 third-quarter points to blow the game open for the Knicks.
“I think we did not guard anybody, and we struggled on offense,” head coach Mike Longabardi said. “It was a snowball effect and just kept moving forward.”
The star of the show for the Blue Coats was rookie guard Terquavion Smith, who came off the bench. He had 37 points, which was a career-high for him, even dating back to college, and was tied with Goodwin in three-pointers made with five. Even though Smith came off the bench, he was second on the team in minutes.
“Coming off the bench, I am thinking about how I can affect the game outside of offense,” Smith said. “Honestly, I did not know I was going to score like that. I just wanted to help the team in as many ways as possible. Coming off the bench, you need to be a good energy guy.”
Despite this great scoring night from Smith, Longabardi would like to see more from his sixth man on the defensive side of the ball.
“Smith was super aggressive,” Longabardi said. “That is really great for us, we gotta build off that. Defensively he had some miscues. We gotta work on that.”
Ricky Council IV was second on the team in scoring with 19 points. He relied heavily on his elite athleticism throughout the game, making a few highlight dunks to get the crowd going. The Knicks, however, seemingly always had an answer to silence the crowd once again. This was both Council and Smith’s first G League game, and Smith did notice a difference between college and the pros.
“It is more up and down at this level. A lot more physical at this level,” Smith said.
With only four returning players from the championship team, Longabardi knows some chemistry issues need to be worked out, especially because they are the defending champions.
“Some of us have been here for three weeks, a week and a half, and some of us two,” Longabardi said. “Each day we just gotta build. Teams are gonna come after us because we are the defending champs. We got a mark on our back, and we really gotta be ready for that.”