Delaware Blue Coats start the regular season off with a win

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Ricky Council IV steps to the free throw line. Council recorded 23 points in the regular season opener. - Friday, Dec. 15, 2023. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Delaware Blue Coats (1-0) defeated the Capital City Go-Go (0-1) by a final score of 134-126 on Wednesday, Dec. 27 at Chase Fieldhouse. After going 9-7 in Showcase Cup play, the Blue Coats got the regular season started on the right foot.

A big reason for that was the stellar play of newly-acquired Kenneth Lofton Jr. After signing a two-way contract with the 76ers on Dec. 23, the reigning G League Rookie of the Year made a strong first impression with his new organization, scoring 30 points on 9-15 shooting and 3-7 from three-point range against the Go-Go.

“He’s an extremely talented player, very high IQ,” Head Coach Mike Longabardi said. “We’re extremely happy to have him. For the first game, I expected it to be a little messy. I thought that he exceeded all of our expectations.”

Although Lofton Jr. showcased some of his shooting chops with those three long-range bombs, the 21-year-old made a living inside the paint, routinely bullying anybody that Capital City tried to throw his way while bulldozing his way to the rim and converting tough buckets.

“He is extremely talented, extremely gifted,” Longabardi said. “He knows how to use angles, knows how to use his body, and he’s got a great touch. We’re gonna have to use that to our advantage.”

Lofton Jr. wasn’t the only newcomer to make an impact though, as Darius Bazley contributed 18 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks in his seventh game with the Blue Coats. Bazley was acquired in a trade with the Wisconsin Herd on Dec. 8 in exchange for a 2024 first-round pick and made a big impact in the stretch run of the Showcase Cup, averaging 29.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, and three blocks per game.

“I was really pleased with his defense and him contesting shots,” Longabardi said. “He had some big blocks for us, and that kind of got us going so that was big-time for him.”

Overall, the offensive output for the Blue Coats was outstanding. Delaware shot 54.8% from the field and 42.1% from behind the arc while also having the 20-6 edge in fast break points.

According to Ricky Council IV, who scored 23 points on 8-14 shooting, the Blue Coats were able to display the type of offense that Longabardi preaches.

“That’s the emphasis of Coach [Longo],” Council IV said. “He wants paint shots, catch-and-shoot threes, and getting to the free throw line. The addition of Kenny [Lofton Jr.] just made everything easier tonight.”

Council IV had more to say about Lofton Jr., whom he believes can take the team to an elevated level and help them rise to the G League standings.

“It’s gonna help a lot,” Council IV said, referencing the toughness of Lofton Jr. “We were already dangerous on the outside; adding Bazley added a little bit more on the inside, but having Kenny adds even more… We were really guard heavy, a lot of our points came from our guards with no real inside presence… I think we’re a really complete team now.”

The Blue Coats will now set their sights on a matchup with the Rip City Remix on Saturday, Dec. 30 at Chiles Center. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m.

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