Overlooked Delaware Fighting Blue Hens Want a Fight, While Head Coach Turns Comedic
As Michigan State begins a tradition as reliable as Old Faithful in Yellowstone the Delaware Fightin Blue Hens are embarking on another journey. They don’t put the Final Four on their yearly schedule. While the Spartans plan on it, the Blue Hens dream for it.
I got significant response from the readers yesterday when I declared the Spartans would win, but that Delaware was, “Dangerous.” Never one to back down from a critic, I still maintain they are dangerous and they aren’t going to just back down from the Spartans.
Senior Blue Hen guard Davon Usher was asked if the team’s reaction to hearing they were playing MSU was shock or intimidation. He was diplomatic, but not pleased. He said, “It’s never an “oh God” situation with us, because we prepare ourselves to play anyone. And we knew coming into the field of 64 that we were going to face a good team. Everyone in this tournament is good. Michigan State of course, is the Big 10 champions. We don’t really worry about the name on the other team’s jersey, we just play against them. Those guys lace up their sneakers just like we do and we’re going to put in all we got to have the outcome of winning.”
Junior guard Jarvis Threatt was asked if the Spartans even have a weakness. “We have a pretty dynamic team also, so as far as matching up, I have trust in any one of my guys to go up against any one of their players. It’s not a matchup that stands out to me that we’re going to say, hey, we’re going to pick on this guy or anything. I have faith in any one of my guys to go get a basket or get a stop on any play.”
Senior forward Carl Baptiste didn’t really like my question about MSU getting all the love and people over looking Delaware. He might not like it, but it is a fact. He told me, “We’re not scared of anybody. We’re ready to play. We have had a lot of success this season and we’re looking at this as just another challenge and we’re excited to get on the floor with them.”
The players definitely had a chip. They weren’t disrespectful of the Spartans, but they are on scholarship as well. The humorous angle was that their coach took an entirely different angle. It was so night and day that you could sense he had taken a play from Izzo.
Head coach Monte Ross had praise for the Spartans. He was asked about facing Izzo’s cagers and said, “I’ve not slept at all. There aren’t many chinks in their armor. Once they have gotten healthy, which they are right now, there are a lot of teams I would say are limping into the tournament, and you can name them. But Michigan State has gotten healthy at the right time, at the right time of year. And when they are healthy, they resemble much more so that No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country than they do when I was watching the Wisconsin game, I think, they had 22 beside their name. That must have been a typo for them to be called the 22nd best team in the country. But, in watching them, they just keep getting better and better. So, I think I’m just going to do myself a service and just stop watching them.”
Izzo harps on it each year that the Big Dance is about matchups, and he’s right. So how does Coach Ross think he can match up? “Well, the biggest matchup that we’re going to try to capitalize on, and I told my guys this, is Coach Izzo’s lack of tournament experience. I don’t think he’s really been in a lot of pressure cooker situations, so we’re going to try to lean on that. At least that’s what I told my team.”
The comedy continued by Ross who went on to add, “And then, the other thing is, in their Big 10 championship game they had to play against Michigan, which is obviously a rival and a very tough opponent, but in our championship game we had to play against William and Mary, so we had to play against two guys. So, we’re very prepared for this situation that’s coming up.”
Don’t take Ross lightly. He is a highly regarded coach and one to watch for sure moving up the ranks. You can’t ignore what may be the funniest quote of all time from an underdog coach. “I think that through NCAA rules we were allowed to or our players were allowed to participate in the Warren Buffett Billion Dollar Bracket. Shoot, I think some of them picked Michigan State, some of our players, so I don’t know.”
Make no mistake today that the Spartans should advance. No one is questioning that. They are facing a very good team with experience that is looking for a fight. I heard one player say that they are like Rocky just looking for a title shot.
If MSU wins they should. If Delaware does it is the biggest win in their history and it would be their de facto national title. That says a lot. So will their play.