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Notre Dame Basketball: Delaware Game Preview

Mike Brey makes his first trip back to the site of his first head coaching job

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Brey will take his No. 9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish squad to the University of Delaware Blue Hens’ home floor for the first time on Saturday, but it’s a familiar place for the Irish head coach. Brey spent the first five years of his head coaching career at Delaware (1995-2000), leading the Blue Hens to a 99-52 record and two NCAA tournament appearances during that span. Current Delaware head coach Martin Ingelsby was a senior at Notre Dame when Brey took over in 2000, and they led the Irish to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 10 years. Ingelsby then served as an assistant on Brey’s staff for 13 years before taking the Delaware job. The matchup on Saturday finds both teams trying to break out of a slump. Delaware has lost three straight games, and Notre Dame has lost two of its last three.

Quick Facts:

  • #BreysChase: Mike Brey is five wins away from becoming the all-time coaching wins leader at Notre Dame.
  • This is only the second time the two schools have met, with Note Dame winning the first 80-75 at home in 2013.
  • This is also the second time Mike Brey will face a former assistant as a head coach. The first time was against Lewis Preston and Kennesaw State in 2012, when the Irish won 85-57.
  • Delaware has never defeated a ranked opponent in school history.
  • Ninth-ranked Notre Dame is just the fourth top-10 opponent to ever visit Delaware, and the highest ranked team ever hosted at Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center.
  • Matt Farrell and Blue Hens redshirt junior Eric Carter played AAU ball together in New Jersey, check out the pic of young Matty:

Where: Bob Carpenter Center, Newark, DE

When: Saturday, December 9, 2017, 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: National television broadcast on CBS Sports Network with Dave Ryan, Steve Wolf and Tina Cervasio.

Notre Dame Basketball Radio Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland. Available on WatchND.tv, via network affiliates and Sirius 132, XM 193 and SiriusXM online 955.

Delaware Blue Hens (4-5)

NCAA Basketball: Delaware at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Hens are only four years removed from being the best team in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2013-14, but they’ve struggled to get back on top since then. Last year, Ingelsby’s first as head coach, Delaware went 13-20, which was a big improvement over a 7-23 season the year before that.

Delaware is led by sophomore guard Ryan Daly, who is averaging 17 points and five rebounds per game and is the only Blue Hen to start in all nine games. Freshman guard Ryan Allen has been a stand out as well, coming off the bench in most games to average 12.3 points while leading the team in three point percentage and free throw percentage. Delaware’s only senior to see significant playing time is point guard Anthony Mosley, who averages 11.3 points and leads the team in assists and steals.

The Blue Hens’ weaknesses really stand out when looking at the stat sheet for this season. They do not shoot the ball well from behind the arc, with Allen’s team-leading percentage of 36.7. As a whole, Delaware shoots 32.2 percent from range while allowing its opponents to shoot 40.9 percent. From the free throw line, Delaware is shooting just 66.8 percent. They also seem to have a lack of continuity, with nine different players who have started in games this year. Some of that might be due to injuries, or Ingelsby might be making adjustments based on his opponents, but wither way that makes it hard for everyone to understand their role.

Delaware does have one statistical advantage over Notre Dame, however, averaging slightly more rebounds per game. This has been emerging as one of the main problems for the Irish during their recent slide.

Blue Hen to Watch:

Ryan Daly, G, Sophomore

Daly has been a star at Delaware from the beginning. He averaged 16 points and 7.4 rebounds as a freshman to lead the Blue Hens in both categories and was named the CAA Rookie of the Year. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he is a big guard who obviously rebounds very well at the position. He also shoots the ball a ton. He’s taken the most three’s on the team, though he only shoots 34.7 percent. Daly has also attempted the most field goals by a mile. In fact, only two other players on the team have attempted as many field goals as Daly has made. The Irish will definitely have to focus on limiting Daly. Do college teams still run the box-and-one? It might be needed here.

Irish X-Factor:

T.J. Gibbs, G, Sophomore

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Gibbs has been rather quiet for the Irish over the last three games, averaging 9.6 points on 37.5 percent shooting. During that stretch the Irish are averaging 70.3 points per game. Gibbs had been second on the team in scoring but has now fallen behind Matt Farrell. The Irish clearly play much better when Gibbs is scoring effectively, and he’s going to have to get back into the groove soon with conference play approaching.

Prediction:

Notre Dame 84 - Delaware 65

I’m hoping Brey has hyped the guys up for this one. Notre Dame is much better than how they’ve been playing recently, and they need a convincing win in their last road game before ACC play begins. The Ball State loss doesn’t have me too concerned because that team has a legitimate shot of making it to the big dance. But to be Delaware’s first ever win against a ranked opponent would be shocking. The Irish should have no problems keeping the Blue Hens cooped up.