"It's All About The Game"
Best Blue Hen leads coop to 'chip
Ron Bailey, Publisher
Della Donne continues dominance.
March 21, 2013 - The Delaware Blue Hens held on to squeak by Drexel’s Dragons 59-56 in the Colonial Athletic Association women’s final on Sunday. In the end, the difference was largely one Blue Hen. A very special one.
“At 6’5”, she has as good guard skills as anybody out there. So yeah, I think she worked for her points” said Drexel head coach Denise Dillon on attempting to stop or at least hinder Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, one of the most productive players in America. “And with the exception of one transition play where she was trailing the play, caught it and shot for three uncontested, she worked for her points and there was really very little you can do, her shooting over us”
Delle Donna used her length to great success.
Drexel’s attempt to corral her took many forms, including an interesting 2-3 matchup zone alignment which included a back line that hugged the free throw stripe. The scheme was predicated on Delaware’s desire to initiate offense in the high post – many times through Delaware’s best player, as well as “find Delle Donne; wherever she is, we have to tag her. So it moves the matchup a little bit more up the line, than you would some teams who would just have dribble penetration”.
Offensively the Dragons relied heavily on a drive and kick scheme, where three pointers were sank, helping Drexel erase a 17 point deficit five and half minutes into the second half. Illustrating it usage were the 25 Drexel long ball attempts, and by comparison Delaware’s nine. Senior forward Taylor Wootten led the way with 21 points, while classmate and guard Hollie Mershon logged 18 points, five rebounds and nine assists; it was she that drove, many times off screens before finding teammates for shots.
“Well, we shoot a lot of threes consistently throughout the season” said Dillon about her team’s penchant for long distance shooting Sunday. “It’s not a live or die situation, but the way Delaware plays, they take up a lot of space, they don’t overplay the three point line, so it would probably be open.
“With the way Taylor (Wootten), number 20 plays, she’s able
to shoot the ball from anywhere. So it opened up a little bit for her.”
After only leading three at halftime, Delle Donne went to work in the third quarter, including one coast to coast flourish where she snagged a rebound, pushed the ball and scored. For the contest, she dropped 28 points, grabbed five caroms, as well as completed eight of nine attempted free throws.
In terms of team numbers, the Blue Hens sank 40.4% of their field goals, scored on four of nine three balls and 85% of their charity stripe chances.
Having transferred back home from UConn in 2008, Delle Donne’s impact has been widespread; the team is ranked 15th/16th nationally, has now won back to back CAA titles, been to three conference championship games in as many years and helped set Drexel back three times this season.
“Elena has done a great thing for Delaware and the CAA. But again to get back to our team…” Dillon remarked before pausing, fighting back tears. “Our seniors, they worked. They deserved it. They’ve given every bit of effort”.
The Dragons’ season continues, with a WNIT bid at hand. Drexel hosts Iona on Thursday the 21st, at 7p.
Delaware (30-3), who also received double figure scoring from senior guard Trumae Lucus (12 points) as well as senior backcourt mate Lauren Carra’s game leading 10 rebounds and a Delaware best six assists, is of course headed to the NCAA tourney, with a Sunday matchup with West Virginia set for 12:15p. The Blue Hens have the advantage of hosting that game, and if victorious, facing either North Carolina or Albany on Tuesday.
Click here for game photos, posted on FaceBook.com/RonBailey19
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