The Delaware Blue Coats are back to .500 at 4-4 as they defeat the Westchester Knicks 110-93 last night. The Blue Coats entered the game coming off a loss to the Wisconsin Herd last weekend. With plenty of time to develop their strategy for this game, they were down three of their star players, Zhaire Smith, Marial Shayok, and Norvel Pelle due to callups and NBA assignments with the Philadelphia 76ers. Pelle even made his NBA debut with 4 blocked shots and 2 rebounds against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden last night. Even with the callups, the Blue Coats had a terrific opportunity to earn a win against a struggling divisional rival, the Westchester Knicks, who finally earned their second win of the season after going through a 6-game losing streak.
Before the game, Blue Coats Head Coach, Connor Johnson said that he wanted his team to remain dominant against the low scoring Knicks. “We want to get out and guard,” Johnson remarked. Be physical and be aggressive in the way that we want. Set the tone at the pace we want to play.”
Johnson and the Coats stuck to their gameplan, as they grew more dominant and aggressive through every play. They became more physical and even more focused, as they crept their way up to 29 point game high lead in the last few minutes of the game. The Blue Coats outworked the Knicks by using their physicality and their speed to generate scoring chances.
Much like his team, Coach Johnson also remained physical and aggressive throughout the game. Johnson was active and communicated with his team through almost every single possession, unlike Knicks Head Coach, Derrick Alston, who seemed oddly passive and reserved.
Defensively, the Blue Coats used their size to limit the Knicks’ scoring chances. Blue Coats Forwards Doral Moore and Christ Koumadje played a tremendous and balanced game, especially when using their large stature to transition from defense into offense. The 7’-1” Moore had 12 rebounds and scored 12 points, while the 7’-4” Koumadje who just returned from injury made 11 rebounds and scored 8 points. “We have a size advantage with [Moore} and an incredible size advantage with Christ,” said Coach Johnson postgame. “Jonah Bolden is also a big and strong floor man. So you put those three guys out there, and they play a lot of minutes, that helps us…we want to play fast, but we want to use our size to our advantage.” That size advantage for the Blue Coats limited the Knicks to 10-36 beyond the arc and 33-87 on field goal attempts. The Knicks’ top scorer of the game, Amir Hinton only scored 15 points. This is the first game of the season in which the Blue Coats held their opponent to under 100 points.
Outside of aggression, physical play, and active coaching, where the Blue Coats shined was in their execution and consistency of long passes. They created opportunities by using their passing game to their advantage, and dictated the pace of the game because of it.
Blue Coats Guard, Xavier Munford emerged as the top scorer of the game with 21 points, 17 of which were in the second half. “I just try to speed up the pace,” commented Munford. “My main focus on the offensive end is to play fast and kick the ball ahead to find guys…we want to make the right play every time.”
Shake Milton, who rehabbed well from an injury, was recovering from an illness which caused him some respiratory problems. Yet he played a terrific game especially on the offensive side of the ball. In only 19 minutes of playtime, Milton earned 18 pts, and was 2 for 3 beyond the arc. Milton also made 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Although this was a low scoring game by the Blue Coats’ standards, they played a terrific team game, and came out strong on the defensive side of the ball. The Blue Coats will be on the road as they travel to Lakeland, Florida, for Sunday afternoon’s matchup against the Magic. The Lakeland Magic are 5-3 and are coming off a bad loss to the Austin Spurs.