CAA Women's Basketball

"Good To Elite" Is Delaware's Destination in 2021-22

"Good To Elite" Is Delaware's Destination in 2021-22

By various standards, the Blue Hens excelled a season ago. They won the CAA regular-season championship and totaled 25 wins.

Oct 29, 2021 by Kyle Kensing
"Good To Elite" Is Delaware's Destination in 2021-22

Fueled by the way in which the 2020-21 season ended, the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens head into 2021-22 with a purpose. 

Just consider how Delaware star Jasmine Dickey described the team’s offseason. 

“We’re always in the gym, we’re always working hard in practice, we’re competing,” she said. “Putting forth that extra level of effort I think is going to get us farther this year than last.” 

By various standards, the Blue Hens excelled a season ago. They won the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship and their 25 total wins were the program’s most since the Elena Delle Donne-led Sweet 16 team of 2012-13. 

But a loss to Drexel in the CAA Tournament championship denied Delaware its first trip back to the NCAA Tournament since reaching the second weekend in 2013. After impressive wins against Fordham, Clemson and Villanova in the WNIT, the Blue Hens lost to Rice in the tournament semifinals. 

The sting of falling just short on postseason goals in what was an otherwise excellent season is hardly reason to hit the panic button. The Blue Hens embark on this campaign not rebuilding, nor redefining. 

“We don’t have to do anything different, we just have to continue to grow and evolve,” said coach Natasha Adair at CAA media day. “We don’t have to go into the locker room and talk about energy, effort. We don’t have to talk about our culture. 

“The foundations of our program have already been laid,” she added. “We just have to go from good to elite.” 

Delaware has the players to be an elite team, up and down the roster. The Blue Hens could be one of the deepest squads in all of college basketball, returning proven standouts Tyi Skinner, Ty Battle and Lizzy O’Leary. 

They also welcome Maddie Sims and Makayla Pippin, transfers from UMass and Kansas State. 

“They get it, they’ve played at a very high level,” Adair said of the newcomers. “I’m really excited to see what they’re going to bring.” 

Sims gives Delaware a post presence who can add to the Blue Hens’ dominance on the glass and add another defensive dimension. She averaged 1.3 blocked shots per game in 2020-21. 

Adair said every member of the Blue Hens roster makes “deposits,” contributing something that could make this a special season. But when it comes to being an “elite” team, building around an elite player helps. 

And Jasmine Dickey is elite. 

The reigning CAA Player of the Year averaged 22.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in 2020-21. Dickey is tabbed to repeat as the Colonial’s premier play, and may well be poised to go down alongside Delle Donne as one of the program’s greatest ever. 

Dickey’s on the preseason watch list for the Cheryl Miller Award, but she exudes an attitude of grit that belies her stardom. 

“Making sure I’m putting forth my best effort along with what coach is doing, what the team is doing,” Dickey said of her approach in 2021-22. “We’ve had some accomplishments, but it’s time to build on that.”