The Delaware Blue Coats snapped their four game losing streak
defeating the Long Island Nets 111-88 Saturday. Entering this matchup, both
teams made changes to their teams. For the Blue Coats, head coach Connor
Johnson decided to switch up the starting line up. For the Nets, the
organization waived Henry Ellison, their leading scorer and key player so far
this season. However, most G League players are accustomed to the constant
changes in team dynamics. It’s the nature of the league.
So what was it that brought fans to their feet that
The battle of the big men.
John Egbunu and Christ Koumadje.
Before the game, the Delaware Blue Coats led the G League in
points per game. They displayed this offensive prowess after putting up 66
points in just the first half. The Blue Coats generated offense through their
aggressive and intense half court defense, along with full court pressure and a
dominating presence on the defensive glass. They emphasized pace and excelled in
transition. Even with only a glimpse of daylight, players let it fly, knocking
down tough contested shots. Their confidence resulted in most shots seeing the
bottom of the net.
In contrast, the Long Island Nets struggled to find
offensive rhythm the entire game. It was a TOUGH first half. They shot 16% from
beyond the arc, 3-19, and not a single player had double figures at the break.
Contested jump shots, forced layups, and missed three pointers resulted in a
recipe for disaster. Outscored 38-17 in the second quarter, the Nets ran into
the locker room down 35-66.
In spite of the blowout, Egbunu and Koumadje knew the show
And this was where the fun began.
John Egbunu, pretty quiet in the first half although leading
the team with eight points, began the third quarter with his own highlight
reel. A complete monster in the paint, he sent two Blue Coat shots flying back
to back, followed by a lob in transition in which he converted to an assertive
two-hand slam. Egbunu’s energy created a spark for the Nets. They crashed the
offensive glass hard, outrebounding the Blue Coats 17-7. Regardless of this
push, Delaware’s Christ Koumadje held it down for the Blue Coats. With his
length and size, it was evident he deterred many Nets players from entering the
paint, let alone feeling comfortable enough to finish in a regular fashion. Battling
with Egbunu, the two centers put on a demonstration of what it meant to be big,
strong, and athletic. They clashed under the basket in one on one moves and
fought for position during box outs. They even blocked each other’s shots. A
few times. Koumadje made Egbunu earn EVERY basket. And vice versa. Although
outscoring the Blue Coats 29-18 in the third quarter, the Nets still trailed by
16 at the end of it.
Even with the momentum, the Nets were unable to capitalize
during the fourth. They did not lack energy, or enthusiasm, or the desire to
Delaware just looked good. And played good.
They oozed conviction. Trusted one another. Played extremely
comfortable in the open court and shared the ball effortlessly. After opening the
fourth quarter with an 8-0 run, they never took their foot off the gas. Koumadje
finished with an outstanding triple double: 12 points, 16 rebounds, and 10
blocked shots. His rebounds and blocked shots were both career highs. Additionally,
Marial Shayok finished with a team high 22 points and six other players ended
in double figures. A collective team effort. For the Nets, Egbunu finished with
18 points and nine rebounds and Jaylen Hands chipped in 17 points.
Overall, it was a tough shooting night for the Nets, 33%
from the floor and 22% from the arc. But…the most significant statistic that
contributed to the result of this matchup was this: Both teams finished with 16
turnovers. The Blue Coats scored 34 points in comparison to the Nets 8 off of
the same amount of turnovers.
Really, really hard
to win that way.
Nonetheless, in the current time of basketball where guard
play is usually celebrated, Egbunu and Koumadje made a statement that big men
still got game.
The Long Island Nets return to action Sunday, January 5th at 3PM ET against the Wisconsin Herd.