Delaware State hasn’t been on the most winning side of history as of late. Coach Eric Skeeters in his second season picked up a program that hasn’t seen an NCAA Tournament bid in over 15 years.
Even when walking into the job, he had little time to prepare. He was hired in July 2018, weeks before the season started.
Despite the losses, and losing leading scorer Kevin Larkin to graduation, the Hornets did not lose their sting this year — even though it took until January to get their first win against a D1 opponent.
Let’s say just that the Hornets made a splash for their first D1 win.
How did they do it? They defeated the three-time defending MEAC champs, North Carolina Central, snapping a six-game losing streak to the Eagles.
It wasn’t a normal game either. The Hornets were down 16 points during the first half. But the Hornets held the Eagles to 22 second-half points. They stormed back, scoring 39 points in the second half.
Skeeters isn’t new to major victories. He was an assistant coach for the 1996-97 Coppin State team that upset South Carolina for the second victory by a 15-seed over a 2-seed in NCAA Tournament history. He also served as an assistant under head coach Ryan Odom at UMBC from 2016-to-2018 — you know, that UMBC team that shocked the nation and beat number one-overall seed Virginia.
When hired, he mentioned creating something special. The pieces aren’t together yet but the comeback against the defending MEAC champs is a sign of what can bloom out of Dover, Delaware.
“Delaware State University is a unique opportunity and I look forward to putting together a staff and team that will enable us to create something special,” Skeeters said. “As a MEAC grad, my goal from day one will be to recruit, coach and develop champions on the court, in the classroom and in the community.”
Oh right, let’s talk about the special player who capped off this moment: John Crosby.
The senior guard transferred from Dayton and sat out last season due to NCAA rules. Previously, he played three years with the Flyers but didn’t break into the spotlight.
Now the MEAC’s leading scorer, the senior had his moment in the spotlight with five seconds to go against NC Central. He rushed down the court and threw up a running jumper as time expired.
The shot went in, the win was secured and Delaware State made a statement.
“I felt good coming down the court and hoping there would be enough time to get a shot off,” Crosby said.
It may seem like a minor moment, but this was a significant win for Skeeters and the Hornets. Yes, he defeated in-state rival in Delaware last season, but pulling a comeback against Coach LeVelle Moton rarely happens — especially against conference opponents.
“It’s great to get this win because we’ve been working really hard and falling short this season,” Skeeters said. “Hopefully, this win will give us some momentum as we go forward. The MEAC season is still early and there’s a long way to go.”