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NCAA Basketball CAA Basketball

Part I: A Look Inside Delaware Basketball with Assistant Coach Phil Martelli, Jr.

Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

I was fortunate enough to meet some pretty great people throughout my six-year career as a college baseball coach. I’ve since moved on but have maintained relationships with a lot of them. One such person is Phil Martelli, Jr., the son of future hall-of-fame coach Phil Martelli of St. Joseph’s fame.

Phil was a coach at Manhattan College while I coached baseball there and as coaches we often did what coaches do–talked sports. Over the years, we’ve kept in touch despite his brief one-year stint in Riverdale–he soon departed for MAAC-foe Niagara. Following a five-year tenure at Niagara, Martelli moved on to the greener pastures of the Colonial Athletic Association. Next stop–the University of Delaware.

Martelli is entering his second year on head coach Monte Ross‘ staff and has already experienced success in Newark. Last year, he helped lead the Blue Hens to their first postseason appearance since 2001 with a trip to the College Basketball Invitational. Though UD lost to Butler, the fact that they got back to the postseason speaks volumes as to where this program is headed.

I recently reached out for an email interview and he was more than happy to oblige.

Ryan Darcy (RD)I know this is only your second year at UD since coming over from Niagara, but as far as recruiting, what’s the mold of a player you want at UD?

Phil Martelli, Jr. (PMJ): We obviously want talented guys but we spend a lot of time making sure we are getting good people as well.  UD is the type of place that wants to see a program built the right way and not just have great success one year then embarrassment the next because of trouble off the court.  We put a ton of stock into the character of each guy we are recruiting.  The other factors we look for all play into that overall character.  We look at work ethic, passion for the game, and the ability to be a  good teammate (which is an underrated trait) among other things.  This has led to us having a wonderful group of guys that enjoy being around each other and they are a joy to coach every day.

RD: What’s the one thing the coaching staff at UD preaches day in, day out?

PMJ: We always talk about “what can we do to get better today”.  We feel that if we are a little better today than we were yesterday the results will follow.  Within that, we talk about conquering the mundane tasks.  The people in life and the teams in this case that try to perfect the most minute and mundane tasks are the ones that end up being successful.  This has been the mantra of the program for the last 2 years and it was the biggest factor in us winning 9 in a row in February last year.  Hopefully, it leads to similar type of success for us this year.

RD: With Northeastern’s loss to Georgia State, is the CAA really as wide open as it seems?

PMJ: I think Northeastern losing to Georgia State continues to show the depth of this league.  On any given night, any team can be beat any other team in this league.  The CAA was wide open when they picked the preseason polls in the fall and will remain a wide open league until March 11th (the night of the CAA Championship).  There are talented teams from top to bottom so you better not take a night off or you will find yourself on the losing end.  The other reason the league is so open is that there are only 7 teams competing in the conference tournament.  When you look at the 7 (Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Hofstra, James Madison, Northeastern, William & Mary), you could make a case on why each of those teams could win it and why each of those teams could lose it.  It will all rely on who is playing the best coming in, how the varying styles match up and who maximizes their efforts from March 9th-11th in Richmond.

To Be Continued…