A few hundred fans turned out to give the Blue Hens a rousing farewell as they boarded the bus this afternoon bound for Connecticut.
Fans chanted and cheered, took pictures and waved as members of the University of Delaware women’s basketball team left the Bob Carpenter Center and started their journey to the Sweet 16.
Hens head coach Tina Martin gave the team a rare day off on Wednesday, giving them a chance to bask in the glory of a historic win over North Carolina Tuesday night. “We obviously enjoyed the win for a day,” said Hens star senior Elena Delle Donne. “No film, no nothing, just enjoy it, but today it’s back to focusing, back to Kentucky stuff, just getting ready for that next game.”
After the day off, Martin is prepping her players for a Kentucky team she says will be the toughest opponent Delaware’s played all year. “I think it will help them to get on that bus and it will be just the team and once we have everybody back together again because, we did have that day off, it will really refocus their energy as well as their basketball IQ’s towards this big game coming up with Kentucky.”
It was a bittersweet departure from their home floor in Newark, where the Hens were able to feed off a rabid home crowd during the first two games of the NCAA tournament. Martin said the energy from the crowd on Tuesday night spurred the team forward. “Blue Hen Nation as I call them have been absolutely incredible. This is something our kids will remember for a lifetime.” Delaware fans have been known to travel in strong numbers to support their team, but the atmosphere for Saturday’s noon tipoff against Kentucky will be a stark contrast to the Bob.
Now that the team is on the bus, for Martin, the time to drink in the experience is over. It’s time to work. “When we’re on the basketball court, it’s all business and intensity.”