The Washington Times - September 16, 2008, 05:23PM

Time to swing back to basketball for a couple entries while waiting out football practice.

First up today is Delaware State, a perennially pesky team with a somnolent style.


Which is a nice way of saying the Hornets are well-coached, generally maximize their talent and are often completely unwatchable for people who want to see scores in the high 70s and beyond.

But that’s OK, because it makes Delaware State a tough matchup —- a fact Maryland might want to keep in mind given its place on the Hornets’ schedule.

So here’s a rundown of a team that usually finds its way into contention in the MEAC.

They’ll miss: Virtually nothing. Just about every major contributor returns to Dover this season.

They’re adding: Some continuity, thanks to all those guys coming back —- senior guard Roy Bright, who started his career at Cincinnati and averaged 19.3 points last year, chief among them.

Home/road/neutral schedule split: 11/16/3

Best team visiting Dover: Probably defending MEAC regular-season champ Morgan State, which will bus up from Baltimore on Feb. 2

Best home game subplot: This almost has to be Morgan State. Todd Bozeman‘s Bears dealt the Hornets three losses last season, the last coming in the MEAC tournament. It was the first time Delaware State lost to a team three times in a season since 1997-98 (Florida A&M).

Funny seeing you here:  There are no surprises here —- nothing but conference games and a couple of non-Division I opponents.

Best road venue: Delaware State is one of pieces of foddering being invited to Rupp Arena this season. The Nov. 22 game could be reasonably close, given the Hornets’ plodding style of play.

Best showcase: The Hornets get two games in the desert as part of the Las Vegas Invitational. Granted, there aren’t big-name opponents, but it doesn’t hurt to be part of an event that features some quality teams.

Best opponent: The Hornets make their way to Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 1 to meet Connecticut —- a team that, with a healthy A.J. Price, must be considered a Final Four contender

New to the schedule: The entire nonconference schedule. The Hornets will pay the bills this season by visiting (among others) Kentucky, West Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Notre Dame and Rutgers

Pivotal stretch: It’s all about being ready for the conference tournament in a one-bid league. And since Delaware State plays its final four on the road before the postseason, picking up two or three games in that stretch would probably have them feeling good with a trip to Winston-Salem and the MEAC tournament arriving right afterward.

—- Patrick Stevens