By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Last year wasn't easy for Courtni Green.
The Millbrook graduate and current Delaware sophomore spent most of the season riding the bench, but this season it's beginning to pay off for the shooting guard.
"It was definitely tough, but at the end of the day it was a learning experience," said Green after the Blue Hens lost to James Madison on Sunday. "I'm glad I was able to go through it, because being able to watch you're also able to learn."
This season Green has started 11 of the Blue Hens' 14 contests. She is averaging 8.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Delaware coach Tina Martin said she's very pleased with Green's progression this season.
"She's an outstanding player, and I think she brings a lot to our team," Martin said. "I think Courtni will be a leader for us before this is all said and done."
Last season the Blue Hens had a large nucleus of seniors, led by current WNBA star Elena Delle Donne. That made a tough transition to the college level, even harder for Green and her younger teammates.
Green averaged 2.4 points and played in 25 games for Delaware last season. Green said last year's seniors helped her a lot, and she learned a lot from them.
"In practice they were physical and tough and we had to defend them," Green said. "I think that has helped this year a little bit."
The Blue Hens went 32-4 last year, and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Green said playing in the tournament was something she won't forget.
"It was a good experience, not everybody can say they went to the tournament," Green said. "So, just being a part of that was a blessing."
This season the Blue Hens have a very young squad with a combined 10 freshmen and sophomores on the 13-player roster.
Delaware is 10-4 overall, including 2-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Green said she worked hard on her shot in the offseason and it's showed, especially her 3-point shot. Green is shooting 39.4 percent (29-for-66) from beyond the arc.
In high school Green could do it all for the Pioneers, whether it was attacking the basket, hitting the 3-pointer or simply setting up her teammates for easy baskets. Martin said Green is capable of doing all those things at a high level in college.
"Courtni's working on her dribble drive and her penetration to not only score but to dish," Martin said. "I'd like her to be more aggressive. She's going to be a really good player for us. She can shoot the ball really well."
Green said playing at the Division I level is an adjustment, but she's ready to meet that challenge.
"If you want to play at this level you'll learn to adjust, and you'll work on your game to adjust to this level," Green said.
Green has scored 15 points twice this season, and had five 3-pointers in a 72-58 win over Monmouth on Nov. 19.
Martin compared Green to JMU shooting guard Kirby Burkholder, who has developed into one of the best players in the CAA.
"The next step for her game -- she's got to be able to get the dribble drive, read the defense, and get to the rim and draw fouls and score and dish off as well," Martin said. "Courtni's game is just starting to develop, and how hard she works over the next year or two years will determine a lot, but I'm really glad she's on our side."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org