Most people ring in the new year by entertaining friends and family, or watching an endless stream of college football Bowl games on television.
Not Lucy Del Deo. Instead of spending some quality time on a warm couch in front of a big screen TV, the Bronx Science sophomore forward chose to hone her basketball skills and work on her blossoming hook shot.
But she didn’t do it in the comfort of Bronx Science’s cozy gym. Oh no, she instead chose to brave the frigid January elements by working on an outdoor court.
Hey, it’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.
“It was like 30 degrees outside,” Wolverines’ teammate Carolina Lopez said with a laugh. “And she was practicing her hook shot.”
No one questions Del Deo’s work habits anymore as she unveiled her new-look hook in a first-round game of the Public School Athletic League playoffs last week. And the results were brilliant. Del Deo finished with 18 points along with 10 rebounds for a double-double as the Wolverines posted a come-from-behind 56-42 victory over Hunter.
“I’ve been working on that shot since Christmastime, and it’s only started coming together,” Del Deo said. “But I’m really excited to use it.”
Hunter wishes she hadn’t as Del Deo was a force in the paint all game. The Hawks actually jumped out to a surprising 20-11 lead early in the second quarter forcing Bronx Science head coach Michael Mei to call a timeout to regroup. The Wolverines immediately responded with a 14-point run that put them up 25-20, helped by six points from Del Deo. Lopez did the rest of the damage by pouring in eight points in the spurt as Bronx Science seemed to have righted its shaky ship.
But Hunter wasn’t ready to go away just yet. The Hawks trailed just 25-24 at the half, and were behind only 38-34 after three quarters. But then Del Deo opened the fourth with a hook shot basket for a 40-34 lead, and quickly added two more field goals over the next 48 seconds and the Wolverines’ lead was 44-34 with 6:01 to play.
Lopez added five of her game-high 22 points later in the final period, and Sarang West chipped in five in the final two minutes. And with that, Bronx Science had secured the win and was off to the second round of the playoffs.
“Lucy’s been coming on huge as of late,” Mei said of Del Deo. “She comes in at 7:30 every morning and looks for some extra shots (before class). The girl comes to work. She comes from a basketball family. Her mom played at Princeton. But she is going to be critical for us” in the postseason.
Typically, the Wolverine offense runs through both Lopez and West. But the emergence of Del Deo gives Bronx Science a look many opponents have not seen from them this season.
“Having Lucy down there and being a presence and giving a team a different look, that’s a game changer,” Mei said. “If she can continue to work and improve, we might surprise some people.”
Bronx Science will deal with a couple surprises as it prepares for its second-round game on Feb. 28 — who it will play and where it will practice.
“I’m befuddled by the fact that (the PSAL) has us going against Mott Haven,” Mei said. “They put number one (Mott Haven) and two (Science) in the borough in the second round together. But listen, I think we can hang with the best teams in the city, and this time of year all you need is a chance. All you need is an opportunity.”
Another hurdle the Wolverines will have to clear is finding practice space as their home gym will undergo renovations.
“New windows this time,” Mei said with a laugh. “We’re going to be homeless. We might have practices in all five boroughs, but whatever we need to do to get ready for the next round we’re going to do. You can count on that.”
So how much is Science looking forward to a third game with Mott Haven?
“We’re going to come in strong,” Del Deo said. “We’re coming off our win over them, which I think was a little demoralizing for them. They know that they have to take us seriously, and we’re going to come in with our A-game.”
And if the Wolverines are forced to practice outside in preparation? Well, that would be just fine by Del Deo.
“We’ll just bring our coats this time,” she said.