Johns Hopkins wanted Conner Delaney to play lacrosse. He’s leading the men’s basketball team instead.

Conner Delaney of Johns Hopkins men's basketball plays against Dickinson.

Conner Delaney’s emergence as the go-to player for the Johns Hopkins men’s basketball team involves a variety of factors. But the genesis might be traced to a bus ride after a loss more than two years ago.

Following a 79-70 setback at Swarthmore on Jan. 11, 2018, in which he scored nine of his 13 points in the final 2:38, Delaney was approached by coach Josh Loeffler, who implored the then-freshman point guard to be more assertive offensively.


“I think his freshman year, he probably deferred to a fault early because we had good players and as a point guard and distributor, I think he was really trying to put everybody else in great positions to score,” Loeffler said. “And I think about halfway through that year, we had to sit down and talk a little bit about him just being more aggressive and looking to score more.”

Delaney, who had been a second-team All-Pennsylvania and first-team All-Delaware County selection as a high school senior, said he needed that meeting.


“I felt like that conversation gave me a new boost of confidence in the fact that Coach Loeffler trusted me to make great decisions on the floor,” the junior said. “The point guard’s job is to obviously get everyone the ball, and I knew that I still had to do that. That conversation just helped me gain a new level of confidence in myself and in my ability to play to the level that I was capable of.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound Delaney has been a catalyst for the Blue Jays, who are 19-2 overall and 13-1 in the Centennial Conference and ranked No. 7 by They will face top-ranked Swarthmore (21-0, 14-0) in a pivotal league tilt at Goldfarb Gym in Baltimore on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

If Johns Hopkins hopes to upset the Garnet, the team will likely need a sterling performance from Delaney. Not only does he lead the team in scoring (16.7 points per game), assists (4.7) and steals (1.8), but he also ranks third, second and third in the Centennial Conference, respectively, in those categories.

Conner Delaney of Johns Hopkins men's basketball plays against Christopher Newport University.

According to the school’s sports information office, Delaney is believed to be the first true point guard in program history to lead the Blue Jays in points and assists and the first player to lead in those categories since Luke Busby in 1993-94. Delaney’s career average of 4.2 assists is tops in school history, and he ranks seventh in all-time assists with 250.

But Delaney dismissed any notion that the Blue Jays will go as far as he leads them, pointing out that there are options in sophomore forward Tom Quarry (13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds), junior guard Joey Kern (9.7, 3.5) and sophomore guard Braeden Johnson (9.1, 3.2).

“It’s not one guy that determines how successful we are,” he said. “We have so many guys that Coach Loeffler and I have the utmost confidence in to make great plays and make winning plays. Our entire team is so well set-up that anyone on our team can lead us in scoring that day or make the big shot at the end of the game.”

Delaney seemed poised for similar stardom last winter, averaging 14.2 points, 4.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 10 starts. But in the second half of a 65-58 win against Dickinson on Dec. 8, 2018, he ran a back-cut and felt a pop in his right foot. A few days later, he was diagnosed with a Jones fracture, which is a described as a break between the base of the foot and the long bone of the foot that connects to the smallest toe.

Delaney called himself “thankful” for returning from the first major injury of his career.


“It was tough sitting out for the last 17 games, but once our season ended, I knew that if I just took my time and really focused on getting 100% better before I tried to play again, I’d be back to normal,” he said. “It was a long wait from the beginning of March to Oct. 15 when we started practicing this year, but watching last year gave me so much excitement to come back this year. It gave me a new hunger. … I’m just happy to be a part of it any way that I can.”

Conner Delaney of Johns Hopkins men's basketball plays against Gettysburg College.

Loeffler said he has tried to monitor Delaney’s minutes, but noted that the point guard refuses to give in to fatigue.

“The other day, we had a really tight one with Muhlenberg [on Feb. 1], and I got him some time in the first half, and we were fine,” Loeffler said. “In the second half, he just walked over with about 15 minutes to go and was like, ‘I don’t need to sub the rest of the game. I’m fine.’ He doesn’t want to come off the floor. He understands why he has to sometimes, but he’s not trying to sit on the bench near us. He wants to be out there playing the whole time.”

Delaney’s prowess on the court had once translated to the lacrosse field, where he was a sought-after long-stick midfielder who verbally committed to Villanova before returning to basketball.

Hopkins lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala said he tried to persuade Delaney to play in the spring, but relented after recognizing Delaney’s passion for basketball.

“It wasn’t hard to see that basketball was going to be his thing here, and he’s done a great job,” Pietramala said. “I know the coaches speak glowingly of him. He’s a guy that I think does a lot of things that maybe go unnoticed to the naked eye, but to a coach, they’re not unnoticed. It’s the intangible things that make up a quality basketball team, which as you see is what we have right now.”


Delaney scored a game-high 22 points against Swarthmore on Dec. 10, but took 20 shots, and Johns Hopkins fell, 67-62. So his anticipation for Wednesday’s game is running high.

“I’ve been waiting for that game ever since we lost back in December,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve played 12 games since then, and we’ve been focused on winning the next game because that’s the most important thing. Now that we’re here, I’m extremely excited. But it’s just another game. They’re a good team, and we’re a good team. I’m happy that it’s at home. I think we as a team are extremely prepared for the test on Wednesday.”