Philly basketball family tree has deep roots in the game of Delaware's Ryan Daly

It only seems like everyone involved in Philadelphia basketball is somehow related. At the very worst they are all kindred spirits, their world view framed by a 94-by-50-foot rectangle, their abilities forged in hot gyms and on hotter playgrounds.

This is the world Ryan Daly was born into, and the one from which he has now emerged, if only slightly; he is a freshman guard at Delaware, about an hour’s drive south of the City of Brotherly Love. In making that trip he brought along all that he learned from his dad, late maternal grandfather and the guy to whom he refers as his grandfather.

All of them are stereotypical Philly guys. All of them played in the Philadelphia Catholic League. All of them went into coaching — two at Saint Joseph’s University in the city, one in the NBA.

“I don’t think I’d be half the player I was if I was not born into this … lineage, I guess,” Daly said.

The 6-4 Daly is finding his way at Delaware, averaging a team-best 13.1 points per game for the Blue Hens (7-8, 0-2) entering a CAA game against Northeastern (9-5, 2-0) Thursday on ASN. He is on an uptick, too, scoring at a 17.7 clip over his last seven games while shooting 45.5% from the floor and 38.6% from 3-point range; in his first seven, those respective numbers were 8.6, 39.3 and 23.1.

“I think my confidence has really picked up after the first few games or so,” he said. “I was a little nervous, not used to the pace of college basketball.”

His teammates helped him through the adjustment period, but really he just had to play, just had to acclimate himself to the size and speed of collegiate players.

“I played in a pretty good high school basketball league,” said Daly, who (naturally) played in the Catholic League himself, at Archbishop Carroll, “so I thought I was going to be used to it, but it was a whole other level when I came up here and saw how fast and athletic these guys were. But it was a good learning experience, and I think it’s helped me now for this stretch that I’ve had.”

Everything else, he kind of already knew. His maternal grandfather was the late Jim Boyle, who played at West Catholic and St. Joe’s and was the Hawks’ head coach from 1981-89. Boyle died of lung cancer in 2005, at the age of 63. (His son Kevin, who played at Harvard, had succumbed to a rare form of cancer seven years earlier, at 37.)

One of the elder Boyle’s teammates in high school and college was Jim Lynam, who served as SJU’s coach right before Boyle and later coached the hometown Sixers, as well as the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers.

As further proof of just how deep Philly hoops roots go, Boyle’s son Jim Jr. — once the St. Joe’s Hawk mascot — married Lynam’s daughter Kathy. Which is how Daly came to regard Lynam as his grandfather.

Lynam recalls Jim Boyle Sr. saying how special an athlete Ryan was, after seeing him play football when he was in second or third grade — and that Boyle said so in “a really serious, pensive way.”

“I think that statement was very much on target,” Lynam said. “He plays so hard, and he knows how to play. … He’s a very good all-around player, and he’s a big-time competitor.”

Credit here also goes to Ryan’s dad, Brian, who played and coached at another Catholic League school, Monsignor Bonner, before working on the staffs of Patrick Chambers (another Philly guy) at Boston University and Penn State. Brian’s family — wife Tracie as well as Ryan and his younger siblings, Colin and Keri — moved with him for a time, but as Ryan was entering his sophomore year of high school returned to the Philadelphia area. Brian stepped down from his PSU post two years later.

Ryan was by then going into his senior year, in which he averaged a Catholic League-leading 21.7 points per game. He was named league MVP and presented the Markward Award, which goes annually to the city’s top player. He was also chosen Delaware County Player of the Year and first-team all-state.

He had committed to Hartford in the summer of 2015 but reconsidered. Delaware, he said, was always his “dream school,” because of its proximity to his hometown.

But just as he was about to visit the campus in March 2016, the Blue Hens fired their coach of the previous 10 years, Monte Ross. There were other schools on Daly’s radar, notably UMBC and Mount St. Mary’s, but in May UD hired former Notre Dame assistant Martin Inglesby.

Inglesby played at Archbishop Carroll two decades ago, winning the Markward Award himself, and was quick to get on the phone to Daly. Daly was almost as quick in saying that yes, he would be happy to attend Delaware.

No, they’re not related. Close enough, though.

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