Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Baltimore's Next Great ACC Guard: Virginia Tech Freshman Malcolm Delaney

By the 12th game of his college basketball career, Malcolm Delaney was a starting guard on a team that just a year ago was in the NCAA tournament. Like any freshman, he had his moments where he was brilliant and moments where he was not. Typical Stuff. He wasn't very well known around the league intially, but by the end of the ACC season, everybody knew his name. How could you not. He made second team all ACC tournament this year after averaging 15 points and 4.5 assists in two games. He was the only freshman on either the first or second all tournament teams. His performance against North Carolina was more than impressive because this was not the first, but the second time he had played very well against the top ranked men's basketball team in the country. You see, the first matchup the Hokies had against the mighty Tar Heels in February didn't go so well for Malcolm and his Virginia Tech teammates. They ended up losing by 39 in Chapel Hill and it appeared as though Tech's season was in serious limbo. The lone, and I mean lone bright spot was the quiet freshman combo guard with Bmore game. Malcolm caught fire that night and poured in 20 points, 12 more than the next highest scorer on that team. The confidence he garnered from that experience would serve him well in the second go round with the Heels. He made shots early and quickly had his team believing they could beat the Heels' in the ACC tournament semi-finals. If not for a few untimely mistakes towards the end of the game who knows what would have happened. Regardless, what we all did know after that game was that Malcolm Delaney could ball. Period.

Malcolm Delaney has been very good for a long time. Most ACC players are also. No big deal. Delaney did everything that a post-Melo Baltimore basketball star could do. Played AAU ball for Team Melo, played for renowned Towson Catholic, and signed a D-1 basketball scholarship in a BCS conference. At first glance it would seem that Delaney is just another skilled athlete that was good at the game because it comes easy to him. Sure, you realize that he works on his game, (he's an ACC player, of course he does) but like any ACC freshman guard, does he know what it takes to succeed on this level? Does he understand what kind of success he could achieve by going the extra mile in the off season?.....Well, after talking to Towson Catholic coach Josh Pratt it is abundantly clear that Delaney is no a stranger to hard work, and that his fantastic freshman season is the result of his off season labor. In a conversation I had with Coach Pratt regarding his former high school superstar he emphasized this point. "I think Virginia Tech has a great player. He has the potential to be an All-ACC player. He works at it. He really works on his game. I can't really take credit for that. My biggest thing was not to mess him up. It's all him. Everything he's done he's earned."

Coach Pratt did not stop there. Here is the rest of the conversation:

ACCBallers: What has Malcolm shared with you about his Virginia Tech/ACC experience?

Coach Pratt: He stays in touch with Larry (Bastfield) and Brandon Green and some of my younger guys. What he did in the weight room helped prepare him for the ACC but they really worked him. He (Malcolm D.) said 'Coach man, it's just another level. Everyones really good. there's no off nights.' Malcolm is tough, he's gonna be a leader.

ACCBallers: I noticed that towards the end of his senior season he made that jump from being a 3 or 4 star combo guard to a legitimate 4 star point guard. When do you feel like he began to get noticed on a national level?

Coach Pratt: (I told him) If you lift everyday from now until the start of the season you'll take your game two levels up. If you want to be an upper echelon player, you're going to have to get stronger to finish games stronger. He had a thin frame, but he had everything. You've got to give credit to AAU coach Corbin and Team Melo. I don't know if I'll ever have a guy like him again.

As you can see Malcolm is yet another smaller Bmore guard with the desire to work hard for all of his success. Although he was very modest in the interview I'm sure Coach Pratt had something to do with Malcolm being the quality of player he is now. I'd quickly like to thank coach Pratt for his time and wish both he and Malcolm best of luck in the seasons to come.