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#4 Malcolm Delaney | 10 Greatest VT Players of All Time

#4 Malcolm Delaney | 10 Greatest VT Players of All Time

This Friday we look back at one of the greatest careers in Hokie basketball history, a career that just ended.  The career of the B’more Bomber – Malcolm Delaney…

Past Entries:

#10 Bill Matthews

#9 Jeff Allen

#8 Zabian Dowdell (includes interview)

#7 Ace Custis (includes interview)

#6 Dale Solomon

#5 Chris Smith (includes interview)

THIS WEEK:

Malcolm Delaney | 6’3″ | Guard | 2007-11

CAREER NUMBERS:

  • Points: 2255 (3rd)
  • Points Per Game: 16.6
  • Assists: 543 (2nd)
  • Steals: 175

OF NOTE:

  • First Team All-ACC: 2010-11
  • Honorable Mention AP All-American: 2010-11
  • Finished 2nd in scoring in ACC – 18.7 PPG: 2010-11
  • First Team All-ACC: 2009-10
  • Honorable Mention AP All-American: 2009-10
  • Fourth Team All-American – The Sporting News: 2009-10
  • Led ACC in scoring – 20.2: 2009-10
  • Third Team All-ACC: 2008-09
  • ACC Player of the Week – 3 times
  • 14th on the ACC’s all-time scoring list

WHY HE’S IN THE TOP 5:

M.D. usually means someone is a doctor.  In Malcolm Delaney’s case, he’d have a Doctorate of Scoring. Delaney was extremely dependable after the tail end of his freshman season through the end of his career. He scored in double figures in 93 of 101 games over his final three seasons, and in 45 of 48 ACC regular season games.  Malcolm led the ACC in scoring his junior year (20.2 PPG — second highest season average by a Hokie in the last 20 years) and was second in the ACC his senior year (18.7 PPG). Malcolm was 6th in the ACC in scoring his sophomore year at over 18 PPG.  Can you believe he was actually coming off the bench behind Hank Thorns the first half of his freshman year?  That seems ages ago now.

Malcolm finished third on VT’s all time scoring list with 2255 points.  And he averaged 19.0 PPG his final three seasons (16.6 overall).

The only weakness of his game was he wasn’t a great penetrator and didn’t have a soft runner like Zabian Dowdell did.  But Malcolm was very good at two things:

  • Getting to the line and making free throws
  • Knocking down three-pointers

Last week we looked at Chris Smith, whose career rebounding numbers will never be broken.  Well, I don’t believe Malcolm’s free throw records will ever be broken, either.  He finished with 721 made free throws — 128 ahead of second place all time (that’s a 22% increase over the previous high).  He posted the highest two single season totals for makes (230 was his high — 30 ahead of anyone other than him).  Delaney’s 84.5% is also a record, just barely edging out Phil Thieneman.  That record could be broken, but not the makes.

Yes, many of his free throws came from flops.  Malcolm deserved an Academy Award at times when he got bumped.  But referees got wise to that and stopped giving him those calls.  Yet he still managed to get to the line 213 times his senior year (more than six per game) and hit 85% of those attempts.  Malcolm adjusted his game.

Malcolm was just about Tech’s only 3-point threat his last two seasons and finished with 264 triples for his career, just three behind former teammate A.D. Vassallo for the most ever.  He struggled from deep his junior year, hitting just 31%, but shot 41% his senior year, marking the second time Malcolm drained more than 40% from downtown for a year.

OK, you cannot live by points alone.  What else did he do, you ask?  Well, not only was he scoring, he was dishing out the points, too.  Malcolm averaged 4.0 assists per game for his career and finished second all time on the VT assist list with 543, just four away from Bimbo Coles’s record of 547. Delaney produced two of the five highest season assist totals in Tech history.

Check out this stat: Malcolm’s junior year, he either scored or assisted on 969 of Tech’s 2370 points scored in the 33 games he played in.  That’s 41% of the points.  Yes, the offense went through him.

And while Malcolm certainly was not a great defensive stopper, he did manage to pilfer 175 steals in his career.   That’s just eight away from 10th place all time.  Keep in mind he was playing close to 40 minutes per game, so his legs had to be tired at times and you do have to conserve energy occasionally (ask Dell and Bimbo.. we’ll get to them later). So that helps to explain his man-defense struggles to a degree.

When it all comes down it, he’s in the top five for two reasons:

  • Delaney was First Team ACC twice, Third Team another year
  • He led the ACC in scoring for a year, second another  year

That’s a big deal, even in a so-called ‘watered down’ ACC.  Trust me, it wasn’t that weak.  Last I checked, the ACC won the National Title two of the four years Malcolm was at Tech.  They produced six ncaa tournament teams his junior year, the year he led the conference in scoring.  This year’s likely #1 pick (Kyrie Irving) is from the ACC.  The entire unc starting lineup is rated as First Round NBA Draft Picks for 2012.  So yes, there was still plenty of talent at the top, and Malcolm made the First Team twice, and Third Team as a sophomore.

GREATEST GAME:

Wow, this one is tough.  The problem is most of Malcolm’s huge games came in losses like unlv his senior year (he scored 30 points, including 7/9 from 3-point range).  The January ’09 game against clemson would have been an easy choice if VT had won.  Malcolm had 25 at the half, including a 3/4-court shot at the buzzer.  M.D. finished with 37 for the game, a career high. But VT choked up the lead in the second half and were defeated.  He also had 17 points and 10 assists against unc in the 2009 ACC Tournament, but again, VT lost (he actually had four great games against unc… all losses).

I’ll have a split decision here for his best game (both against georgia tech):

  • 2.13.11 – 33 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals against georgia tech at home in a 102-77 win.  Delaney hit 9/14 from the floor, 3/4 behind the arc, and 12/14 from the line.  He had 22 points with 7:41 to go in the first half before foul trouble forced him to sit.
  • 3.6.10 – 32 points, 9 assists, and a steal in a key 88-82 win at georgia tech to finish the regular season at 10-6 in the ACC (and make the NCAAs, we thought).  Malcolm was 7/15 from the floor, 4/7 from 3-point range, and 14/17 from the line.
  • Again, though, if we were picking a game win or lose, you’d have to go with that clemson game his sophomore year.  Malcolm was unconscious.

TEAM RECORD:

  • Overall: 87-50 (tied 1982-86 Hokies for the most wins ever in a 4-year span)
  • ACC Record (Regular Season): 35-29
  • Home Record: 53-15
  • ACC Home Record: 23-9
  • Finished in 4th place in the ACC (tied or outright) 3 of 4 years.
  • Made ACC Semi-Final Saturday twice.
  • Beat #1… twice (and came really close two other times).
  • Toughest Loss: #1 unc 68, VT 66 (3.15.08 – ACC Tournament Semi-Finals – knocked the Hokies out of the NCAA Tournament and cost them a chance at an ACC title)
  • Biggest Win: VT 64, #1 duke 60 (2.26.11)
  • Accomplishment: Tied the 1994-95 team for the school record for wins in a year with 25 in 2009-10

Yes, it is sad and disappointing that Malcolm and the guys never got the chance to play in the ncaa tournament.  They lived on the bubble three times, and went 0-for-3.  But I’ll say it – the Hokies of the Malcolm Delaney years were better than the Hokies of the Zabian Dowdell days.  Start your hate mail now.  Seriously, I mean it.  I think they had a better four year run (tied for most wins in four years in VT history and had a much better conference record), and I’d take the Hokies of this year IF everyone was healthy over the 2006-06 Hokies.  I simply think they were more talented.  The Dowdell teams probably played more like a team, and were definitely better on defense, but they couldn’t touch the offense of the Delaney teams.  The Dowdell team also never finished 4-12 in the ACC one year (I know, believe me, the tragedies).  The Delaney teams’ worst ACC year was 7-9, and finished 9-7 this year despite being down to basically five scholarship players by the end of the year, and without last year’s second leading scorer for all but one ACC game.

The Hokies of the Malcolm years were fun to watch and could play with anyone in the nation — proven by their two defeats of #1 and two more near misses.  We’ll all miss Malcolm and the other seniors from his class.

SUMMARY:

You have guys like Ace Custis that everyone loved.  You have guys like Zabian Dowdell that everyone roots for because of his hard work.  And then you have Malcolm.  He just never won over the entire fan base.  That was always a bit of an enigma for a star.  I think his intensity had a lot to do with it.  Malcolm was as fiery as anyone on the court.  Was it leadership, or was it cockiness?  Others accused him of selfishness, rarely passing on fast breaks.  Then how do you explain the fact he’s second on the assist list?  And some people didn’t like the flopping or whining at officials.  Yet Malcolm took more abuse on the court than anyone other than Allen Iverson, throwing his body around like a rag doll.  He often didn’t get the calls other “stars” did.  And when officials changed their calls for him, he changed his style of play.

Whether you loved him, or were lukewarm about him, he was special.  And Malcolm was the Roy Halladay of ACC basketball, often playing close to, if not all 40 minutes of games.  He left it all on the court every night. Here’s to you, Malcolm, the fourth best player in VT basketball history. And here’s hoping you have a speedy trip to the NBA.

PHOTOS:

This post was written by:

- who has written 1196 posts on Tech Hoops.

Niemo is a member of the VT Class of '98. While not a professional journalist by any stretch, Niemo analyzes and breaks down every minute of Hokie hoop action. He also researches topics of interest such as Hokie recruits, program revenue, statistical data on the team, previews VT opponents, and discusses his favorite bourbons/Scotches. In addition to his passion for Hokie hoops, Niemo has attended 126 straight VT football home games (every game since '94), eclipsing the 100 mark in September of '09 and recently attended his 20th consecutive VT/uva game. During the final home basketball game of his senior year, he was brought onto the court and was awarded 2 passes to the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament in Philly during a timeout for being a "Super Fan" during his time at VT. The Hokie Bird made the award on behalf of Athletic Director Jim Weaver. Niemo was known to be in the front row of every home game with his familiar red afro hairdo.

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  • LuvzAznChix

    Ha! I knew…I just NEW you were going to put him 4th All-Time!!! Not complaining though. I sincerely hope he gets drafted this year & is given a solid role as a bench player. Lot of folks are saying the talent pool for this year’s draft is flat-out s#!%. What are your thoughts on this year’s talent for the NBA draft???

    • Niemo

      I don’t follow the draft that closely but from what I’ve heard, it bears what you said – crap. I thought it was interesting that all 5 unc starters are pegged as 1st Round picks for 2012. No wonder they are preseason #1 or 2 with kentucky. duke’s up, unc’s down; unc’s up, duke might be down some. With no Irving, Singler, or Smith next year, I think duke will struggle by their standards. They could finish anywhere from 12-4 to 8-8 in the league.

  • Bryan

    I knew this was coming and I disagree. Delaney couldn’t even win in the clutch. I’m not just talking about the end of games, he couldn’t put together performances against much weaker teams in games that VT absolutely needed. He was a special player no doubt, but without taking VT to the NCAAs, he simply doesn’t deserve to be #4.

    • Niemo

      I didn’t say this in the article, Bryan, but I could make a case for Delaney anywhere from #4 to #8. I chose the high end, and not just because he’s fresh in my memory. I chose there because when you look at his body of work, it is pretty impressive. Even as a team, going 35-29 in the ACC over 4 years, finishing tied for 4th or better 3 of 4 years, that’s pretty darn good.

      As for not taking VT to the ncaas… Did MALCOLM keep us out of the ncaas? Or did the committee? I honestly feel like two of those three bubble years (and we were close their sophomore year) we should have been in, no doubt about it. So I cannot penalize him for something that I feel like something (the committee) else took away from him and the team.

      And as you’ll see coming up… one of the players still left on the list never made the NIT even and had three losing records.

  • chuck

    Unlike Frank Beamer, Delaney was able to get a couple wins v #1 teams. However, it was never those games that were the deciding factor for the committee, in fact the committee only had us in the conversation because we got those wins v #1…we were in trouble, then we beat Duke, now we’re in for sure….and then we lose on SR night to BC, by alot.

    No, the deciding factors were our Clemson season enders….our first round ACC loss to Miami…games that we should have won. Delaney was just not enough of a closer.

    With Delaney, I will always wonder if maybe he dominated the ball a little less, if we’d have had a more synergistic outcome as a group. He played with blinders on, IMO….

    There’s no discounting the #s or his imact…i’d have switched him with Dowdell and put him ahead of Ace (Ace couldn’t carry a team, he didn’t have a great SR year)….#7 for Delaney…

    For all the wins, VT was still 44-45 in games where we didn’t play a patsy during his run…this includes ACC games, and non-conf opponents that weren’t walkovers…

    • Niemo

      Ace had no one around him his senior year, other than Troy Manns, who didn’t really take off until the following year. Can’t really blame that on Ace. He was a guy that needed the fall fed to him, or guys that could create and let him clean up inside. Had none of that after Wat/Goode/Smitty left.

  • chuck

    Troy Manns could feed the post…he was an adequate D-1 PG…i played some in the summers with him, and I’ll argue that Hussey handcuffed him some with that horrid offense.

    And we sure missed enough shots that he could have been a better garbage man…problem is Ace was too skinny for a lot of opponents, an was playing on one leg, really…his reconstructed knee took so much lift away from him.

    If you factored in playing with one leg, he should be #1 on this list probably…but by his impact, he was really allowed to operate in his SO/JR years (i matched his 4 years, 93-97) because we had such good spacing, crisp screens, and he got no double teams (except for those of the flash variety, no dedicated doubles), and we could knock down the 3. Like you said that all disappeared.

    Everyone on this list could win games all by themself…and as I am looking back on the 97 season, i am seeing 15-16 and several blowout losses to middling A-10 teams…i’d think you have to rise above that…i consider him a peer of Bryant Matthews in some regard, because of his SR year…his accomplishments as a So/Jr allow him to make the list, but his SR year almost gets him booted…it exposed him, scouts certainly weren’t too impressed.

    I know you have access to him, and a personal affinity…i took business info systems 101 in McBride 100 with the guy and learned about Lotus 1-2-3 Spreadsheets, and MS DOS under a real hardon of a professor named Anderson…so i wish he were higher…

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Goodraisin

    ESPN doesn’t project Delaney to be taken in the NBA draft. I can certainly understand why… he doesn’t do any one thing particularly well and you can’t play him at point guard, which makes him an extremely undersized shooting guard. It’s a hard truth for us VT fans because for the most part, we loved some Malcolm Delaney… but we shouldn’t get our hopes up about either Delaney or Allen going to the NBA. The chances are very, very slim.

  • chrishokie

    For me, it’s hard to compare the greatness of guard vs. forward. I think you have put Delaney in the right place among the guards, his competition for that spot being ZD. There are tradeoffs in their stats but they are relatively close over 4 years. I think that ZD was a more mature player and probably a more calming force in tight games. It’s hard to measure the value of that but it is worth something.

    But, for me, the tilt towards Malcolm is this. ZD played along side a very good point guard in Jamon Gordon and I think that helped him, offensively and defensively. MD had to play the point as well as being the team’s best scoring option. Having to do both probably makes you a little worse at each one unless you are among the elite. If you replace MD with ZD the last 4 years I don’t think the team is as good. And I think that putting MD in ZD’s place along side of JG would have made those teams a little better. I do think that a healthy roster this year would have produced our best team ever and MD may be viewed more positively because of that.

    As for his future, some of MD’s passes this year were dazzling – no looks, between the legs, in traffic. He showed some court vision I didn’t think he had. His playmaking potential is better than ZD’s. And his shooting range is also better. MD really helped himself by geting his 3pt% over 40% this year. Making people guard you away from the basket is huge at the next level. Look at what shooting range did for a shorter and a less athletic Mark Price. And MD will have other scorers around him. MD’s biggest challenge will be his head. I think he is smart but he loses himself sometimes. ZD has shown maturity in his climb to an NBA roster. How will MD handle the setbacks that are inevitable for someone who doesn’t have superstar talent?

  • FruitpietheMagician

    I think Malcolm is a class act, and I think you have him ranked right. The key for me was his toughness. This is evident in that:

    1. He did everything Seth asked him to do.
    2. He carried our injury-plagued team
    3. He was fun to watch, and made our team fun to watch.
    4. He turned it on when he needed to and scored.

    He had a few misses at times when the game was on the line, but don’t we all? Malcolm was the reason my family got as excited as me about Hokie Basketball. My daughter’s first name is Delaney, and he met her a bunch of times after the game and signed a VT ball and took pics. I will miss watching him play, and wish he was drafted by the Wizards to keep him local. Good Luck in France Malcolm if that is where you end up. You will be missed – a lot!

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