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…
#8 Zabian Dowdell (includes interview)
#7 Ace Custis (includes interview)
#5 Chris Smith (includes interview)
Malcolm Delaney | 6’3″ | Guard | 2007-11
- Points: 2255 (3rd)
- Points Per Game: 16.6
- Assists: 543 (2nd)
- Steals: 175
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.