Virginia Tech-Maryland: Malcolm Delaney could shine in homecoming
After pronouncing that Maryland "might have the worst fans ever," during the build-up to Virginia Tech's matchup with the Terrapins, senior Malcolm Delaney won't have many fans when he returns to Comcast Center on Thursday night. But he will have one of his best friends on the other team.
Delaney and Maryland guard Sean Mosley grew up together in Baltimore and have played basketball with each other since they were 13 years old. The two have talked frequently this season, and to keep track of his buddy, Delaney has made it a point to watch a few Maryland games on television this year.
On Thursday night, though, their friendship will be put on the back-burner temporarily.
"When we get on the court, I’m not friends with anybody, even my best friends," Delaney said. "I hate everybody the same when I get on the court. When we get off the court, we’ll shake hands and hug or whatever we’re gonna do. But while we’re playing, I really don’t look at anybody as my friend like that."
This game, though, could serve as another showcase for Delaney's offensive talents, at the expense of Mosley and company. Delaney has added some more tension to what was already a pivotal matchup for both teams, and it would seem he has the opportunity to make his latest homecoming a memorable one.
Though the Terrapins are the best defensive team in the country right now in terms of defensive efficiency and have veterans like Mosley and senior Adrian Bowie in the backcourt, Maryland also relies on freshmen Terrell Stoglin and Pe'Shon Howard to log significant minutes.
Recently, Delaney has feasted on youthful backcourts. He exploded for 28 points last week against North Carolina going against freshman Kendall Marshall for much of the night, and then followed it up with a nine-assist performance against Wake Forest's inexperienced guards. Not to mention the last time Maryland and Virginia Tech met -- in a 104-100 double-overtime thriller that the Terps won in Blacksburg a year ago -- Delaney went off for 27 points.
"When we first got here, everybody looked at us as ‘these freshman,’ so they just tried to attack us," Delaney said earlier this week. "Now it’s my turn and I get to look on the other side. There’s a lot of young guards that are good, but just like you can’t let a freshman take your spot, you can’t let a freshman outplay you on the other team either."
Delaney's scoring average has actually dropped from 20.2 a year ago to 18.6 this season, despite the string of injuries the Hokies have had to overcome. But he's been far more efficient with his shot selection. Delaney is currently on pace to set career highs in overall field goal percentage (44.4 percent) and three-point field goal percentage (43.3 percent)
Whether it's Mosley or Bowie or even one of Maryland's freshmen guarding Delaney, it will be interesting to see how he responds tonight. He has to overcome some demons from last year's game. He missed two costly free throws in double overtime. And Delaney will almost certainly catch some extra venom from the Maryland crowd due to his comments this week, but he's never been one to shy away from the spotlight.
"It’ll be good to play in front of a lot of my friends and family that don’t really get a chance to see me play," Delaney said. "But I’m not going into Maryland trying to just play my best game because it’s at Maryland. I’m trying to do whatever it is for my team to win."
| January 20, 2011; 11:10 AM ET
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