Tony Delk's Message to the Kentucky Players: Sacrifice to Succeed | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Friday / June 14.
  • Tony Delk’s Message to the Kentucky Players: Sacrifice to Succeed

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    tony-delkTony Delk has a message for Kentucky and their nine McDonald’s All-Americans as they embark on a season in which they are widely expected to compete for the program’s second NCAA championship in four years.

    “What you need to do is sacrifice,” Delk said Friday on ESPNU as the network was broadcasting John Calipari’s NBA Combine which brought in 90 NBA personnel and scouts.

    Delk knows a thing or two about sacrificing to win.

    During the 1995-96 season, Delk played on a Rick Pitino-coached Kentucky team that featured six first-round NBA Draft picks, inluding Antoine Walker, Delk, Walter McCarty and Ron Mercer.

    Kentucky’s current roster has five players projected as first-round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft by in No. 3 Karl-Anthony Towns, No. 10 Willie Cauley-Stein, No. 21 Dakari Johnson, No. 25 Andrew Harrison and No. 29 Aaron Harrison.

    Alex Poythress is projected as a second-round pick in 2015, while Marcus Lee, Devon Booker and Trey Lyles are all projected as 2016 first-round picks.

    “They’re going to have a lot of draft picks, but they gotta be willing to sacrifice¬†for the good of the team,” Delk said.

    Delk is also high on freshman point guard Tyler Ulis, who is expected to get minutes alongside the Harrisons in the backcourt and is projected to stay at Kentucky for several years.

    “I would love playing with him. He reminds me of a player I played with my rookie season, Muggsy Bogues and he has Ty Lawson kind¬†of speed,” Delk said. “And he has different gears which is going to make him a great player for those guys that run the court with him.”

    Still, Delk pointed to Andrew Harrison as the most important member of this Wildcats team. Harrison had an uneven freshman season, and then he and his brother opted to return to campus after it was clear they were going to be late-first or early-second round picks last season.

    “Whoever has the ball in their hands has to be the one facilitating and make this team go on both ends of the court, not just on the offense but he has to make this team go defensively as well,” Delk said.

    Calipari plans to use a platoon system in which he plays 10-12 guys 20 minutes each.

    He said Clippers coach Doc Rivers told him one big challenge could arise if a couple of guys — say Towns and Cauley-Stein — show that they deserve more time than the others.

    That, in turn, could mean fewer minutes in the frontcourt for guys like Johnson, Lyles and Lee.

    In other words, some players may need to sacrifice more than others.

    “We all sacrificed,” Delk said by way of reminding how the ’96 team got it done. “Everyone was a great player in high school or college.

    “The big thing about being a great player is being able to understand what you need to provide for your team, sacrifice and make those kind of efforts that are going to make your team win.”


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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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