Tony Delk knows what a great team looks like.
The Wildcat great was part of one of the golden eras of Kentucky Basketball in the 1990s, including the memorable ‘96 team that is still regarded as one of the best college hoops teams ever assembled.
Now an in-studio analyst for the SEC Network, Delk returned to Lexington last week to watch UK’s Blue-White Game. He also got to watch the team practice, and he really likes what he’s seen of the 2016-17 Cats.
“After watching them practice, I really like them a lot,” Delk told CoachCal.com. “They compete at every position, they’re going to have depth, they’re going to be more athletic at the rim and they have three really good guards on the perimeter that can defend against anyone. The leadership will probably come from (Isaiah) Briscoe. That’s who I see being the leader on this team.”
This team may eventually reach greatness, but it’s hard to see them being what that ‘96 team was. Then again, the overall talent and depth is clearly there with this team, and so too is the desire for greatness.
Part of what made Delk’s ‘96 squad so great was everyone bought into the ‘team’ aspect and not individual achievements and numbers. Though many of them had tons of previous accolades, awards and honors, they competed as though none of it ever happened.
Delk sees that same kind of drive in this team.
“They understand that to play for him (John Calipari), you have to compete. You have to play hard,” Delk said. “Just watching their practice, they compete at every position. He doesn’t let guys off the hook because you’re a McDonald’s All-American, you’re the number one player in the country – it doesn’t matter. You have to come and compete for your time as well as for your position.”