Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney: Maryland 'might have the worst fans ever'
Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 8:20 PM
BLACKSBURG, VA. - The NCAA tournament implications alone make Thursday night's game between Virginia Tech and Maryland an intriguing matchup. Because of the weakened state of the ACC this year, both teams are in desperate search of RPI top 100 victories to help pad their resumes.
But the juicier story line revolves around the Hokies' return to Comcast Center. The last time Virginia Tech visited College Park back on February 14, 2009 - a game Maryland won, 83-73 - Hokies forward Jeff Allen was caught on camera making an obscene gesture to the Terrapins faithful. He said afterward it was because of a racial slur directed at him by a fan.
And now, almost two years later, the entire ordeal has left a lasting impression on Virginia Tech's players. They're once again preparing for an extremely hostile environment.
"They say anything that comes to mind. They might have the worst fans ever," said senior Malcolm Delaney, a Baltimore native. "Duke is loud because the gym is so small, but Maryland might have the worst fans. . . . They say a lot of disrespectful stuff. Even when they were recruiting me, I went to a game where they played Duke and they were reckless. So I'm not surprised by anything they say."
Delaney later said he would actually like to go to a school with such passionate fans, "but at the same time, you can go overboard with some stuff you say."
Delaney emphasized that the team doesn't even need to mention to Allen that he must control his emotions this time around. Allen says he's matured and moved on from the incident. But returning to the scene of such acrimony still worries Coach Seth Greenberg.
"You talk about nasty environments, buying a ticket doesn't give you a right to be abusive," he said Tuesday. "And you would hope that, quite honestly, the people at Maryland would do their job. Plain and simple. They need to do their job. Just because you buy a ticket to a game doesn't give you a right to be abusive. And if someone's abusive to our guys, then those people should be removed if it gets personal. That's the stance I'll take."
Terrapins center Jordan Williams wasn't fazed when informed of Delaney's remarks on Wednesday.
"That's his opinion," Williams said. "I love our fans. I think we have the best fans in the world. I love 'em."
Perhaps more important than the crowd noise is the fact that Virginia Tech desperately needs a road win over a quality opponent. This season, the Hokies' only victory in a true road game came against UNC Greensboro in an arena that featured more fans clad in maroon and burnt orange than anything else. They also have neutral site wins over Cal State-Northridge, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and St. Bonaventure.
During the four years Delaney and Allen have been in Blacksburg, Virginia Tech is just 9-16 on the road in ACC play.
"This is no personal vendetta against Maryland," Greenberg said. "It's a big game for us because if you get a road win, that's significant. That sets you apart from other teams. We need to break serve."
Staff writer Liz Clarke contributed to this report from College Park.