Former University of Kentucky All-American Tony Delk’s idea of a perfect evening: a glass of wine, a good book and the comfort that comes with the easing of chronic pain.
When ESPN did not renew his contract as a basketball commentator, Delk looked for other opportunities. This led him to launch his own line of wines last weekend. Next spring, he plans to have a memoir (working title, “Shooters”) in bookstores, and he hopes to see his name on a Kentucky-based medical treatment center.
The Tony Delk IMAC Regeneration Center will seek to alleviate chronic pain without the need for surgery, he said. Two baseball players, David Price and Ozzie Smith, have invested in IMAC Regeneration Centers in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Chesterfiefld, Mo., respectively.
“As much as I love basketball, I love trying to create multiple streams of income and invest in other things,” Delk said in a telephone conversation last week.
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Delk does not consider himself a wine connoisseur. He said he seldom even sips wine. His girlfriend, Nicole Castoreno, has the educated palate, he said.
The idea to launch a line of wines came through a friend of a friend. This friend of a friend works in the Napa Valley region of California, and approached him with the idea several years ago. Then an assistant coach at New Mexico State, Delk was too busy to look into investing in wine.
Now, he had time.
Thus was the beginning of Delk’s brand of chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines. The Wildside Winery in Versailles produced the wines.
Delk sees each wine as distinctive. The cabernet sauvignon grapes came from Lodi, Calif. They were shipped to Wildside, where they aged for a year in Blanton’s bourbon barrels. Alex Southwell, a distributor for Wildside Winery, said the aging in bourbon barrels increases the alcohol content.
“It’s 15 percent alcohol,” he said. “It’s a very heavy, full body red that’s got a lot of flavor to it, a lot of those flavors from that bourbon.”
Of course, bourbon is mother’s milk to a sizable number of Kentuckians. While the combination of bourbon and wine might sound odd, it’s trendy in wine circles, Southwell said.
The chardonnay involved grapes from Washington state. Southwell said that processing in stainless steel barrels gave the white wine a less buttery taste than the typical chardonnay.
Delk’s white wine tastes like a cross between a chardonnay and a pinot grigio, Southwell said.
Delk chose the name Lorenz00’s Reserve for his wines. His middle name is Lorenzo. Plus, of course, he wore No. 00 as a basketball player.
An older sister, Florence Delk, gave him the middle name, he said. With 11 children, his mother had run out of names, he said.
Delk is not the first athlete to be associated with his own brand of wine. Chris Paul (pinot noir) and another former UK player, Tayshaun Prince (Kentucky Blue Riesling), marketed wines in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Delk said he intended to follow their leads and donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.
Delk’s wines are available at four Lexington area locations: the Liquor Barn at Hamburg, Beaumont and Chevy Chase, as well as Ernie’s Spirits.
Delk hopes to soon introduce his wines in Louisville and Paducah.
The wine is not inexpensive. A bottle sells for $30. Southwell said the price reflects markups for Delk, the distributor and Liquor Barn.
Plus, he said, “Kentucky wine is generally a little bit higher.”
Less is more
When discussing the importance of three-point shots in Kentucky’s offense this season, John Calipari has been something of a Goldilocks. Shooting more than 20 times from beyond the arc is too hot. UK’s average of 12.4 three-point shots going into this weekend was too cold.
What’s just right? The high teens. “Maybe 20 every once in a while,” Calipari said Thursday. “We don’t want more than that because that’s not who we are.”
Here’s the identity Calipari said he has in mind for this season’s Kentucky team:
“I’d rather be an attack team that loves to get in the lane,” he said, “and likes threes, but loves the lane. Just lives in that lane.”
When it comes to three-point shots, Calipari sounds like a firm believer in less is more. Or, if you prefer, more is less.
“Any time we shot 27, 28, 29, 30 threes, we’ve lost that game,” he said. “We’ve lost it. So it’s not how we play. But I do want more than 12.”
A check of the records seemed in order. In Calipari’s nine seasons as coach, Kentucky has taken as many as 28 three-point shots in nine games. UK won seven of those games, which makes for a .778 winning percentage.
That’s not much less than Calipari’s overall winning percentage of .826 as Kentucky coach.
Of course, the losses when UK shot a lot of threes are vivid: the 4-for-32 debacle against West Virginia in the 2010 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight game and the 6-for-28 downer against Vanderbilt in the 2012 SEC Tournament finals.
And it seems unwise to suggest this season’s Kentucky team try to win games with three-point shooting.
And the winner isn’t …
Through the first four weeks, the SEC has not chosen a Kentucky Wildcat for its Player or Freshman of the Week awards. That marked the first time in John Calipari’s nine seasons as coach that UK did not have an award winner in the first four weeks of selections.
In Calipari’s previous eight seasons, UK averaged 2.4 Freshman of the Week winners in the first four weeks. Only once in the last eight seasons had UK had only one Freshman of the Week in the first four weeks. Curiously, that was 2011-12 when Anthony Davis won the first award.
The high-water mark came in 2009-10 when UK players were named Freshman of the Week in each of the first five weeks: Eric Bledsoe followed by four straight by John Wall.
The SEC names a Player and Freshman of the Week 17 times each season. UK players were named Freshman of the Week 11 times in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2014-15.
UK players named Freshman of the Week the most times: Brandon Knight (six in 2010-11), Terrence Jones (five in 2010-11), Devin Booker (five in 2014-15) and Wall (five in 2009-10).
As for Player of the Week, the SEC has named UK players much less often. Of the 140 Player of the Week awards in the Calipari era, a UK player has won it 18 times. By comparison, of the 140 Freshmen of the Week, 68 played for Kentucky.
Shooting streak ends
Kentucky made 46.4 percent of its shots against Harvard last weekend. That ended a two-game streak of shooting with 60-percent accuracy. UK made 60 percent of its shots against Fort Wayne and 66.7 percent of its shots against UIC.
UK hadn’t shot 60 percent or better in two straight games since Dec. 3 and 7, 2002 (62.7 percent against High Point, 60.3 percent against North Carolina).
The last time a Kentucky team shot 60 percent or better in three straight games? You have to go back to the first three games of the 1982-83 season.
Joe B. Hall’s Wildcats shot 62.7 percent against Butler, 75 percent (yes, 75 percent) against Notre Dame and 63.6 percent against Villanova.
UK won those three games by an average of 21.3 points.
Made for TV
Before last Saturday at Kentucky, a Harvard game had been on the main ESPN channel only once. Oklahoma State was the opponent in 2011.
By contrast, Kentucky will have 13 games televised by the main ESPN channel this regular season.
To Cliff Hagan. He turned 86 on Saturday. … To Eric Bledsoe. He turned 28 on Saturday. … To Terry Mobley. He turned 74 on Saturday. … To Cameron Mills. He turns 42 on Sunday (today). … To Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson. He turns 58 on Tuesday.