Jamon Gordon Named ACC Defensive Player of the Year
March 6, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Jamon Gordon was upset that Virginia Tech teammate Zabian Dowdell edged him out last season for the team lead in steals. So the Hokies' guard went out this year and had more steals than anyone else in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Gordon's pride in his defensive play was rewarded Tuesday when he was voted the ACC's best defender.
"We always check to see who's got the most steals," Gordon said. "We're kind of competitive. All the players on the team fight over steals. We've got a rule that if it bounces two times, somebody's got to get it before (the other team) gets it."
Gordon received 54 of a possible 106 votes by members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and won the award by a wide margin. Dowdell and Maryland's D.J. Strawberry were tied for second with 12 votes apiece, while the Terrapins' Ekene Ibekwe got eight votes and Duke's Josh McRoberts received seven.
Gordon, who averaged an ACC-best 2.53 steals per game, inherited the award from Duke's Shelden Williams, a two-time defensive player of the year now with the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.
"I take a lot of pride in it, just because I hate to see people score on me," Gordon said.
Gordon and Zowdell were the two leading vote-getters on the ACC's all-defensive team, and Gordon was a third-team all-conference selection. They were two big reasons why the Hokies led the league with better than a plus-4 turnover margin and allowed the second-fewest points per game behind Duke.
Gordon credits his accomplishments to an in-your-face defensive style that embraces the challenge of playing aggressive, relentless man-to-man defense.
"I hate playing zone," Gordon said with a laugh. "I like playing man-to-man, because I think that's how you earn respect from your opponents and your teammates, by going out and guarding someone with no help. If you beat me, I can't blame anybody."
That work ethic has helped the Hokies earn the respect of the tradition-laden basketball powerhouses in their new conference. The Hokies won at Duke and swept North Carolina on their way to wrapping up the No. 3 seed in this week's league tournament, and are locks to receive their first NCAA tournament berth since 1996.
"It's just a lot of hard work. A lot of people doubted us, thought we were going to be an easy win," Gordon said. "But ever since I've been here, we've been a tough game for a lot of people. A lot of games, win or loss, we've earned a lot of people's respect throughout the league, and now we're getting a lot more respect around the nation."