Virginia's Monica Wright and Duke's Lindsey Harding Earn ACC Honors
Feb. 27, 2007
By JOEDY McCREARY
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) - Freshman Monica Wright made quite an impression this season as one of Virginia's top scoring threats. Duke's Lindsey Harding once again proved nobody in the Atlantic Coast Conference was better at stopping scorers.
Both were honored Tuesday for outstanding seasons.
Wright was the only player selected unanimously onto the ACC All-Freshman Team in voting results announced Tuesday, while Harding was named the league's best defensive player of the year for the second straight season.
Wright, an eight-time selection as the ACC's rookie of the week, was the top rookie scorer in the league with 14.9 points per game and led Virginia with 67 steals.
She was joined on the all-freshman team by LeLe Hardy and Christy Brown of Clemson, Florida State's Jacinta Monroe and Wake Forest's Mekia Valentine.
"A lot of freshmen had been doing really well this year, and putting up really big numbers," Wright said. "I was kind of iffy about it at first, but (winning the award) hadn't really crossed my mind a lot until just recently when I realized how many rookie-of-the-week (awards) I've gotten."
Joining Harding on the all-defensive team are Duke teammate Alison Bales, Florida State's Alicia Gladden, North Carolina State's Ashley Key and North Carolina's Camille Little.
"This year, I was kind of lucky that I had Alison Bales behind me, because I was able to pressure so hard," Harding said. "I would pressure so hard to where people would get out of control and run into Ali and she would be right there. Her being the anchor in the lane has helped me be free to take chances."
The rookie of the year and all-freshman team were determined by a vote of 55 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. The league's 12 coaches' votes determined the defensive player of the year and the all-defensive team.
Wright played at a consistently high level all season, leading the Cavaliers in scoring nine times. She fell one rookie-of-the-week award shy of the conference record of nine set by Wake Forest's Tracy Connor in 1992-93.
"It definitely wasn't easy at first, just getting used to a new program," Wright said. "Meshing with the team was definitely easier than the basketball part. The new atmosphere ... it takes me a while to get the chemistry going, but once we got it going, we took it from there."
Wright's biggest confidence boost came in the seventh game of her career on Nov. 29 when Virginia played Temple in a game marked by the return of former Cavaliers All-American Dawn Staley, the Owls' coach. Wright finished with a career-high 26 points.
"I felt like if I could hang in with this team, then I feel like I can hang with whoever," Wright said.
Harding was selected to the all-defensive team for the third time, and is the leader on a Duke defense which ranks second nationally by allowing an average of 50.3 points a game. She has 42 steals, bringing her career total to 251.
"She's worked really, really hard on the court, off the court, and she's almost having a storybook ending to her career," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said.
Teammate Bales leads the nation with 131 blocked shots. Key and Gladden joined Harding as three-time defensive team selections.
The Atlantic Coast Conference women's all-freshman and all-defensive teams, as voted on by 55 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (all-freshman) and by the league's coaches (all-defense):
All-Freshman Team (votes)
Rookie of the Year