Duke's Lindsey Harding Named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year .
Feb. 28, 2006
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Lindsey Harding played defense before she could dribble. Her father wouldn't have it any other way.
"It was something I was always taught from day one," the Duke point guard said. "Defense is the most important part of basketball. My father used to always tell me, 'Play defense! Play defense!'"
She's still doing it.
Harding was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday after helping the second-ranked Blue Devils allow a league-low 35 percent shooting.
North Carolina's La'Tangela Atkinson, Florida State's Alicia Gladden, North Carolina State's Ashley Key and Boston College's Aja Parham were also named to the all-defensive team, selected by the league's 12 coaches.
The all-freshmen team also was announced Tuesday. Marissa Coleman of Maryland led the team as the only unanimous pick of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association and was joined by her teammate Kristi Toliver, Wake Forest's Deirdre Naughton, Duke's Abby Waner and Florida State's Britany Miller.
Harding, a 5-foot-10 junior who was suspended all of last season for an unspecified violation of team rules, averaged 2.07 steals to finish tied for 10th in the ACC. But her contribution hardly can be judged by statistics alone.
"She's one of those kids who's good on the ball, and she's really good off the ball, too," Blue Devils coach Gail Goestenkors said. "She's willing to take a charge, and she does a lot of the little things that go into making a great defensive player."
That includes often guarding players much taller than her, or much shorter. Harding was just as effective against Tennessee forward Candace Parker as she was against North Carolina point guard Ivory Latta.
"I had to guard Ivory Latta, who's like 5-3, and a couple of times against Tennessee, I ended up on Candace Parker, who's like 6-3," Harding said. "We switch off on different people, which can lead to some mismatches."
Despite Harding's solid play against Latta, the Tar Heels swept Duke for the second-straight season, running their winning streak in the rivalry to five games.
Latta averaged 17.5 points in those games but finished 12-for-32 from the field, and her 11 assists were offset by 13 turnovers.
"I think it's a great matchup," Harding said. "We're both totally different point guards. I try to get my teammates easy shots, and we know Ivory likes to score. I feel like as a team, not just me, we did a good job on her."
Freshmen Coleman and Toliver led the fourth-ranked Terrapins (26-3) to the winningest regular season in school history. Both needed a little time to make the starting lineup, but Maryland took off once they settled in.
"I'd say, really, late January or early February is when we got our rotation down," coach Brenda Frese said. "I think the most exciting thing about Marissa and Kristi is they haven't played or acted like freshmen."
The Demon Deacons get the same from Naughton. She completed the season by averaging 24.3 points in the final week, including 37 points against Savannah State to set a Wake Forest freshman record.
She then scored 26 points in a loss to Florida State. For the season, she has 56 3-pointers, another Wake Forest mark for a freshman.
"We had very high expectations for her," coach Mike Petersen said. "Because, first of all, she's a very good basketball player, and she's also very driven. She's a very competitive person. It's absolutely no surprise to me that she's had a really good freshman year."
2005-06 ACC All-Defensive Team
2005-06 ACC Defensive Player of the Year
2005-06 ACC All-Freshman Team