Throughout the first three years of his collegiate career, there's little doubt that junior forward Wesley Gordon has been a driving force for the University of Colorado Buffaloes. What he sometimes lacks in offensive output, the big man more than makes up for with his defensive prowess.
With Colorado heading to Des Moines, Iowa, for the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, the Buffaloes will be looking to Gordon to lead the defensive effort against No. 9-seeded UConn, as he will match up against forward Shonn Miller, who leads the Huskies in scoring.
"It'll be felt, you know, because (Miller) is their best player, so I'm just going to make it really hard on him, for him to score," Gordon said. "Hopefully, that makes him uncomfortable and it ruins their offensive flow so that we can get out and run."
This season, Gordon earned honorable mention for the Pac-12 All-Defensive team and averaged 7.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
For the 6-foot-9 big man from Colorado Springs, defense just comes with the responsibility of playing primarily in the post.
"The defense is something I don't really think about," he said. "Offense, I think I think too much, it just messes up everything that goes on with me on my offense. I think defense just comes naturally for me.
"(On offense) I think about shooting it, passing and driving it, what should I do, who's open, things like that. Just a million things go through my mind all at one time and I just blank."
Gordon ranks 15th in CU history in rebounding with 655 and fourth in career blocks with 154 rejections.
This season in the Pac-12, Gordon boasted a top-15 finish in four major categories, all on the defensive end. He was eighth in conference rebounding, third in blocked shots, fourth in offensive rebounds with three per game and 12th in defensive rebounds with 4.6.
When the Buffs hosted Nicholls in December, Gordon tied a career-high number of rejected shots with seven, which placed him at third in Colorado basketball history for the most blocks in a single game. He is also the third player since the 1977-78 season to record 40-plus blocks in three seasons in a row.
This season alone, he's recorded half of his 10 career double-doubles, three of which occurred in successive games. During the stretch against Oregon State, Washington State and Washington in February, he recorded 36 total points and 45 rebounds in the three games.
Against No. 15 Arizona last week, Gordon finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
With that kind of defensive resume under Gordon's belt, UConn's Miller will have his work cut out for him when the Buffaloes hit the court Thursday.
Alissa Noe: , firstname.lastname@example.org