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Best ACC Steals To Fouls Ratios

Around here, we call it the Goldwire-Jones Award

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 02 Duke at Georgia Tech
ATLANTA, GA MARCH 02: Duke guard Jordan Goldwire (14) fights for a loose ball with Georgia Tech guard Bubba Parham (3) during the NCAA basketball game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on March 2nd, 2021 at Hank McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA.
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You could make the argument, or someone could, that a rough way to measure prudent individual defensive aggressiveness is by looking at personal fouls committed compared to steals achieved.

Of course some coaches frown upon playing for steals, preferring restraint, an approach that minimizes sacrificing sound defensive position in pursuit of a calculated gamble.

To illustrate: Virginia, the ACC’s defensive standard-setter in suppressing opponents’ scoring and field goal accuracy, is not much for stealing the ball. Over the past five seasons the Cavaliers have finished higher than 10th in the ACC in team steals just once. During that same period a single Cav ranked among the league’s top 10 in steal average.

Virginia led the ACC in scoring defense in all of those seasons and in field goal defense three of five times. The worst a Tony Bennett team did since 2017 was finish third in suppressing opponents’ shooting accuracy.

UVa team’s high in steals over those years was seventh-best in the ACC in 2018, when it averaged 6.8.

Sophomore guard Ty Jerome finished seventh in the league in steals that same year, with 55 thefts in 34 outings, a 1.6 average. Jerome had 25 more personal fouls than steals in ‘18, an expensive way to gain control of the ball. He subsequently cut back.

Other programs are more apt than Virginia to produce players whose steals outstrip their fouls. Last year the league had a half-dozen performers who aptly blended finesse and defensive opportunism, including Jose Alvarado and Jordan Goldwire, the ACC’s top two in steal average.

Of the six, only Alvarado with two and Goldwire with one fouled out of a game in 2021. Both graduated and are no longer in the ACC. Goldwire transferred this season as a grad student to Oklahoma. Syracuse’s Kadary Richmond, another winner in steals to fouls, transferred to Seton Hall after a single season with the Orange.

Richmond, like Alvarado a Brooklyn product, finished fourth in the ACC with 1.64 steals per game. Despite its reliance on zone defense, Syracuse averaged the third-most steals in the ACC (8.11 average).

ACC Regulars With More Steals Than Fouls in 2021
(Asterisk Indicates Returning Player)
Player, School Steals Fouls ACC Rank
In Stls/G
Steals: Fouls
Jose Alvarado, GT 74 59 1 1.25
Kameron McGusty, UM* 25 20 NA# 1.25
Kadary Richmond, SU 46 38 4 1.21
Joseph Girard III, SU* 39 34 10 1.15
Jordan Goldwire, D 54 52 2 1.04
Daivien Williamson, WF* 29 29 15 1.00 $
# ACC reports top 15.
$ Close enough.