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Jordan Goldwire’s Most Unusual Stat

You don’t see this very often

Duke v Louisville
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - JANUARY 23: David Johnson #13 of the Louisville Cardinals and Jordon Goldwire #14 of the Duke Blue Devils battle for a loose ball at KFC YUM! Center on January 23, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Jordan Goldwire strikes again.

Earlier in January we noticed the 6-2 senior led the ACC in steal average. We further noted that if he kept up his superlative swiping he would become the first Blue Devil to pace the league in that stat category since Steve Wojciechowski in 1997.

Now it appears Goldwire’s ball theft will be the ACC’s second-best in 2021, eclipsed by Georgia Tech’s Jose Alvarado, the 2020 leader and a deserving first team All-ACC selection. Alvarado would be the first league player since Wake’s Chris Paul in 2004 and 2005 to repeat as the ACC steal leader.

Alvarado is acquiring steals in bunches. After amassing five in a win over Virginia Tech earlier this week, the senior ranks fourth in that category at Georgia Tech. With time running out on his career, Alvarado is 30 shy of the 240 steals Mark Price got from 1983-86. Alvarado projects to finish at least second in steals among modern Yellow Jackets, ahead of Travis Best (217) and Bruce Dalrymple (227).

Not to worry. Goldwire, a sometime starter, is coming up aces in a related way.

He’s the rare player, only the third at Duke since steals were routinely reported, to accumulate more thefts than made field goals across a season. Through a Feb. 22 triumph over Syracuse that ran Duke’s late-season win streak to four straight, the Georgian had 48 steals and 46 field goals.

(Alvarado, playing in Georgia, has 53 steals and 114 baskets.)

Light fingers are nothing new to Goldwire, who had almost as many steals last season as field goals, 47 to 58. No ACC regular had more steals than baskets in 2020. The only player besides Goldwire who comes close this season is Virginia freshman Reece Beekman with 33 field goals and 26 steals through last week’s Duke game.

Goldwire’s two Duke predecessors in so visibly placing defense before shooting were Wojciechowski, the 1998 NABC National Defensive Player of the Year, and the far less acclaimed Tyler Thornton, whose recognition peaked with a single coach’s vote for the 2012 Fan’s Guide All-Defensive Team.

Wojo never averaged more than 6.9 points from 1995-98, and was frequently given wide shooting latitude by opposing defenses. His field goal tries came predominantly from 3-point range. (As did most of Thornton’s.) “Whether I score or not is not important,” Wojciechowski, now the head coach at Marquette, said in 1996.

By the time the tough, hustling guard became an upperclassman he was the quiet focal point of Duke’s attack at both ends of the court. He ranks ninth among modern Blue Devils in career steals (203) and steals per game (1.6). The stocky 5-10 guard tied Shane Battier and Chris Duhon, both future NBA players, with 82 steals in a season (1997). That league-leading total trailed only Jim Spanarkel’s 93 in 1978 at Duke.

D.C. product Thornton, like Wojciechowski, his counterpart from Maryland, registered more steals than made field goals over his career (2011-14). A two-year starter, Thornton was a secondary playmaker beside Quinn Cook in a smallish backcourt as an upperclassman.

Also like Wojo, Thornton primed his teammates for Final Four participation in the year after he graduated.

Duke Regulars With More Steals Than FG Made In Year Under Krzyzewski
(Through Syracuse Game Of Feb. 22, 2021)
Player Season Steals FGM Duke Stls %FGM3
S. Wojciechowski 1996 29 27 2nd tie .704
S. Wojciechowski 1997 82 68 Led .621
S. Wojciechowski 1998 74 70 Led .771
T. Thornton 2011 16 13 8th tie .308
T. Thornton 2013 46 41 2nd .756
T. Thornton 2014 46 32 2nd .844
J. Goldwire 2021 48 46 Leads .304