• Defense earns scholarships.
Contrary to popular belief, coaches sometimes recruit players more for their ability to get stops than to get points. Four years ago then Nevada coach Mark Fox (now Georgia's head man) was so impressed by 7-foot JaVale McGee's promise as a shot blocker that he decided to recruit him after watching a summer-league game in which McGee scored only one basket. McGee went on to block 122 shots in two seasons at Nevada before becoming the Washington Wizards' first-round draft pick in 2008.
• Defense brings playing time.
Kramer, Purdue's 6'3" linebacker-tough stopper, thought he might be headed for a redshirt season as a freshman until then assistant coach Cuonzo Martin explained to him how he could avoid that fate. "He told me that if I played defense—I mean really dedicated myself to playing defense—I could play here right away," Kramer says. He followed the advice so well that he started 24 games in his first season and made the Big Ten all-defensive team.
• Defense wins awards.
Or at least nominations. Tiller was named one of the 50 finalists for the Wooden Award for national player of the year even though he has never averaged more than 8.4 points per game. "It's tremendous that a single-digit scorer could make that list," says Missouri coach Mike Anderson. "It shows what kind of impact he has. Scoring a ton of points isn't the only way to make people remember your name. Good defenders can get themselves noticed."
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