March 7, 2006
As a sophomore he was named to the defensive All-America team. As a junior last season he earned mid-major defensive player of the year honors. This year San Diego's Corey Belser is CollegeInsider.com's national defensive player of the year.
"Coach Holland makes it fun to play defense," says Belser. "He always talks about how you can win games by making stops and it's something that I have worked hard at. It's a great honor to be recognized with this award and I have to thank coach Holland for instilling that defensive mindset."
The 6-foot-6 senior from Spanaway, Washington led the 18-12 Toreros in rebounding (6.9) and steals (44) this season, which both ranked among the top five in the West Coast Conference. Additionally, he chipped in with 11.5 points per game. But stat lines are not what separate Belser from the pack.
"He is the best on-the-ball defender in America," says collegeinsider.com senior writer Joe Dwyer. "Corey draws the assignment of guarding the opposition's top scorer and he shuts him down."
Belser's ability as a stopper was evident during his sophomore season in the 2003 West Coast tournament. Belser held San Francisco's prolific scorer John Cox to 14 points in the semi-finals. The next night he limited Gonzaga's Blake Stepp to ten points, which was his lowest output of the season.
Belser has since gained national attention for his defensive prowess against Gonzaga's All-America candidate, Adam Morrison who scored 16 and 11 points respectively against Belser and San Diego in two regular season meetings in 2006. Morrison was 5-for-16 against San Diego and scored 24 points (13 points from the field), in the WCC semi-finals won by Gonzaga, 96-92 in overtime.
"You cannot coach or teach what Corey brings to the court," says San Diego head coach Brad Holland. "It's not glorious. It takes a lot of character and determination and that is what Corey is all about. I am really happy for him. To be recognized as the national defensive player of the year is quite an honor. He truly deserves it."
Belser missed the 2003-04 season with a severe knee injury, which makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.
DEFENSIVE ALL-AMERICA TEAM
2006 National Defensive Player of the Year
Arron Afflalo G 6-5 So UCLA
LaMarcus Aldridge F 6-10 So Texas
Engin Atsur G 6-3 Jr NC State
Corey Belser F 6-7 Sr San Diego
Josh Boone F 6-10 Jr Connecticut
Ronnie Brewer G/F 6-7 Jr Arkansas
Rodney Carney F 6-7 Sr Memphis
Mardy Collins G 6-6 Sr Temple
Chaz Crawford F/C 6-10 Jr Drexel
Randy Foye G 6-3 Sr Villanova
Jamon Gordon G 6-3 Jr Virginia Tech
Vernon Hamilton G 6-0 Jr Clemson
Erek Hansen C 6-11 Sr Iowa
Eric Hicks F 6-6 Sr Cincinnati
Shawn James F/C 6-9 So Northeastern
Squeaky Johnson G 5-10 Sr UAB
Ricky Soliver G 6-3 Sr Iona
Obie Trotter G 6-1 Sr Alabama A&M
Marquis Webb G 6-5 Jr Rutgers
Shelden Williams F 6-9 Sr Duke
Tony Young G 6-0 Jr Southern Illinois
The collegeinsider.com Defensive All-America team is one
twenty-one-man team, rather than compiling a first, second,
third and honorable mention. Division I coaches are involved
in the selection process, but final decision rests with the
collegeinsider.com senior staff.