In four years of college, Derrick Gordon has worn three different uniforms – those of Western Kentucky, UMass and, finally, Seton Hall.
When the No. 6-seeded Pirates take on No. 11-seeded Gonzaga on March 17, it will be their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005-06. But it will be Gordon’s third time at the Big Dance. He is the first player ever to ac- complish that feat.
The senior said it best after he helped SHU defeat Villanova to win the Big East Tournament on Saturday, March 12 at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m a winner.”
“It just says a lot about the player and person he is,” Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard said of Gordon’s historic accomplishment.
As the lone senior on a sophomore-laden team, Gordon has taken on more of a leadership role with Seton Hall than ever before.
“I’m what you call an ultimate winner,” Gordon said. “Regard- less of what school I go to – I’m glad I ended up here – I’m going to come in with a winner’s men- tality. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win the game. My thing when I first came here was to get everybody on the same page.”
Gordon scored 12 points in WKU’s 81-66 first-round loss to top-seeded Kentucky in 2012, and then scored 10 against Ten- nessee after his No. 6-seeded Minutemen were knocked off by No. 11-seeded Tennessee, 86-67, last year.
“I’ve been there twice, so I know how it is,” he said. “I know that it’s just a different, different experience. The crowd, the court, everything – it’s different.”
Though he’s never won a March Madness game, Gordon believes in these Pirates.
“We’ve been playing great. I think we’ve been playing better
than any team in the country right now,” he said. “It’s extremely different (than his WVU and UMass teams). But I have a very good feeling that it’s all set up for us to make a very deep run.”
Just how deep? Gordon has high hopes.
“If we can make it to the Final Four, that’d be even more special,” Gordon said.
A reporter then asked the guard if he believed that was realistic. Early betting lines listed Gonzaga as 2.5-point favorites, after all.
“Yeah, that’s realistic,” Gordon said with a confident but straight face. “Definitely. I don’t see why not. We just took down the (former AP) No. 1 team (Villanova). We weren’t even favored to win the Big East, and we were able to prove the doubters wrong. Now, we got some work to do in the NCAA Tournament. The sky is the limit for us.”
Tom Duffy can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TJDhoops.