Noticed or not, Anthony Clemmons proud of his defense

Chad Leistikow
Iowa's Anthony Clemmons hounds Michigan State's Bryn Forbes during their game Dec. 29 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes beat Michigan State twice by a combined 29 points.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — After falling short of his stated preseason goal of making the Big Ten Conference’s all-defense team, Iowa guard Anthony Clemmons felt he had nothing to hang his head about.

He knows internally that he was one of the league’s best defenders, awards or (in this case) not.

“I’m happy with how I said my remarks,” he said Tuesday, “and what I did throughout the season. I’m happy.

“A lot of people have got their own opinions. I know what I’m capable of, and I know what I can do.”

The 14 Big Ten coaches voted Purdue’s A.J. Hammons the league’s defensive player of the year, and Boilermakers teammate Rapheal Davis, Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff joined him on the five-man defensive team.

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Though Clemmons didn’t have the steal numbers of Happ and Ferrell, or the blocks of Hammons and Uthoff, or the reputation of Davis (who won last year’s top defensive honor), there was no denying the 6-foot-2 Clemmons' impact on the defensive end.

There's a reason Iowa swept third-ranked Michigan State in two meetings this season. Clemmons held second-team all-Big Ten Spartans guard Bryn Forbes to five points (2.5 average) on 1-of-10 shooting. In Forbes' other 16 league games, he averaged 17.5 points. Clemmons was a defensive nuisance for Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn, Maryland’s Melo Trimble and others, too.

“He definitely should’ve been on the all-defensive team,” fellow Hawkeye guard Mike Gesell said. “He’s one of the best defensive guards in the country.”

But, as Clemmons put it: "If it doesn’t get noticed outside, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t get noticed inside.”

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery took the diplomatic approach to the awards, which were announced Monday. Clemmons was the only Hawkeye starter that did not get honored; Uthoff was first team, Peter Jok second team and Gesell and Adam Woodbury were honorable mention.

“I would have liked to have seen him get some recognition because I think he deserves it,” McCaffery said. “But I think the people that did get recognized also deserve it.”