[Moderated by Matt Jones]
It’s pretty clear, or at least should be pretty clear (if it’s not, you’ve probably been watching the wrong team), that Nerlens Noel has turned things up a few notches since SEC play began, with the most noticeable differences coming from his play on the defensive end of the court. His ten points, eight rebounds, six blocks, and one steal in yesterday’s win over LSU only continues a stretch of dominating performances from The Flattop’ed Feller that have been some of, if not the biggest driving forces behind the Cats’ recent victories. But how does Nerlens’ defensive play stack up against the NCAA’s best? Let’s find out.
This is the area where Nerlens needs the most work, even though .3 rebounds per game separate him from being tied at No. 20 and his 6.6 defensive rebounds per game are higher than twelve players ahead of him on this list. Still, though, 32nd in the country is not bad at all.
I hadn’t looked into Nerlens’ pick-pocketing abilities until it was mentioned during a game broadcast (I can’t remember which game) that he led the team in steals. I was impressed then and I’m way beyond impressed now to see the 6’10 freshman forward tied for 15th in the country in steals per game. The fact that he’s beating out guards across the country speaks volumes of the kid’s athleticism and only adds another weapon to his defensive arsenal.
I saved the best for last. The shot-blocking ability of Noel has got people talking like he’s best at his trade Kentucky has ever seen. That’s a bold statement to make, especially considering the fact that we’re less than a year removed from Anthony Davis breaking the school’s single-season block record. Regardless, Nerlens has been putting on a swatting clinic of late, with five-straight games totaling over five blocks. Now tied for second in the country, hopefully the big guy doesn’t let the block party, or the rest of his high-quality defensive play, die down anytime soon.
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