Milwaukee Bucks guard/forward David Noel was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and answer ten of my questions recently. Thanks, David!
Alex: As an NBA rookie last year, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced adjusting from the college game?
David Noel: Some of the biggest challenges I faced that were different from the college game were just the length of the game and going from 40 to 48 minutes is a big jump. Then also the three-point line. I was never really a three-point shooter but wanted to add that to my game so that was a big adjustment. Last but not least just playing 82 games. And all the travel.
Alex: Michael Redd and Mo Williams were both second-round picks, and Charlie Bell wasn’t drafted at all. Each of them emerged in their second season in the NBA. As a second-round pick entering your second year, what is it like having star teammates that were in a similar situation to yours not long ago?
David Noel: It’s great having those guys on the team because it gives me someone to look up to. In this case I have three guys I can look up to. And to see their success in the NBA is great and I’m just praying that I can be just as blessed those guys are today.
Alex: You got a chance to play a lot last April, when you averaged over 22 minutes per game. And when you finally got starter’s minutes (36) on April 11 against the Pacers, you had 18 points on 7-10 shooting along with five rebounds and three assists. How high is your confidence heading into the new season?
David Noel: Very high, I can’t wait to get started. I just want to do anything I can to help this team win games. So if I can score, I want to do that. Rebound, I want to do that. Cheer from the bench, I’ll do that. Just as long as when I step on the court I’m giving my all I’m being productive. That’s all I can ask from myself.
Alex: You’re playing in a division with the top three teams (Pistons, Bulls, Cavaliers) in the conference from last year. And a lot of teams in the East have improved, making the playoff picture very crowded. What goals do you have as a team this year?
David Noel: Very high goals. We expect to make the playoffs. Nothing less. And as a team we want to protect home court and give our fans something to cheer for all year.
Alex: Why should other teams worry about playing the Bucks when they come to the Bradley Center?
David Noel: Just like I started in the last answer, because we want to protect our home. This is our house and no one is going to beat us here. That’s the attitude that we are going to have all year. That way we can give our fans something to cheer for and they can become our sixth man when we need them to be.
Alex: You have a reputation as a strong defensive player, and the Bucks have added players this offseason like Desmond Mason with defense in mind. Do you think as a team you will improve defensively?
David Noel: Yes, we have no choice but to if we want to win games. We didn’t do a great job last year on that end so we are preaching it a little more this year and hopefully guys will buy into it for all 82 games, not just the first ten.
Alex: Do you still talk to any of your teammates from your North Carolina national championship team that are in the NBA like Rashad McCants, Sean May, Raymond Felton, or Marvin Williams?
David Noel: Yes, all the time, and when I go to their city or they come to Milwaukee we always get up and do something. Just that family type thing we have at UNC.
Alex: Are there any teams or players in particular that you are looking forward to playing against this season?
David Noel: Always Charlotte and Atlanta because of the Carolina guys that I played with. Other than that I think I can’t wait to play Boston, not only because of what they added but because another one of the Carolina guys that I played with is with them now. His name is Jackie Manuel.
Alex: Who were your basketball idols when you were growing up?
David Noel: I like Grant Hill and Ray Allen... Another reason I want to play Boston too. (Laughs)
Alex: At North Carolina, you won the college slam dunk contest. A couple of the NBA’s most famous dunk contest winners are North Carolina alums, Michael Jordan and Vince Carter. Would you like to follow in their footsteps and take a shot at the NBA’s dunk contest this year?
David Noel: That would be great and hopefully I will be blessed with that shot one day. The only thing is I think I’ve run out of dunks. So I might need to call those guys to get some ideas. (Laughs)