The Byrd Cage

A Byrd Cage Exclusive: The Trevor Noack Interview

In Game Posts on February 4, 2013 at 8:37 am


This is the second installment of our 2013 Bruin Interview series we’re calling ‘Byrd Brains’. Get it? You get it. 

At this point in the season we all feel like we’ve got a good grasp on the identity of the 2013 Bruins. They’re a defensively minded, pick and roll, shoot the lights out team. With that in mind, the enduring  story here at Belmont is Coach Byrd’s sustained ability to make seemingly less-than-ideally constructed teams run like a hemi. 

This morning I was watching a CBS special on Don Shula. The theme of the piece revolved around Shula’s ability to coach at such a high level for such a long time despite the limitless permutations of players dealt to him over the years. Naturally, I started drawing comparisons to Coach Byrd. While the similarities fall apart in a few places I think it’s there. Sustained excellence, steady philosophy, work ethic of a mennonite, and a standard of excellence that leaves everyone else sort of dumbfounded. (To make the comparison more complete we have to get 440 renamed ‘The Rick Byrd Parkway’ . . just kidding. I’m not kidding).

But of course (as previously noted elsewhere) what’s more remarkable in our age is his ability to do it the RIGHT way  –  and with success. When I’m lucky enough to sit down with some of the Bruins – I can’t help but think of how much better off all these guys are on a human level for having played for the Byrd man.  Plain and simple you can’t make the Byrd system work unless you legitimately figure out how to not just be unselfish – but to enjoy doing it. Trevor, aka The Hay Bailer – in both demeanor and play is no exception to the standard. His calm, quaint, and determined demeanor  – along with the way he thinks about the game just screams out Coach Byrd in the best way possible.

All that said I ran some weird questions by him. Check it out.

January 28, 2013 – Curb Event Center

Trevor Noack = TN
Byrd Cage = BC

[ NOTE: I walked into the Curb Event Center and a few players and Coach Byrd are doing interviews. Ian is practicing his 3 on one hoop, CBrad and Coach Strong are shooting on another, JJ attempting a dunk . . .  I shook it off and met up with Trevor]

BC: Just curious – have you ever read our blog?

TN: I have not . . .

BC: Ahhhhh Alright. Well, we’ll have to send you a link . .  Anyway, coming into the season it seemed like rebounding was going to be a big issue for you guys with Mick & Scott gone. It seemed to be something Coach kept mentioning. However, the team has done a pretty decent job rebounding and actually, turnovers have sort of surprisingly become an issue. Has this become more of a topic of conversation at practice?

TN: Well, the big thing about the OVC is that a lot teams are high pressure. So that’s just going to cause some turnovers by itself and its really just about taking care of the ball. We’re just solid on passing so that’s the reason that we have some of those turnovers just because we stop being solid. We’re trying to be aggressive and sometimes we get over aggressive.

BC: So what about rebounding – were you guys really focused on that coming into the season? You seem to be doing really well.

TN: Well we’ve had our ups and downs. I mean its really just about team rebounding. When our team defense is doing great like in the last Eastern Kentucky game. Our team defense was pretty good there and we rebounded the ball pretty decently.

BC: Do you think facing seven footers Jeff Withey (Kansas) and DJ Haley (VCU) early on in the season helped prepare you to battle the OVC’s big men in conference play? Or had you already gotten comfortable at the 5 by then?

TN: I mean playing against those guys is never easy. We have Chad but still, there’s that certain aspect that’s hard to prepare for: just being big. Playing against them absolutely helped prepare me for these guys in the OVC. The biggest difference is these guys in the OVC are more athletic.

BC: The Byrd Cage guys wanted me to ask you if you played the 5 in high school because your performance this year certainly suggests you’ve had some experience.

TN: Yeah I did. I [played] in high school.

BC: Is that what you were hoping to do at the collegiate level?

TN: No, I was actually recruited to play the 4 position.

BC: Were you excited to get back down there this season with Mick and Scott gone or were you apprehensive about it?

TN: I wasn’t apprehensive about it but I wasn’t excited about it.

BC: Really?

TN: It was kind  of one of those things that was by committee and I knew what I had to do. So I accepted it. It’s not like I was trying to reject the role. It was what I had to do to help the team.

BC: What about having Drew Windler around in practice. Has he been able to give you any 5 position pointers in practice?

TN: Oh yeah Drew is a great player. Playing against him in practice helps me because he’s like an OVC big man. He’s very athletic, he’s long, he runs the floor great, he shoots the ball well from the outside so it’s like guarding a guard that’s a five man.

BC: His situation is pretty tragic. It would have been interesting had he been eligible to play this year.

TN: Oh yeah it would have made a great addition to the team.

BC: In the second half of the first EKU game you gave Mike DiNunno a pretty hard foul on a break-away steal. Is he the most obnoxious player you’ve faced this year? I think I saw him yelling at fans multiple times throughout the night . . .

TN: I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention. I didn’t give him a hard foul for any other reason – not because of him talking  – I mean he just got a break away and he was wide open. I went for the block and I just happened to hit him pretty hard.

BC: The guys at the blog have given you the nickname ‘The Hay Bailer’ . . .

TN: Yeah.

BC: . . . in part because of your Texas origins and in other part because you’re probably the strongest player the bruins have seen since Boomer [it’s worth noting here that I actually said ‘Boomer’ in the Arnold Schwarzenegger voice I use in casual conversation when talking about Boomer. You know: ‘BOOM-UH’]. Here’s the quote that birthed the nickname from a running diary of last January’s Lipscomb game that Jono did for the Byrdcage. AND I QUOTE:

“A few notable substitutions early in this one. Trevor Noack, who I affectionately call the Hay Bailer. I think this may be more of a stereotype because he is from Texas. It’s just that he doesn’t look weight-lifting yoked, it looks like he’s thrown around hay bails for 20 years yoked. That is all.”

What do you think of that nickname? We’re looking for your blessing here . . .

TN: Absolutely. Personally, I like it. It’s kind of funny to me – it made me laugh when I heard it.

BC: WHO TOLD YOU ABOUT IT?? I thought you hadn’t read the blog?

TN: Well I haven’t read the blog. I heard about it from one of the former players who I guess had heard about it or read about it. I laughed when I heard it and thought it was a pretty good nickname.

BC: Awesome. Everyone will be excited to hear that. Feel free to use it as your Twitter handle.

TN: Ok.

BC: Alright back to business.  I talked to Kerron a couple weeks ago and I asked him about what Coach Byrd most often gets on to him about when he’s coming off the court. He talked about over penetrating and trying to do too much on his own. What about you? What does Coach ride your horse about most often?

TN: Oh man that’s a good question. There’s several different things but there’s two things that really stick out in my mind. On defense, when my man sets a ball screen, {I’m supposed} to get my hands up and prevent passes from going up over the top. The other one is when I set ball screens {I’m supposed} to roll hard all the way to the goal.

BC: That was one of my questions for you today. At the last hoop hour Coach Byrd talked about Baker rolling harder off ball screens than you. On the other hand, he also mentioned that you have the ability to step back [off the screen] and shoot it from the deep end. Is that part of your tendency to not roll so hard?

TN: It can be but its more of bad habit. I mean yeah I am used to – the past three years the majority of the ball screens I’ve set – I’ve popped out on but that’s not an excuse. I definitely need to do better at. That’s something I need to work on.

BC: This Murray State game coming up is going to be pretty big. Have you guys begun talking about that matchup at all?

TN: No we really just take care of one game at a time. We do the scouting for the next game and then we just take care of one game at a time. But we do keep up with stuff – with how Murray State is doing and how the other teams – Eastern Kentucky is doing – that kind of thing. So we keep up with that knowing that those kinds of games are coming up.

BC: Newcomer Tyler Hadden looks to be the 5 man of the future for the Bruins. In the last hoop hour Coach talked about Tyler’s need to get faster and stronger. Have you got to see him play?

TN: Uh I’m not really sure. I think I got to see him and play with him a little bit.

BC: I know there’s probably a lot of guys coming in and out of here.

TN: Yeah that was probably a while ago too.

BC: As you guys enter the second half of conference play undefeated – it’s public knowledge that you guys can’t really afford a loss if you want an 11 or 12 seed should you win the conference tournament. Is that as much pressure as its sounds like?

TN: It’s definitely a goal to not lose a game. I mean nobody wants to lose a game. Its not going to be the end of the world if we do happen to lose a game. That Morehead State game [the first one, @Morehead State] was a close game and one of the worst games we’ve played all year as far as being ready. Coach Byrd had our game plan and I feel like that one was on the players. We won the game. Probably shouldn’t have.

BC: I can’t believe you guys did.

TN: But we pulled it out and kind of rallied in the second half. We came back and kind of picked it up. We managed to pull out a win and I feel like that’s going to help focus us for the rest of the season. We’re treating that one like a loss.

BC: What was Coach Byrd saying to you guys throughout that game? The team was always like 6 or 7 points behind. Did he have some sort of theme throughout the game telling you guys to stay with it?

TN: You know it wasn’t really ‘stay with it’ as much as . . .


TN: Yeah it was ‘Get it going you need to concentrate.’ That game was a lot of mental for us as far as not being ready. I feel like if we treat that one like a loss, like I know we have been – I mean we had a great practice today, we obviously bounced back for that Eastern Kentucky game . . . I mean if we treat that one like a loss and really learn from that and be really mentally ready everytime we come out we’ll be a lot better.

BC: Yeah you guys kind of needed some gut check games like that to keep the pressure on.

TN: Yeah.

BC: Finally, can you empirically verify that Ian Clark is in fact a human and not a robot  and/or Alien of the Space Jam variety? Dude has been lights out for 21 straight games.

TN: I mean he’s ridiculous. He’s probably the best pure shooter I think I’ve ever seen. He’s the exact opposite of what a pure shooter would be. Like he’s not just a spot-up shooter. He can drive to the basket, he can shoot pull-up jump shots, he’s great in transition, he’s extremely athletic, extremely quick, I mean he’s got it all.

BC: Did you know that as of the game on Saturday night he leads the country in true shooting percentage?

TN: I know he was up there and I know his 3pt% is up there too.

BC: When he and Kerron penetrate into the paint how do you balance preparing yourself for a quick dish and/or boxing out your guy. Those passes seem to come pretty fast/unexpectedly. Are those plays or spontaneous dishes?

TN: No they’re just spontaneous dishes. These guys, both Ian and Kerron, and really all of the guys that drive it – they’re good enough passers that they can usually put it in my chest or somewhere close and I can get my hands on it. there’s a lot of times that those things do come quick. I’ve had some that they’ve hit my chest before I can get my hands on it so I just kind of have to trap it and go up with it. They’re extremely good passers. When they drive down the lane, I have complete confidence that either they’re going to score it or kick it out for a three pointer or dump it off or something like that, you know? They’re going to make a good play.


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