We’ve been told not to do it, but we just can’t help ourselves. The question keeps being asked; who’s a better defender, Nerlens Noel or Anthony Davis? This discussion, of course, has been amplified ever since Nerlens decided to reject 12 shots against Ole Miss, pulling ahead of Davis’ record block pace. Everyone seems to have an opinion too. While some think Noel is the better defender and others say Davis was superior, you’ll rarely find someone without a take on the subject. Include Nicole Auerbach and Eric Prisbell in that conversation as well. Recently, the pair hosted USA Today’s college basketball mailbag, answering the most pressing questions from college basketball fans via Twitter. When asked to speak their mind on the Davis v. Noel debate, Auerbach and Prisbell reached a clear consensus on who they thought was the better defender.
Auerbach on Davis v. Noel:
I know Nerlens Noel’s shot-blocking numbers are ahead of Anthony Davis’ at this point in the season and Noel was incredible the other night playing with four fouls against Ole Miss, BUT I’m leaning Davis anyway. Davis was in his opponents’ heads all the time. He told me last season, “A lot of guys don’t drive to the lane as much as they would against a normal team. … A lot of teams do approach us differently knowing that I’m back there.” And we saw that a lot last season. I’m sure opponents game plan for Noel and he’s in their minds, too, but because Kentucky’s defense on the whole is weaker, it’s not the same impact.
Prisbell on the debate:
Well, it’s a good, intriguing question. Mr. Flat-top is an excellent shot blocker. But I look at Anthony Davis as a once-in-a-generation shot blocker. I sat courtside for UK’s final nine games last season and, in the SEC tourney, wrote about one play that I remember clear as day. Florida’s Erving Walker drove and had a clear path to the basket against Kentucky. He had a layup in the bank. But he did not know where Davis and his 7-4 wing span lurked. So instead of attempting the layup, Walker flipped the ball back out for what turned out to be an errant three-point shot. Afterward, Florida’s Billy Donovan simply said, “There has never been a shot blocker like him.”
Both writers had more to say on the subject, but judging from these statements, they’ve clearly made up their minds. If you’re interested in seeing the rest of their comments or reading the college basketball mailbag, it can be found here.
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