The Vanderbilt portion of the postgame press conference was ending. One more question, the room was informed. So somebody submitted an inquiry open to any of the three Commodore players sitting at the table, and it was about the game of keep-away that had earlier broken out between Kevin Stallings and Joakim Noah.
"I'll take that one," said Vandy junior Ross Neltner.
|This is the side of Joakim Noah many don't often get to see. (Getty Images)|
It was boring.
But then Neltner changed directions, like a verbal crossover dribble.
He started speaking about Noah.
He didn't stop for a while.
"I was talking to people before the game and they were like, 'Man, give Noah an elbow for me because I don't like that guy,'" Neltner said. "Everybody doesn't like him, but I've got to commend him because even in the face of defeat with one minute left before they got subbed out on the free throw line he just said, 'Nice game. Way to hoop. Way to ball. Good luck the rest of the season.' ... So I've really got to commend him for the way he reacted."
That's one Noah story.
I've got a bunch more just like it.
Pieced together they paint a picture of college basketball's most-recognizable figure far different than the picture most college basketball fans possess -- particularly non-Florida fans who watch Noah swipe at the pom-pom of a Kentucky cheerleader or get into that altercation with Stallings and label him an arrogant and spoiled bad guy.
You see a Miss Sweden for a mom, and you hate it.
You see a French Open champion for a dad, and you hate it.