Seeing the leader of the pack
AND GOING AND GOING...Mustang guard Brendan Noonan was a member of the national championship team of 1991 and has been an integral part of Western's lineup this season
By Stuart Waldman
Brendan Noonan will never win any slam dunk contests, he will never show sprinter-esque speed and he will never be viewed as a natural basketball talent. Yet somehow the five-foot, 10-inch starting point guard for the Mustang basketball team has thrived in this, his fifth and final season with Western.
Noonan attended high school at Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto, a well-known basketball powerhouse. It was with Oakwood in 1990 that Noonan came to Alumni Hall for the OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations) basketball championship. Although a heartbreaking two-point loss in the finals devastated him, the great atmosphere at Alumni and strong family ties to London led to his ultimate decision to attend Western.
Noonan's rookie year was perhaps his most memorable one as the Mustangs won the 1991 national championship. Although playing time was hard to come by for him, learning was not.
"I have a lot of respect for Dave Ormored, the point guard when we won the nationals," Noonan said. "He taught me a lot about toughness, how to distribute the ball and how to dig in on defence."
It was this toughness that allowed Noonan to play the 1993 and 1994 seasons with back problems, capturing the Bob Gage trophy as the hardest-working player both years.
After two years off, the first as an assistant coach for the Mustangs and the second on exchange in Australia earning his teaching degree, head coach Craig Boydell was ready to invite Noonan back as coach. However, Boydell was thrilled when Noonan announced he wanted to suit up again.
"Brendan gives us really solid leadership, both by experience and by example," said Boydell.
It is this leadership, along with Noonan's tremendous work ethic which earned him co-captaincy of the team along with Blake Gage.
"He is simply our hardest worker and most enthusiastic player," Boydell said. "He makes it enjoyable just to come to practice."
Noonan is most noted as a persistent man-to-man defender. This was most evident in his six-steal performance against McMaster earlier this season.
However, Boydell has asked more of Noonan this year, specifically to shoot the ball more. Noonan has responded with accurate three-point shooting which has opened up the middle for forwards Chris Webber and Nigel Rollins.
Joe Dumars of the Detroit Pistons has often been referred to as the glue that kept and keeps the Pistons running. Other stars such as Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer captured the spotlight but it was Dumars who quietly pushed and led the team he never stopped working. Likewise Brendan Noonan is Western's glue.