After winning the 2017 NLL Defensive Player of the Year award, assistant captain Jason Noble followed up that campaign with his usual style of smart and fast defensive lacrosse.
“Noble’s obviously our best defender back there,” assistant coach Sean Ferris said. “Basically, he’s our first guy coming out of the gate all of the time. With J, he’s such a smart player, and he’s fast. You watch him, he wants to be at the door all the time, but he’s our smartest guy out there, too. You’ll see him be the first guy I send out the back door every time.”
Between his speed and smarts, Noble is able to handle the toughest assignments. The coaches never hesitate to send him out to face an opposing team’s best player.
The Cornell University alum is usually good for a goal a season, but he doesn’t normally take shots if he doesn’t think the opportunity is there and a quality one. After shooting a career-high 11 times in 2017, Noble kept that stick in check last season and never rattled a shot off.
Stats like that make it seem like Noble didn’t follow up his award-winning 2017 season very well. No goals or shots and his lowest loose ball and caused turnover totals of his career. But one can’t just rely on the stat sheet for certain things, especially where defense is concerned.
What we can rely on is what we saw all season: a guy listed at 5’10” and 165 pounds square up on guys as good five or six inches taller and 40 pounds bigger and become their nightmare for the next 60 minutes.
“He’s 5’10”, but he plays like he’s 6’10” out there,” Ferris said. “He plays a foot taller. He’s vocal with our guys out there, too, leads by example.”
2017-18 may have been a different season for Noble, but the mission was the same: shut down opponents, prevent them from getting the ball, and be part of a strong leadership core.
Noble defending Poulin | Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
If the ball rolled into a corner and Noble was in a race to get it, more often than not, he went to press an opposing player into the boards and allow another Swarm defender to get the ball instead.
It’s part of why his loose ball numbers sit at 48. He was forcing opponents to get the ball away from him. When he did get the ball, Noble held onto it, posting his lowest turnover numbers since his rookie season in 2014.
As aggressive as Noble is when he plays, he played some of the cleanest lacrosse of his career. With only 22 minutes in the box (11 minor penalties throughout 18 games), Noble found that sweet spot of physicality that minimized his time off for defensive shifts. He only had one game all season where he was called for two penalties and didn’t earn a single major penalty all season, the first time that’s happened since his rookie season.
It’s just another example of a veteran Swarm player using his experience to make smart lacrosse moves to help the team out however best he can.
What a Hit:
Early in the game against the Saskatchewan Rush on April 14, Tor Reinholdt was transitioning down the floor and made a long pass to Jeff Cornwall closer to the net. The pass was high, and Cornwall couldn’t catch it, but he did manage to get the ball down near him. Noble was set to guard Cornwall and immediately moved to prevent him from getting the ball. The assistant captain checked Cornwall so hard that he fell into Chad Tutton and knocked him down as well. A scrum for the ball ensued with Cornwall coming away with it, but he got turned around by Lyle Thompson, and Noble checked him again, dislodging the ball and putting him slightly off balance for Tutton to knock him down again for the second time in 10 seconds.
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