Film Session: Noah Vonleh hits the glass

  • 01/28/2014 8:05 am in

Noah Vonleh was credited with 14 boards during Sunday’s win against the Illini. The freshman used his long arms, big hands, strength and instincts to outmaneuver Illinois on the defensive glass — often when he didn’t have a positional advantage — and hold them to zero second-chance points on the afternoon.

A supercut of all 14 boards are above. We’ll examine four of his most impressive boards after the jump in the latest edition of Film Session:

Vonleh is behind Kendrick Nunn and boxed out:


But Vonleh supermans to corral the ball as Nunn backs up to try and keep away from it:


Vonleh ends up falling to the floor and the foul is called on Nunn:



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  • MillaRed

    One thing I noticed about Noah is he is not afraid to move people around in the paint. You can’t teach strength, and Noah has it.

    Let’s get some blood pumping this morning. Noah has far less to work with in terms of support, and I think he is better than Cody Zeller as a FR. And will be an NBA player. And I’m not talking about “what his recruitment meant to the program.” I’m talking about his ability to play basketball.

    Let the debate begin!

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    What’s amazing about Vonleh is that he’s resetting how I thought proper rebounding should be done. Normally a lot of us fans harp on positioning and executing correct box-outs, but three of the examples here were Noah getting the board when he was stuck on the short end of positioning. Yet he still got it. His physical talent is amazing in that regard, but it’s also inducing a dissonance in my mind because he’s doing it **in spite of** his positioning, not because of it.

    No, that’s not some backhanded criticism of Noah. Rather it’s introspection regarding what I thought a rebounder should do near the basket. He’s getting the rebounds, plain and simple, and what I thought big men should do in the blocks is getting reset because of it. There’s an element to his rebounding game that I’m just lost on, and I’m going to be replaying a lot of videos to see what I can figure out from it.

    Wow. We are seriously going to miss him when he’s gone. Badly. The young man rebounds like a machine.

  • Blair McKee

    That’s great basketball! Especially how Indiana needs to be dominant inside to make up for their lack of Jordy outside. Vonleh is just what the doctor ordered.

  • HoosierFan76

    Noah vs. Cody is apples to oranges – their body type and style of play is completely different. Noah is most definitely a better rebounder, but Cody was a better scorer. Noah has more overall potential, but his game is much more raw at this point than Cody’s was. Cody came to B-town with some polish to his offensive game that Noah lacks, and Cody was really great at passing out of the double- or triple-team and reposting.

    I truly don’t know if I could say that either of them was better as a freshman. I like Noah more as a banger inside and I love how he cleans the glass, but Cody was far ahead of him offensively and in making a great pass to find the open man. Noah could still turn out to be a great offensive player because all the building blocks are there. He has a great shot from outside and can hit from just about anywhere, but he needs to get more automatic with what he’s going to do. As it is now, if he’s going to shoot from outside, he seems to think about it for a second or two before he does it. Sometimes it’s the same way with his post play. That kind of stuff won’t fly in the pros.

    Who would I rather have if I were picking in the NBA draft? Noah, definitely. He’s got much more potential and I think he’ll be a better player in the NBA than Cody will.

  • Hoosier heritage

    The dude is a beast. I can’t believe he could be playing high school ball right now.

  • Gregory Spera

    This is one way that this year’s team is better than last year’s team. I distinctly remember one problem with last year’s team was they would, to often, play great defense for 30 seconds, force the opposing team to take and miss a bad shot, and then give up the basket on an easy rebound put back. The only way this year’s team can win, is through defense and rebounding. Rebounding on the defensive end (no second chance baskets for Illinois) and rebounding all those bricks on the offensive end. It starts with Noah. He doesn’t have to depend on our “offense” *cough* to get him the ball. He doesn’t have to depend on his teammates to get him the ball. He gets the ball, all on his own.

  • danriggins

    He truly is impressive, but I wonder if he will be able to effectively rebound with poor positioning as well at the pro level as he does now. Right now he can rely on his superior size and strength, but such advantage will diminish at the next level. What do you think?

  • Hoosier Hall

    I agree here. Cody grew up in a basketball state and a basketball family. His bball IQ and scoring ability was higher but he may already be near his ceiling. Noah is more physically gifted and seems to have more potential. Love them both though. GO IU!

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    That’s just it. I think I’m misinterpreting something when I first think of his positioning as being “bad”. My point is that I don’t think I understand proper rebounding technique anywhere near as well as I thought I did. So I’m not sure I’ve correctly evaluated his positioning.

    I also hesitate to say that he’s been relying on superior size and strength. Certainly they’re components. But he hasn’t been that badly outsized in a lot of games he’s racked up double-digit rebounds in. Again: That’s why I want to find videos and go back over previous games.

    At the next level, most players advantages will diminish, but sheer skill can still come through. I actually think he could keep doing double-digits in the NBA; I just don’t see him doing it as consistently, and probably won’t be doing it at first when he’s still getting his strength and endurance up. After about a year or so, though… well, it’s hard to predict accurately how a player will develop, but it’s not out of bounds to extrapolate as best I can and say those physical tools are impressive enough to translate well.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    There are probably a bunch of high school centers and PFs who’re glad he’s moved on. Getting dominated can’t be a good feeling. 😀

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    Can’t teach “toughness” NH’s grit translates to any level of basketball..Cody has quickness and offensive skills..but his lack of toughness is hurting him at the pro level..NH is the better freshman in that aspect.

  • MillaRed

    Ha! Love the Hoosier love ITH. I dunno guys. Cody had 3 point shooters all around him and trust me, that opens up a lot.

    Apples to oranges? 2 IU power forwards playing the center position? I think the apples and oranges are the teams that surrounded them. Advantage Zeller – Big Time

    Noah is a better rebounder (Cody never reached the level of rebounding I thought he would), definitely a better shooter (regardless of what Cody was doing in practice), a better communicator as a FR (not sure Cody ever opened his mouth in year 1).

    To be fair, if Cody was not an Indiana native and you guys were forced to choose between the two, I think many would take Noah.

    Love them both. Wish they would have played together. Wow.

  • MillaRed

    Because he grew up in Indiana he has a higher basketball IQ. LOL. Love it!

  • CreamandCrimson

    I won’t be engaging in any kind of “debate” about who was better as a freshman but I thought it would be helpful to add the statistics for each…obviously, Noah has a smaller sample size and we’ll see how his numbers shift over the course of the rest of the season…
    Cody Zeller = 28.5 mpg, 15.5 ppg (62.3%), 6.6 rpg, 1 steal, block, assist and turnover per game.
    Noah Vonleh = 25 mpg, 12 ppg (53.6%), 9.6 rebounds, similar in other categories but Noah above 2 turnovers per game.

  • Moops

    I’d say Noah is clearly better than Cody on offense. Noah can score with his back to the basket, he is better on the boards, has a consistent jumper, has more range, and is at least as good from the stripe. Cody was good, but he also really benefited from the talent around him. Cody is probably a better passer, and probably ran the floor better than Noah — but those skills are really showcased when you have the type of talent around you that Cody had.

  • Hoosier Hall

    Not quite what I said, but if that’s how you interpreted… If I had to pick (in a draft or even pickup game) I’d still pick Noah. All I was trying to say was that Cody had been completely submerged in basketball most of his life, so the game knowledge was further along then Noah’s.

  • HoosierFan76

    Apples to oranges because Cody is a natural string bean who can’t hold weight on his frame, and is 7′ with a 6’10” wingspan and small-to-average hands for his height. Noah is a solid block of muscle at 6’10” with a 7’4″ wingspan and hands that engulf the basketball. Two completely different builds.

    Also apples to oranges, as you pointed out, because Cody played on a much better team and had more seasoned teammates around him.

    I still maintain that while Cody didn’t shoot from the perimeter as a freshman, his offensive game was more developed at that stage than Noah’s is. Noah’s rebounding presence/instincts are more developed now than Cody’s are likely to ever be. Cody’s footspeed and lateral agility may currently be better than Noah’s will ever be. Even though Cody had much better teammates, I still think that his ability to pass the ball back out when engulfed by multiple defenders was a somewhat underrated aspect of his game that Noah doesn’t seem to currently possess. Noah has better overall tools as a basketball player, and he’s working very hard to develop them. His ceiling immensely surpasses Cody’s. Once he can make his release more fluid from the perimeter and develop some high-post moves like Kevin McHale, he will be lethal offensively. He’s not there yet, though.

    Despite the fact that each of them are true power forwards who play(ed) center for IU, there are a lot of differences. I feel like I’m being pretty objective about all this and not holding any Indiana bias toward Cody. I already stated that if I had to pick one player, I’d take Noah, but their situations as Hoosier freshmen are too dissimilar to really state that one was clearly better than the other, IMO.

  • PDXHoosier

    He is a vacuum

  • PDXHoosier

    Personally I think Vonleh is way better than Cody. And i think Cody is great.

  • PDXHoosier

    On a lot of those plays he’s actually altering the shot, and then getting the rebound. Impressive.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    You’re not the only one. Could you imagine Vonleh crashing the boards, then finding Zeller on the outlet pass? OMG, IU would’ve had a fast break that would’ve turned heads.

  • MillaRed

    No I agree. I’m a Hoosier! Basketball minds think alike.

  • MillaRed

    Throw in the fact Cody had a trio of 1000 point scorers around him and those numbers might even out a little. I’m very impressed with what Noah is doing with such little help.

  • MillaRed

    Have to agree

  • CreamandCrimson

    As am I. Noah has exceeded any expectations I had of him coming into the season. I truly hope he stays for another season because I think a year of development for him and the rest of the returning roster plus the incoming talent could make for quite a special season. But I’d certainly understand if he ends up leaving.

  • IUJeff

    Cody’s post game was more polished that Noah’s was coming in. I’d have to think that and passing were the only areas that Cody had Noah beat in year 1.
    I like the intensity that Noah is starting to show. Letting guys know when they miss him posted up.

  • IUJeff

    Not sure I every saw Cody run the floor and sneak up behind a guard and knock the ball loose like Noah did last game.
    I think where the players are very similar is drive / determination. Both have the love of the game and desire to be great.

  • I actually remember Cody doing that sort of thing, plus a lot of other little things, often.

  • InTheMtns

    Cody actually did run up behind players and knock the ball loose a few times. In fact when Noah did it Sunday, it reminded me of the times when I’d seen Cody do it. I know you cheered when Cody did it, but just aren’t remembering it at the moment. You are spot on about them both having drive and determination.

  • InTheMtns

    As always, Ryan, nice job on the breakdown. And thanks for putting together the supercut of all 14. That was a lot of fun to watch!

  • MillaRed

    Cody was probably the best running big man in the country for two years.

  • 5_Banners

    Wow, love the stat. I really think Noah would benefit from staying another year, especially with his offensive game. But I definitely don’t blame him for leaving.

  • 5_Banners

    Ugh, I know. I specifically remember the Wisconsin games.

  • 5_Banners

    Yea I noticed that in the game. I would see him contest a shot then I would see a IU player fly through the air to grab the rebound…and it was Noah. Crazy. He’s relentless.

  • HoosierFan76

    It seemed to me that Cody had more toughness and grit as a freshman than he did as a sophomore, but that may have been because there was a little bit better supporting cast behind him if he got in foul trouble (Senior Tommy P. vs. Freshman HMP). It’s harder to take chances on getting fouls if you know that it’s crucial for the team that you be on the court as much as possible.

    I remember the home game against Illinois when Meyers Leonard threw Cody down as they were running back down the court. It was a punk move to say the least. Rather than react to it right away, Cody just got even – by outplaying him the rest of the game and finishing a particularly brutal layup through contact – the contact of Cody’s elbow meeting Leonard’s face. Let’s not forget the two matchups with Anthony Davis, either – it seemed that Cody got the better of Davis each time.

    I don’t think that Cody lacks grit and toughness fundamentally, he’s just skinny and has problems keeping weight on his frame, so he’s easier to throw around in the post. If you want to say who the better battler in the post is, I’d give that to Vonleh because he’s stronger and has a denser core muscle mass that makes him not as easy to budge.