Joakim Noah hasn’t had much of an on-court impact but his college coach believes that will change.
Rockville Centre’s Billy Donovan, who won two national championships while coaching Noah at Florida, said Noah will make his presence felt eventually.
“He’s got incredible heart,” said Thunder coach and Rockville Centre product Billy Donovan. “He understands how to pull a group of guys together for the sake of winning. That’s all he’s about is winning. Nothing else matters to him. I’ve always admired that about him.”
Noah is averaging 4.0 points and 8.1 rebounds and has had four scoreless games. “I know me personally, I have to play better for this team to get to where we want to get to,” he said.
Donovan said Noah can’t be measured by stats. “He’s going to continue to improve and get better as a player, he’s going to put his work in,” he said. “But he’s one of the guys in my opinion that’s truly all about sacrifice, team and winning. I think he’ll bring that to the Knicks throughout the entire season.”
Welcome home, Billy
Donovan was greeted outside the visitor’s locker room by a photo from his 44-game NBA playing career, all with the Knicks. Oklahoma assistant coach Maurice Cheeks was in the foreground of the shot from the 1987-88 season and Donovan was in the background. “Cheeks was a much, much better player than I was,” Donovan said. “He may deserve to be up there. I probably don’t.”
Both men were sporting the short shorts that were in vogue at the time. Donovan was asked if he thought they might come back in style. “Probably not,” he said. “I hope not. Hopefully it’s out of style for a long time.”
Donovan expected to have a sizable contingent of fans at the Garden. “There’ll be a lot of friends that will come,” he said. “My immediate family, most or all are moved out now. I do have relatives that still live here and my wife’s side of the family is still here, so there’s obviously a strong connection here in New York for myself and our family.”
High pain tolerance
Reserve swingman Justin Holiday has a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, but he said it’s not affecting his shooting. Holiday, who had four points in 15 minutes last night, said he feels it if he’s hit on either shoulder but plans to play through it: “It’s just pain, not that big of a deal.”
Lance Thomas missed his eighth straight game because of a bone bruise in his right foot and plantar fasciitis in both feet. Jeff Hornacek said he is riding the bike and shooting and could practice soon. “We’re probably not too far off from that part of it,” he said. “Playing-wise, we’ll just have to see.”