Feb. 18, 2003
This story originally appeared in the Times Pucayune on Tuesday, February 18, 2003.
Reprinted by permission
By Fred Robinson
Tulane senior guard Byron Parker is usually one of the first players on the court for practice, diligently working to improve his shooting touch.
But when Parker enters a game, his attention quickly turns to defense.
Whenever there's a need to pressure the ball or harass an opposing guard, Parker is the player Green Wave coach Shawn Finney likes to call on.
"Byron brings energy, defense and enthusiasm," Finney said. "When he goes into a game, he changes the complexion of our team."
Parker, who is averaging just less than 14 minutes per game as a reserve, leads the Green Wave with 31 steals heading into tonight's Conference USA game against South Florida.
"My role right now is just to come in and cause havoc on the court, make an opponent speed up," Parker said. "I need to make some defensive plays, or get in the open court and make some easy transition buckets."
It is a special role that Parker plays, one that he thrives in.
"I've been able to accept my role and be the best at making defensive plays," Parker said. "I've always been one that likes to play defense, so it comes easy."
What gives Parker an edge on defense is his quickness and his leaping ability.
"Byron has phenomenal quickness," Finney said. "He can cover a lot of distance in a short time."
In last Saturday's game against Texas Christian he had two steals.
Parker, a 6-foot-2 native of Stone Mountain, Ga., spent two years at Tyler (Texas) Junior College, where he averaged 7.5 points and three steals.
"In high school and junior college I was known for playing defense, being an on-the-ball defender and anticipating the offensive player's next move," Parker said.
In addition to 31 steals, Parker has 38 rebounds (all but two on the defensive end) and 30 assists. He is averaging 2.5 points and his season high is 12 against Georgia Tech.
"Byron's a capable scorer, but we bring him in for defensive energy. I really like his role and what he brings to the table," Finney said. "He's bought into the team, and he's not worried about his ego. He has the attitude that he's going to do whatever it takes to help this team win."