Byron Scott is Equal Parts Encouraged and Surprised by the Brand of Team Basketball his Young Cleveland Cavaliers are PlayingJanuary 20, 2012 – 7:20 am by Eric Schmoldt
Heading into year two of the post-LeBron James rebuilding era, the Cleveland Cavaliers were supposed to just be in rebuilding mode and not factor much, if at all, in the competitive landscape of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Sure, the Cavaliers are definitely trying to build for the future, but they appear to be a lot further along in the process than many probably expected after turning in the league’s worst record in 2010. Heck, even coach Byron Scott expected the team would need much more time than this before jelling like they have in the early stages of the 2011-2012 season.
The Cavs enter Thursday night’s game with Chicago with just a 6-7 record, but they do so with a roster chock full of players no more than 25 years of age. Their leading scorer and point guard, Kyrie Irving, is just 19. Still, despite the inexperienced collection of youth, Scott says the chemistry is developing nicely and well ahead of schedule considering the circumstances.
Byron Scott joined 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland with Kiley and Booms to discuss his no-excuses approach to coaching the young Cavaliers who finished with the league’s worst record in 2010-2011, his disdainful faces on the sidelines when one of his players resorts to the type of individual or sloppy play that he’s been preaching against, what he looks for in a young team when trying to assess whether it’s moving in the right direction, why he’s surprised the team came together so quickly, where Kyrie Irving needs to improve, and his biggest lesson he’s learned in the coaching profession prior to his current gig in Cleveland.
Is the no-excuses approach just you as a person or you as a coach or a combination?:
“I think it’s just me. I’ve never had excuses as a player. One of our mottoes when I played with the Lakers, and I found this out my rookie year from Magic and those guys, when you put that purple and gold on, there’s no excuses. I don’t want to hear that you’re hurt, you’re sick, you’ve got family problems. It’s no excuses, and I want that same attitude here with my players. They got to see that with me first.”
We can watch a game with the sound off and just look at you and know how the game is going. Are you aware of the looks you give?:
“I think it just happens. I’m not aware of it. The one thing I’ve always tried to pride myself in is trying to keep it all inside until halftime and then most of the time at halftime I explode.”
When you have a young team like this, what are the signs that you look for that the team is headed in the right direction?:
“I think attitude is the first sign. Like you said, the first thing that you want to make sure they understand that there’s no excuses, that we expect to be good no matter what outsiders or anyone else thinks about us. That’s the type of attitude you have to have from Day One. … I think the next thing for me is camaraderie. I think if you have a team that really truly enjoys being around each other and they’re practicing and playing on the road together and going out to dinner together and things like that, I’ve always said that you can give me a team with good talent but great chemistry and we’ll win. I think we’re headed toward that.”
Did you see it coming that these guys would jell like this?:
“No, I didn’t see it coming this early. That’s one of the things that you hope as a coach that you have that type of camaraderie and chemistry and you hope it happens sooner than later. But even that long road trip, I came down to go to dinner with a friend of mine and I saw five guys down there waiting on Andy. … It was that that told me these guys are starting to understand what team is all about.”
If you could make one improvement in Kyrie Irving’s game right now what would it be?:
“Defense. That’s a big part of what we do and it starts with the point guard. As we keep telling him, he’s the head of the snake. We’re going to go as well as he goes. Sometimes that’s a lot of pressure for most point guards. For a 19-year-old, that’s really a lot of pressure. I’m really staying on him about the defensive end of the game. … I know it will come in time, there’s no doubt about that, especially as we go on in the season. … He’s a young kid that’s really smart, has a great basketball IQ and you don’t have to tell him things too many times.”
In all your experiences playing and coaching, is there one lesson that is prominent or one person that taught you the biggest lessons that is foremost in your mind?:
“I learned it in New Jersey. From a coaching standpoint, you have to be able to communicate with these guys and you have to be open. There’s still a lot of players to this day that are scared to talk to their head coach. They’ll talk to their assistant coaches all day about what they’re feeling and what’s going on. … I try to keep my door open. Communication is very, very important, especially in this day and time.”