Byron Scott Tells Kyrie Irving to Focus on Defense, ‘Relax’ on Offense

by January 04, 2012

The top draft pick is pressing on the offensive end of the floor, and his coach Byron Scott wants the talented rookie to relax, and put his energies into stopping the opponent instead. Per the Charlotte Observer: “I told him, just relax and not worry about the offense. Just be aggressive defensively,’ Scott said Tuesday morning at the team’s training facility. ‘He’s doing a good job, just not such a good job offensively. I still have all the faith in the world in him. Play hard at the defensive end, and the offense will get better.’ Irving entered Tuesday night’s matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats shooting 39 percent from the field. He knew this would be a challenge, jumping to the NBA after just a handful of college games since he missed much of his freshman season at Duke with a foot injury. But he’s convinced he made the right choice, and that was partially about the bar coach Mike Krzyzewski set last season. “Coach K taught me how to be a professional – he runs a professional program. From our travel to our workouts,’ Irving said. ‘With coach Scott, our first practice was three hours. It was tough, but I was used to it. We had three-hour practices almost every day with Coach K. Coach K lets you know it’s going to be tough before the season ever starts. Once you get there and get used to it, it carries over to whatever level you go to.’ Irving left college basketball, but he never left Duke. When the NBA lockout dragged into the fall, he returned to Durham as a full-time student. He completed the fall semester and had the side benefit of high-quality pickup games. Irving and Nolan Smith would scrimmage against the current Blue Devils regularly. That kept him sharp through a time when the entire NBA season was in doubt. Cramming a 66-game season into a 123-day window has made the transition to the NBA a bit more challenging for rookies. Bobcats coach Paul Silas recently noticed Kemba Walker looking worn down, and had to remind himself the Bobcats would play 10 games within 14 days – equivalent to a third of a college season. ‘It’s a different pace,’ Irving said. ‘People try to compare the NBA to college basketball. It’s incomparable. Such quicker decisions, games (played) back-to-back. And that’s especially so for me. I haven’t played on a consistent basis for nine months (because of the injury and the lockout). I’m just getting back.’ That explains why Irving’s coach keeps offering that simple reminder: Chill out.”