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His new coach talks DeMarcus Cousins and maturity

Jan 13, 2012, 3:57 PM EDT

Keith Smart, DeMarcus Cousins AP

Somewhere near the top of the list of things Keith Smart has to do that his predecessor as coach of the Sacramento Kings (Paul Westphal) couldn’t do is build a good relationship with DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins is immensely talented but with an ego to match. He’s not loved in his own locker room, other teams around the league are wary. The talent was never in question, but he fell to No. 5 in the draft because of those concerns.

Smart made an interesting point about Cousins and growing up to the National Post (via Sactown Royalty).

“He’s 21. What was I doing at 21? I was in college with a demanding coach,” said Sacramento coach Keith Smart, who took over for Westphal. Smart played for Bobby Knight at the University of Indiana. “A lot of things that happened at 21 for me got corrected while I was in college. He has to do this in front of all the media and all the world in front of a pressured environment.”

In the world of problems, Cousins is not that big of one — he clashes with coaches but he’s not out getting arrested or in serious off-the court trouble. He works hard on the court — only Kevin Love has grabbed more offensive rebounds than him this season, he is third best on the list of percentage of rebounds grabbed when he is on the floor (only Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum grab a higher percentage of missed shots). Of course, he also leads the league in personal fouls and is 15th in turnovers despite not being a guard.

Smart sees his job as having to help Cousins mature, as Knight helped him mature. Tall order. But if he can do it, the Kings could be set in the middle for a decade with one of the best bigs in the league.

  1. illegalblues - Jan 13, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    i think he hits the nail on the head. when i was 21 i still threw video game controllers at the wall. cousins ain’t a bad guy, he’s just a kid.

  2. jlyer - Jan 13, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    As talented as he is, just another inflated ego in the NBA.

  3. brooklynbulls - Jan 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Dismissing and excusing Cousins’ behavior and accountability only enables his immaturity. If you’re going to step unto the largest stage of your profession you have to take all of the scrutiny and pressure that comes with it. If you’re not ready for it, stay in college and develop….mature.

    If Smart pacifies him, Cousins will take advantage, and an already chaotic team becomes a wreck

    • 6thsense79 - Jan 14, 2012 at 7:57 AM

      Whatever dude. It’s not dismissing it’s called putting things into perspective. Smart readily admits that Cousins’ behavior has to change but he wants to quiet that his age is still a factor in this. 21 IS an immature age and not everyone, regardless of age mature’s at the same rate. That’s part of the reason car insurance is higher for people in that age range than say 27 or 28. As for staying in college until maturing……not your choice.

      Why exactly should he stay in college to “mature” while the NCAA makes 100’s of thousands if not millions off him when he can do his maturing in the league and collect his money? Kentucky where Cousins played in college is as high profile and high pressured as any place in the NBA and probably more so than Sacramento. How exactly would it be better to stay there and “mature” than the NBA? Especially playing for John Calipari who coddles and protects his star players with the best of them?

  4. metalhead65 - Jan 14, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    Kieth Smart,yet another example of what a horrible person and coach Bob Knight was.I mean how dare him be mean to kids like smart and help them to grow up be succsessful adults. and to think he is going to try and hielp this cousins kid and keep the legacy of knight going,just horrible I tell you. (for those of you at home this is sarcasim!)

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