Beal: 'I have too many people in my ear'

Beal: 'I have too many people in my ear'
November 6, 2012, 5:30 pm
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Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (left) talks with Wizards point guard John Wall (right) on the bench against the Boston Celtics in the first half at Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE)

It’s probably safe to say that in all of his years of playing basketball, whether it was on the playgrounds of St. Louis or the University of Florida, Bradley Beal has never gone seven straight quarters without making a field goal.

At least not until now.

In his first two games in the NBA, the Wizards’ 19-year-old rookie has taken just 13 shots and has made two of them – a pair of 3-pointers early in the Wizards’ opening night loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Taken third overall by the Wizards in 2012 NBA draft, Beal said Tuesday there are plenty of reasons for his slow start but made it clear his age isn’t one of them. At 19 years and 124 days, Beal became the seventh-youngest player in NBA history to start a season opener.

“I don’t use age or being a rookie as an excuse,” Beal said. “It’s a great honor, honestly, and not a lot of people are in the position I’m in.”

One of the biggest challenges of being an NBA rookie is keeping your inner circle small and sorting through the opinions of those outside the game -- like those from family and friends.

The third of Bobby and Besta’s five sons, Beal lives in Arlington with his two older brothers, Bruce and Brandon. And like everyone else Beal surrounds himself with, they have their opinions on why the 6-foot-4, 207-pound shooting guard is having so much trouble scoring.

“You always have people who think they know the answers to everything,” Beal said. “People texting me and calling me. ‘You gotta do this; you gotta do this.’

“I have too many people in my ear, so I have to eliminate that and keep my circle small and focus on what the team needs to do and what I need to do. I know a lot of people want me to do this, this and this, but that’s not important to me. We're trying to get wins. We’re 0-2 so we have to figure out how to get wins and the outside people need to stay on the outside.”

Strong words for a 19-year-old rookie who is just now starting to feel the demands of being a professional athlete. Those demands include dealing with a veteran coach who is a stickler for details.

“I learned Day One I can’t do everything that Trevor Ariza does or John Wall does,” Beal said. “Sometimes coaches know your bad habits. Coach [Wittman] is on my butt all the time and I don’t have a problem with it because he knows I can be better and he knows I can accept his criticism.”

Following his two-point evening Saturday night against the Celtics, Wittman broke down tapes of the game and showed Beal how his lack of aggressiveness cost him chances to create offense, play tight defense and grab loose rebounds.

“At first I thought I was doing good and everything was going good,” Beal said. “But then he showed me film and film doesn’t lie.”

Beal said he’s getting accustomed to Wittman’s attention to detail.

“He’s on my butt all the time, every practice,” Beal said. “It may be for a small thing like when a shot goes up he wants everybody back [on defense]. He’ll just stop practice and snap. But it keeps me in a good habit and keeps me working on things he wants me to do at a young age. I’m going to respect that and do what he wants.”

Beal’s learning curve has been accelerated by the absence of Wall, who is expected to remain sidelined until the end of November with a stress injury to his right knee. Clearly, the Wizards will need him to produce more than he has in his first two games if they hope to keep their heads above water until Wall returns.

Beal says the scoring will come once he starts feeling less pressure and starts having more fun on the floor, something he says has been lacking.

“I think I’m losing sight of what’s important, which is having fun,” he said. “Throughout all my years of playing ball I’ve always had fun, laughing on the court and having a blast.

“But I haven’t been doing it the last two games because I’ve been distracted with other things I shouldn’t be distracted by. I’m the one that has to change. It’s not anybody else’s fault but mine.”