CEDAR PARK, TX — Before tipoff of the Austin Toros (San Antonio Spurs’ D-League affiliate) New Mexico Thunderbirds contest, I had a chance to catch up with Toros’ forward Leo Lyons.
Lyons played with Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa and Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem before coming to Austin. In 2008, Lyons led the Big 12 Conference in field goal percentage and was ranked 24th in the nation while with Missouri.
Right before this Q&A, Leo and I shared some laughs as he was joking about how he wanted to be on Toros Nation:
Jeff: So somebody wants to be on Toros Nation huh?
Leo: (laughing) You know it!
Well how has it been so far for you making your D-League debut and how much of a difference is it between the D-League and playing overseas?
There is a bigger difference. There’s a lot more talented players here. It’s not so much format. A lot of the coaches let the guys go out there and play to their best of their talents. That’s what I’m trying to do here.
How would you assess your play with the Toros this season?
So far I’m OK. I’m still learning on the go. I haven’t had too many practices with the team, like two or three maybe, I joined the team on the road, I got to learn on the go. It’s kind of hard for me but I’m getting there.
After a great season last year, the Toros been in the middle of the pack. Is it basically this is a whole new team?
Yeah pretty much it’s a brand new squad. We’re still learning each other. We’re still learning the coaches play. There were a lot of guys here before me and they’re still trying to learn. Sometimes stuff comes fast and you got to take your time and build chemistry with your team.
Mainly people tag you as an offensive minded player but you do get it done on the defensive end.
Right! That’s been my main focus. I’m shooting a lot less than I normally do. I’m a little less aggressive and trying to focus on defense because that is what has me on the edge of the NBA, the questions about my defense.
How has Coach Brad Jones been?
He has been good for me. I didn’t know what to expect from him but I learned after a few days he’s really hands-on and that’s the kind of coach I need. Always trying to get me to be better and I appreciate him for it.
What is the next step for you to make it into the NBA?
Showing them what I can do on the defensive end. Showing them I can come work hard and bring my hard hat everyday.
Make sure to follow Leo on Twitter at @itsleolyons