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Coach says it's time for Tarik Black to get mean

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Portland Trail Blazers' Noah Vonleh, left, and Los Angeles Lakers' Tarik Black fight for position during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Portland Trail Blazers' Noah Vonleh, left, and Los Angeles Lakers' Tarik Black fight for position during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Still a young NBA post player with plenty to learn, Tarik Black is a lot of things.

A hard worker. A load to deal with on the glass. Genuine. Easy to talk to.

But as the 6-foot-9 center enters his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers, coach Byron Scott has made it known Black needs to be something else, too: mean.

As Scott recently revealed in the L.A. Daily News, he wants the 250-pound Black to become a bruiser who runs all over the court hitting people and rebounding.

“The biggest thing I told him last year was he’s too nice. He has to get some type of mean streak in him,” Scott said. “Then he can be a monster.”

Black told the L.A. Daily News he understands when his coach says something like that, he needs to figure out a way to make it happen.

“He’s the captain of the ship. So if he has thoughts about how we should grow, get better and play in his system, I’ll abide by it. We’ve talked about it, but we need to keep talking about it,” Black said. “As I find out more of what he wants out of me, I’ll have to mold to that.”

The Lakers, who were awful last season (21-61), appear to at least have more depth in the front court for 2015-16. And Black’s smart. He knows he better do everything within his power to make his coach happy. Otherwise, his minutes will dwindle, with the Lakers able to play Roy Hibbert, Julius Randle and Brandon Bass inside, too.

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Black thinks highly of Randle, who basically missed his entire rookie season last year after literally breaking a leg in his NBA debut.

“Throughout the summer, me and him have matched up against each other a lot and he’s really made me a believer,” Black told LakersNation.com. “He’s got the potential to really explode in the NBA.”

In 38 games for the Lakers last year, Black actually started 27 games and averaged 21.1 minutes an outing. With that opportunity, he made 58.9% of his shots, and averaged 7.2 points and 6.3 rebounds.

If 7-foot-2 veteran Hibbert remains healthy all season, and Randle does the same, there is no way Black will see nearly as much playing time for L.A. this year. With a reduced role and a strong work ethic, though, perhaps Black will become a little meaner after all.


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