Jones Provides Preview of Men's Basketball Opener

LSU head coach Johnny Jones
LSU head coach Johnny Jones
Steve Franz
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE - The LSU men's basketball team opens its 2012-13 season and its first under head coach Johnny Jones Friday at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against UC Santa Barbara.

The game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network and scoreboard video and audio will be available in the Geaux Zone. Tickets for the game are on sale online at and the LSU Athletics Ticket Office. Game night ticket sales and doors will open one hour to tip at 6 p.m. LSU students are admitted free of charge with valid ID.

Wednesday, Jones met with the media regarding Friday night's game. Here are some of his comments:

November 7, 2012

Opening Statement
"We are obviously looking forward to Friday's game. We certainly feel it will be a good challenge for us against a very good basketball team. (UC Santa Barbara) is a talented team. They are an NCAA Tournament team that had several good players with them last year. We think it's a great opportunity for our basketball team to find out exactly where we are. I think the one scrimmage and the exhibition (game) served its purpose for us. I was happy to see several players on Monday night get quality minutes. We saw a lot of bright spots in some of those kids in the way that they played whose first time it was under those type of lights. At the same time, we had the opportunity to see areas where we have to continue to work on, really focus to give us an opportunity to get better and to have an opportunity to challenge in such a very talented league."

On the difficulties of starting a new season...
"It is going to take us quite some time to really try to get to where we're really trying to go and to get it all together. I haven't had a whole lot of time. I think when you're looking from October 12, that's when we get an opportunity to really start practice up until our first game time. If you don't have an experienced team with a lot of guys returning, it's always a little difficult. We are faced with that especially with a lot of new players, a new coach and a new system that we are trying to implement. It's extremely difficult, but it's one of those things that will take us some time. We will look forward to it and embrace the opportunity."

On disciplinary action early in the season...
"I think the good thing for both young men there (Shane Hammink and Anthony Hickey), is they are capable. We had to make sure we did things early on to let them know, and there are obviously some guidelines we have the opportunity to follow with our players. When that line is crossed there are usually some circumstances that you have to deal with. That's repercussion of those guys having the opportunity to miss on Monday's game, and that's tough. We're hoping that doesn't happen again, and they'll be back in uniform with us on Friday."

On Friday's projected starting lineup...
"I haven't really decided who are starting lineup will be. I thought Corban Collins did an excellent job the other night in Anthony Hickey's absence. There is a chance, if we continue to work him extremely hard that he could possibly be in our starting lineup. Both guys will have an opportunity to play, but I'm not sure who exactly who will start on Friday. Corban is not out of the question. When you have somebody to take advantage of your situation like Corban did and did well, you don't want to penalize him for something that he hadn't done. We'll make sure we make those necessary adjustments, but it won't be anything because of discipline. That is behind us, that all was taken care of on Monday. 

On expectations for Eddie Ludwig and Jalen Courtney...
"I think both of those guys have to be able to deliver when the opportunities present themselves. One, I think Johnny (O'Bryant III) will get a lot of attention. He'll be double-teamed at times. Those guys (Ludwig and Courtney) have to be able to respond and execute. They have to knock down short-range shots when they're left open. They have to make sure they rebound the basketball when lanes are available. That's all on the offensive end of the floor. On the other end (defensively), those guys will have to do a great job in terms of defending whenever they are at the four or the five spot. They will have opportunities to switch as well. All of the other post guys will definitely have a tremendous responsibility, and it won't just be on Johnny's shoulders."

On improving on Monday's game...
"Defensively, I thought we were not very good. A lot of times guys had straight driving lines from the wings. We didn't do a great job in terms of rotating together. We didn't do a great job in terms of containing the basketball. Those were some areas we really have to work on the last couple of days. It is really important to us, and we have to get better in that area. Our guys have to get to where they really trust each other on the defensive end of the floor. That is something we have to continue to work on. It's tough for them to leave their man sometimes because they are not sure if the rotation is going to be there to help them if they should help someone else. That is just going to come from constant work and repetition, and we'll get better at it."  

On approaching the non-conference schedule...
"We're obviously going into each one of them wanting to win, but at the same time we want to see the progression that we are making from each game. There are some things we have in. We don't have our total offensive or defensive packages in. The things we do have in, we want to see if we can execute at the highest level, meaning that we would like for our offense to be patient, and see if it is possible that our offense can dominate our opponent's defense. On the other end of the floor, our defense has to be as such that we can disrupt the opposing team's offense. We will allow them to run their offense and flow freely. It is a matter of whether we're getting stops, rotating to the right positions on the defensive end. That's something that we didn't do the other night, and we have to grow. I think each game we have to try and get better defensively and offensively in terms of our execution."

On Johnny O'Bryant III dealing with the double teams...
"I don't think he (O'Bryant III) had that problem last year because he had such a dominant force in there that the double team was coming away from him, and they were going down more than likely on Justin Hamilton. He reaped the benefits of being able to get good open looks. Now, he's a guy that they will double team. It was smart on Johnny's part; I thought he played extremely well on Monday. I thought he took one questionable shot off the baseline when I thought they were about to run two people at him. If that's the only thing that he is going to take with the number of opportunities he is going to get in the game, I think that's a good night for Johnny."

On his game day routine...
"I'll probably go through the same routine that I always go through as a head coach in terms of how I spend that day, when I'll shut everything off and really start focusing just on that game. Once we get to pregame practice, I'll probably go through that same ritual and routine. I know when we get on that court just like a couple of years ago on December 22 when I walked out here on LSU's court when we had the opportunity to play here (when I North Texas' head coach).The emotions I felt, it should be that way coming out the tunnel. It will be the first actual game with family, friends and all those folks that will be here on that occasion. I'll just realize exactly where we are at that given time."

On differences between Anthony Hickey and Corban Collins...
"I think Corban Collins did an excellent job of running and leading our team on Monday. I thought they executed extremely well. I think the difference in Hickey is he'll maybe push the ball a little quicker. He'll get in the gaps. He's a little more elusive, and he'll attack the basket a little bit more. But that would be the difference in the team. I think the tempo of the game will change a little bit when he's in. But executing wise, I'm not sure it will be any better because I thought Collins did an excellent job of quarterbacking our team." 





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