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Men's Basketball Preps for Trip to Ole Miss
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Published: January 13, 2014, 06:02 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team, fresh off its first Southeastern Conference win and its second road win of the 2013-14 season, began preparations for its Wednesday contest in Oxford with Ole Miss with an early afternoon practice.

The Tigers and Rebels meet at 8 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum in a game regionally televised on CSS/CST and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.

LSU is 10-4 and 1-1 in the SEC, while the Rebels, coming off a 76-72 loss at Mississippi State, stands at 10-5 and also 1-1 in the SEC. The 1-1 record is held by six teams after the first week of the conference season.

Coach Johnny Jones came to the media room of the practice facility after Monday’s workout and here are some of his comments:

HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES

Opening Statement…
“We’re looking forward to two big games this week. Certainly, on Wednesday Ole Miss – Marshall Henderson returns to conference play. It will certainly be a challenge and a great test for us. It will be a great environment there in Oxford, Miss. We are certainly looking forward to that challenge after coming off of a really gutsy hard-fought battle at South Carolina where I thought our guys did an excellent job of coming out and playing extremely hard. Through stretches of the game, we had some turnovers which South Carolina had a lot to do with. Unfortunately, we didn’t knock our free throws down like we needed to late, but we were able to sustain the energy that we needed to and convert – execute the plays down the stretch to get out of there with a victory. We are going to have to do a lot of that on Wednesday as well with the guard play that Ole Miss will have. It’s going to be a great evening for our perimeter guys to have to make sure they turn up their defensive intensity throughout the game. We know what we are in for, and it’s something that we certainly have to be prepared for.”

On defending Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson…
“I’m not sure about getting in his head. I’m not sure if you ever see guys who are really defending him because he’s a really great catch-and-shoot guy. They’ve done an excellent job of screening for him and getting him open so I’m not sure how much he worries about that defender. He really works well without the basketball and utilizing angles – worrying about where that defender is so he can make his next move to make the next play. I think teams will have to show him different looks in order to try to force him to score in different ways, and hopefully not just allow him to get comfortable.”

On the differences inside for Ole Miss from last year…
“I think they had more of an inside presence in terms of the ability of strength and athleticism to score because they could really score at the basket with force. Those guys (Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway) were really good in terms of pushing you off of your spots defensively as well. I think they are just a little bit more guard-oriented this year looking for their primary scoring from guards. They’re more of an outside-in team than an inside-out team because they look to really score on that perimeter.”

On the difference for freshmen being able to adapt early…
“I just think it’s about maturity. I think anytime you’re playing at this level – I was listening and there were some questions about the kid (freshman Julius) Randle at Kentucky, and the cramping that he’s been going through in the last several games. That’s not something that they were concerned or worried with in high school because of the dominance, but I think when you get at this level – the level that you have to play night in and night out and the caliber of talent that you are playing against forces you to raise that level. You have to continue to get better. Because of that if you are a good basketball player, you are able to meet that and raise your level of intensity to be able to execute at a higher level. I think that’s really across the board, and we are faced with the same thing. Our guys are talented, but we’re certainly faced with something a little bit different night in and night out because of the intensity level of the other team and the experience that there’s certainly a window for adjustment for our younger guys.”

On defending the Ole Miss shooters…
“Well, you have to try to help. If Henderson comes off of screens clean or if he gets a peek or a look at the basket, he has the ability to rise up over the defender and get a good shot. As a defender and a defensive basketball team, you have to make sure that you’re in a help position. You have to hedge, and you have to try and pick your poison to what you want to give up. You have to make sure that you get to Henderson and make sure that he’s taking tough, contested shots – not just clean looks at the basket. Then, that’s going to give some of those other guys some freedom to make the next play.”

On the impression to the changes in the starting lineup…
“I thought we got off to a great start at South Carolina. I thought we got stops. I think the first play of the game defensively we got a steal or a deflection, and they had to foul us. I think with Shavon – the next play we got another deflection as well. I think they may have gone the first three minutes plus without scoring if I’m not mistaken. That was a good, sound defensive start for us.”

On Jarell Martin’s role off the bench…
“I think what it gave Jarell an opportunity to do – maybe he had an opportunity to look from the bench and see what they were doing defensively, areas where he can get in to the gaps offensively and how their post guys were playing. He was able to go in and take advantage of it. He knocked down, and he scored in a variety of ways though. He scored from the perimeter shooting jumpers against their zone. At the same time, he came back and made really good plays against their man (defense) going to the basket. One, out of our regular set offense and then at the same time on a break he took the ball to the basket. Jarell shot eight free throws the other night, knocking down seven. That’s a great night for any of our players to get to the line that number of times and that shows his aggressiveness with the basketball. So, I thought he did a lot of things well on Saturday.”

On his team’s response to their defensive performance versus South Carolina…
“I think just to improve as a basketball team. We have to try to improve every day. I think when we talk about toughness – it just means to disrupt the opposing team’s offense, not allow them to get in a rhythm, the cuts that they want or catching the ball in the comfort areas where they would like to catch it. I think our defense has to be tough enough to try and dominate our opposing team’s offense. I thought the other night we did a pretty good job outside of their guard (Sindarius Thornwell) really getting to where he wanted to on the floor and scoring baskets in the lane. He hit shots and had his way, but I thought our post guys did a great job of holding their post guys to under their averages.”

On executing offensively against Ole Miss…
“We want to really play at a certain pace. The biggest thing is making sure that we are executing offensively. If that’s making extra passes and making sure we’re getting the looks that we want throughout our offense – it helps us. Sometimes, we will quick shoot the basketball. We haven’t moved it enough to allow that post guys to make certain cuts and get the looks that we want inside-out prior to the backside of what we want to do at the end of a shot clock or at the end of our offense. The other night I thought we stayed with our offense a little bit longer which gave us some opportunities to get some looks inside. Especially late in the second half, Johnny O’Bryant (III) had some good touches and made plays in terms of scoring then made the right reads in terms of making a dump-down pass to drop one off to I think (Jordan) Mickey. Mickey scored another one in the paint on his own. Then, Johnny gap-dribbled, kicked it out and I think (Andre) Stringer knocked down a three as well. So, that’s good balance. When we are able to do that – guys are comfortable, and we have the right spacing on the floor. That’s how our offense looks. When guys get comfortable, that’s what will happen.”

On his guards being more patient…
“We have what I think one of the better group of post guys in our conference, and we want to first look for our highest percentage shot. Generally, that’s near the basket with those (post) guys. Our spacing really has to be good. When you have knockdown shooters like (Anthony) Hickey who is capable of knocking down shots along with (Andre) Stringer as well as Shavon Coleman can get going as well as Malik (Morgan). We have to make sure that we’re conscious of that as well, but if we can play inside-out, it makes it an easier game for us. Our guys are much higher percentage shooters when we play inside-out.”

On Andre Stringer coming off the bench…
“He wound up doing what he’s capable of doing. He’s a guy that hadn’t hit some shots, but I think character kicked in and just showed that he wasn’t afraid to take the next big shot. We called a play for him there late. He came off of screens and nailed a shot right there in front of our bench. He knocked down a three, and it gave him confidence. Johnny (O’Bryant III) comes back, hits him and he knocks down another three for us. We know that Stringer if he misses, whatever he misses, a lot of his shots are close. He’s confident enough, and I think with his experience we can count on him when he has a good look to take that shot.”

On the team’s progression to this point…
“I just think it’s a part of growing up. We’re a young basketball team in some areas. We’ve asked guys to play multiple positions, and it’s a learning process for us. We’re hopeful that we’re getting better at that. What we would like is make sure that we play longer stretches in terms of making good plays on both ends of the floor offensively and defensively – in terms of our ability to execute. As the season progresses through practices and through games, we’re hopeful that we’ll continue to get better that way.”

On getting the first conference win of the season…
“Last year was tough getting out of the gates 0-4. This year, we got off to a tough start here at home. But to go on the road in a very tough environment against a team who plays extremely hard and get that win, we’re excited about that especially against an opponent who knocked us off here at home last year early in the season.”

On the future of the starting lineup…
“The good thing is for us, and we’re fortunate that we have – and I won’t call it a luxury – we have several guys on our team that are capable of playing certain roles. What I want to make sure that our team gets caught up in are a few things – winning is the most important thing, preparation and being ready when your number is called. I think if the guys are ready and capable of doing that then it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day because throughout the game guys should be getting great minutes and playing for us. We should be worried more so about our rotation and getting into that instead of starters so I hadn’t put a whole lot into that.”

 

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