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Johnson, Tigers Speak at Men's Basketball Media Day
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Published: October 13, 2011, 07:22 PM (CT)
Updated: October 14, 2011, 03:45 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - LSU coach Trent Johnson took the podium for LSU media day on Thursday and both Johnson and the LSU players appeared ready for the official start of pre-season practice sessions which begin Friday evening at the LSU practice facility.

The media day activities featured Coach Johnson visiting with media from various parts of the state in the practice facility media room, followed by one-on-one interview time with the players in the practice gymnasium where the real work will begin at 5 p.m. Friday that will lead to the opening game of the regular season on Nov. 12 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against Nicholls State.

Admission for that game, as part of a football-basketball doubleheader, will be free of charge. Tipoff for the basketball game is tentatively set for Noon.

Johnson discussed the pre-season workout session the team is allowed before the official first day of practice, the team's spring trip to Italy and the upcoming schedule.

Season tickets are on sale to the general public at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at LSUtix.net. The starting price for men's basketball season tickets is $100.

Follow LSU basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.

Here are some of Coach Johnson's comments at the media day session and also some of the quotes from the LSU players during their session:

LSU Men's Basketball Media Day
October 13, 2011
 
HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON

Opening Statement...
"Good afternoon. After 23 individual workout sessions at 40 minutes per session, we have been able to get a lot done and a lot accomplished. From a defensive standpoint, we have been able to do the one-three-one, two-three zone, and obviously man. With this group, I am looking forward to the opportunity to be able to pick up three-quarter court against certain teams and certain people. Offensively, we have been able to introduce the fast break early on, we obviously played a lot of motion when we were in Italy, and we have about 10 set plays or calls that have multiple variations and scoring opportunities. Last year, we didn't handle the ball very well against full court pressure. We are a lot better from a skills standpoint and from the standpoint on how to handle the basketball, which is something we worked on. We also worked on late clock and game situations. The attention to detail and concentration level of this group, up to this point, has been very good. Are we further ahead than since I have been at LSU?  I would say yes, and that is what you would expect with a nucleus of two-year and three-year guys returning. The freshmen are a little behind, but are doing a very good job of keeping their course in terms of keeping their concentration level where it needs to be. Obviously, the speed and physicality of the game and practice is a little different from what they are used to, but they are doing a good job. All three guys give us a level of athleticism, a level of quickness and a level of size that we haven't had since my first year as head coach. I am really excited about this group and having the opportunity to go up and down against each other really soon."
 
On the biggest benefit of the games in Italy in May ...
"Without question it was the ability to learn how to win. Obviously, you play international rules and the game is basically all about offense with a 24 second shot clock. They do not like to guard you, and they like to get real physical with you, so it put us in some very adverse situations. Like I said, there were three games on the back end of the trip, after we had played six games in nine days and practiced five times in two days prior to leaving, that were our toughest competition. So our guys stayed the course when we were down two at the half in one game or down five or six in another. We had every opportunity to fold and to play not to win. From this standpoint, I thought it was very productive because there is no doubt that from what we have been through in this past year, guys have lost their confidence, but they are also bigger and stronger and know what to expect from each other. I think this is a team that is quite fed up with losing, so the trip was quite productive in that sense."
 
On John Isaac...
"The first time I saw John (Isaac), the thing that stood out to me was his overall competitiveness. He brings that to the table along with some athleticism, which makes him a very good defender. John, Chris (Bass) and Anthony (Hickey) will all play the point guard position."
 
On Justin Hamilton...
"He will be playing a lot. Justin is a post player, he can pass, he can catch and he has some size. You can't coach size, and you can't coach quickness. More importantly, I think he has a very good basketball IQ and has been battle-tested with his experiences as a two-year starter in the Big 12. He enables Storm (Warren) and Malcolm (White) to be who they are as basketball players. Both of those players have had to play out of position and guard guys who were bigger and stronger. They did a very good job competing, but now with the addition of Justin that gives us more flexibility up front. Obviously, with Johnny (O'Bryant III), Storm and Malcolm being back along with Andrew (Del Piero) and Jalen (Courtney), who have both looked extremely good in practice. Justin is definitely going to help us."
 
On Chris Bass and Storm Warren's development in the last four years...
"The word that comes to mind is proud. Chris is up for an award at LSU for the athlete that has improved the most academically. There is nothing that those two guys have not seen. They were freshmen on the team when we won the (SEC) championship, so they have definitely seen the highs and lows. Chris is one of the most durable guys I have been around in my 14 years of coaching. He has a lot of personality and is always happy and smiling. I think he is going to play well this year. He has worked extremely hard, and he has a lot of guys around him that can score. There are a lot of guys around him that can make plays as well, so he can go back to doing what he does best which is bringing up the ball in transition and distributing it. With the addition of Johnny O'Bryant III and Justin Hamilton, Storm will have the flexibility of going back to just rebounding the ball and not feeling the pressure to do everything. I am really happy for both of these guys."
 
On incorporating Johnny O'Bryant III...
"Johnny is going to be thrown out there early and often. It is my responsibility to make sure we put him in game situations where he can use his natural ability. Let's make no mistake about it; there is a learning curve that is being sped up as quickly as possible. Johnny has a good basketball IQ, so I think he is going to be fine."
 
On Storm Warren as a leader...
"Storm (Warren) leads by example. At times, he can be vocal, but for the most part he leads by example. I have always been a firm advocate of leadership because if you have 13 guys or 10 guys on a team all being accountable academically, socially and athletically, then the leadership can be spread out. So I think leadership from Storm's standpoint is not something he has to carry by himself anymore. There are guys like Eddie (Ludwig), Justin (Hamilton) and obviously Chris (Bass) that have been around for two or three years who can also fill that role. We have a good group, and I am really looking forward to when we get challenged and seeing how our team plays and competes through some adverse situations."
 
On Ronald Martin joining team as a walk-on (Freshman from White Castle (HS), La. ...
"As soon as Coach (Les) Miles gives us the green light, he will be on the roster. Ronald played in high school. He is a strong and physical player. Obviously his priority right now is what is going on at football, but as soon as he is through and Coach Miles releases him, he will be over here helping us. As soon as we are done with our bowl game in New Orleans, he will be here.

"Ronald is a really good athlete with a physical approach that I love. He is not going to be put in situations where he has to learn too much at a fast rate, but where he can help us much like Andrew (Del Piero) in practice.  It works out with the NBA lockout that we can use some of the players who are pros in occasional practices. However, hopefully the lockout will end soon, play will start and we will need another body for the scout team. This is where Ronald will come in to play."
 
On the schedule...
"From a fan's perspective, when you look at our schedule, we have a great opportunity to build up our RPI and put us in whatever situation we want to be in for postseason consideration. Marquette comes here; Virginia, another NCAA caliber team in the ACC, comes here and they were a team that beat us last year. Then for the Charleston Classic, we will play Northwestern who has everybody back. So, it's definitely a schedule that fits this team, but is also a schedule where we will need to bring our A-game and be ready to play at all times. We will need all of the support we can get. This is the way it should be. If we get through this thing and win our share of games, we will be in a great situation and everyone will be excited come March."
 
MEN'S BASKETBALL PLAYER QUOTES

F STORM WARREN

On being a senior leader on the team ...
"I take the responsibility of being an upperclassman and being apart of this team going on four years now very seriously. The team knows that anytime they need any type of advice or anything, they can come to me, whether it's daytime or nighttime.  I'll help them out in any possible way."

On Justin Hamilton ...
"He has a great skill set, he has a high IQ of the game, and his ability to play is phenomenal.  He's going to play a great part in this team, and he's going to create some options. 

On goals for the season ...
"My goals are mainly team goals and that's just to come out and win."

G RALSTON TURNER

On expectations for the season ...
"I think that we're much improved this season.  I believe that we'll have a chance to win our share of games as a team and make it to the tournament."

On last season ...
"Last year we had a lot of young guys and experience is invaluable.  This year we have more experience, and I feel we are further ahead than where we were at this time last year."

On (pre-season workouts) and team chemistry ...
"Practices have been going well.  As a team, I believe our chemistry is really good.  We're all upbeat, and we're learning to help the young guys to adjust and understand what it takes to be successful every day."

F JOHNNY O'BRYANT III

On the transition to LSU ...
"The transition has been good, but also tough.  In high school it is a lot slower and centered around you.  Then you get to college, and the game is faster. Guys are bigger, faster and stronger. So, you're making a big transition from high school to college.  It's been kind of tough, but I'm getting used to it."

On being compared to other forwards such as Big Baby, etc. ...
"There's no pressure.  I just want to come in and do what I can to help my team win games."

G JOHN ISSAC

On transition from high school basketball to college basketball ...
"Coming here, I see that I have to do more than I did in high school.  I had a lot of time in high school, but now my time is limited.  I have to be on point at all times.  My game here at LSU has changed tremendously.  I'm getting better at my jump shot, penetration and passing skills.  I've been doing a lot of dribbling drills with the team and a lot of drills after practice.  Just a combination of things to get my skills up."

On the team ...
"The chemistry is really good.  We have come together like a family, and it's a good bond.  I feel good about where we are right now."

On expectations for the season ...
"I think everything is in place and right where it should be.  I hope to improve on becoming a better player and a better teammate."    

 

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