Jones Holds First 'Tipoff Luncheon' of 2013-14
Communications Sr. Associate
BATON ROUGE – A large gathering of LSU basketball fans and media gathered Tuesday at L'Auberge Resort for the October debut edition of the Johnny Jones Tipoff Luncheon Presented By Hub International.
This is the second year for the monthly luncheons at the local resort's Bon Temps Buffet which features Coach Jones updating fans on the LSU men's basketball team and featuring special guests. This month, women's basketball coach Nikki Caldwell was on hand to update the crowd on her team's opening week of practice.
Coach Jones and the Tigers and Coach Caldwell and the Lady Tigers will participate in the Bayou Madness event as part of the “Road to Tipoff” Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The event is free and open to the public with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. There will be the introductions of the two squads, a dunk contest, interactive contests involving the fans and an autograph session to end the evening.
The Tigers are now into their second week of practice and here are the comments from today's luncheon from Coach Jones (Coach Caldwell's comments will be posted in a separate story on LSUsports.net.):
“Coach (Caldwell), I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to be here. It means a great deal to us, and again it's great to have an opportunity to work alongside someone like yourself and to have an opportunity to come out and watch your practices. Whether she is doing individual skill work or putting her team through one of her rigorous practices, I've always enjoyed having the opportunity to take it in and she's got a special team, I guess that goes without saying, taking the team to the Sweet Sixteen last year with limited numbers. She has done a tremendous job recruiting, and I look forward to great things from her this year.
“I'm excited as well this year about our basketball team and the guys that we have coming in. It's been a great start for us. I'm really excited. We are excited about the coming season, practice has gotten off to a great start. I'm excited to have the number of guys that we have in practice right now. We have thirteen guys on scholarship, only eleven will be available to hit the floor, but we've also kept around two walk-ons that we will have this year. They are both freshman, and I think they are going to give us quality time in practice and make practice extremely competitive. One gentleman that we have that's transferring in that will certainly have to sit this year is Keith Hornsby, and he's done a tremendous job of making practice competitive already. He'll be sitting out, he'll have two years left to play. But he's been an incredible addition to our team, he practices extremely hard and is very competitive. His dad is the Grammy award winning pianist Bruce Hornsby. He just finished doing a show up in Meridian, Miss. He's a tremendous guy, and his son is a tremendous basketball player.
“We've got four great freshmen in this group. We feel that if these guys can continue to progress like they have in practice, so far in Jarrell Martin, he's been as great as advertised. I think some of the media had an opportunity to come out and watch him after the first few days of practicing. I think they would agree. Jordan Mickey is a tremendous shot-blocker out of Dallas. He probably could have been one of the top 20 high school players in the country. Darcy Malone has been a pleasant surprise for us. I don't think we realized how quickly he was going to pick up the speed of the game, and how he's worked on the strength and conditioning. He's 7 foot, 235 pounds, shoots the ball well from outside. He will mix it up inside and continue to play well for us. Tim Quarterman is a great point guard, 6'5 and a half, 6'6”. He's a tremendous floor leader and has done a great job for us. But you take that group of guys and you add in the sophomores -- Malik Morgan -- how he's come back and done a tremendous job from the summer. We've gotten off to a great start in practice right now. Shane Hammink, who didn't get a lot of playing time last year; but I think that year has allowed and helped him grow up.
“We know the nucleus of our team and how good we will be will depend on the guys who are the seasoned vets on our team. You're talking about Johnny O'Bryant III, who turned down going to the NBA last year to come back to school. He will make a huge impact on our team. He had a great off-season, has been relentless since day one of practice, he's been a force to be reckoned with. Anthony Hickey, who is also in that class. But the guy who I think has really stepped up is Andre Stringer, 5'9” but will shoot the lights out. He's got a big heart and really drew a lot of our toughest defensive assignments last year. He's done an excellent job of stepping up for us. The one we can't forget is Shavon Coleman who really got us off to a great start last year. He had to play the four position. It's great because the number of guys we have that are playing inside this year, we can play him on the perimeter. He led our team in the pre-season in scoring last year and did a tremendous job.
“We're excited with the number of guys that we've got out there competing in practice every day. I'm telling you, when we have an opportunity to get out there on the floor, because of the depth that we have, we feel that we are going to have an opportunity to make the people we are playing against a little uncomfortable because of the type of pressure we can put on from start to finish. We are excited about our schedule; it's going to be another grueling schedule, especially with the Holiday Classic (in Orlando) for Thanksgiving. We'll have teams with the likes of Memphis, Oklahoma State that are in the tournament. We're starting off with St. Joseph's in that tournament; Washington State is in the tournament as well. But it will be a very tough tournament and we're looking forward to the challenges that it will present for us.”
On Johnny O'Bryant…
“I think Johnny's one of the best big men in the SEC. Last year he was voted First Team All-Conference. I think that the work he's been doing in the off-season has really put him in a position next year that he's not going backwards. He's certainly going forward. Johnny's one of those guys that he could be player of the year in the conference if he continues to blossom. He led the league in double-doubles last year. We weren't, at the four-spot, able to shoot the ball last year as well as I think we will be able to this year with Jarrell Martin and Jordan Mickey. So that's going to isolate Johnny a little bit more for him to get a little bit more work done down there. With the size and strength and condition he'll come in with this year that will set the tone for him, so I think he'll make a huge impact for us this year.”
On how Johnny and Jarell challenge each other in practice…
“The day the media was in, we went through a lot of our one-on-one drills and they had an opportunity to match up with each other. But when we scrimmage, they've generally been on the same team. I think they've played extremely well together in terms of being able to share the ball. Their games really complement each other. Both are very capable of shooting the ball from outside. They are great back to the basket players with strength. Jarell runs the floor extremely well for a guy his size. Again, Johnny wasn't in the best of shape last year, I think he's paid the price early on, wound up missing a couple of games due to injury because, I think, of a lack of conditioning. I think because of that, the way that he's come back this year, those guys will work extremely well together. Again, you have to add in Jordan Mickey and Darcy Malone to that group as well. “
On Mickey and Martin's height…
“I can certainly tell you that Jarell Martin, when we signed him, was about 6'8” and I think we measured him out now as about 6'9 and a half and about 235, 240 pounds. Jordan Mickey is about 6'8” and is probably about 6'8 and a half now. But the surprising thing about him is that he has a 7'3” inch wingspan, which is phenomenal for a guy his size. He's a great athlete, quick jumper, great shot blocker, and I would be surprised if he's not one of the leading shot blockers in our league this year. He can really shoot from outside, he can get to the rim, he's a fearless competitor. So both of those guys are really good freshmen that will compete at a certain level for us, and for us to get where we're trying to go, they'll have to.”
On the first team…
“We're far from picking a team, because we've got some guys that are competitive and they will definitely get their fair shot. They are really competing at a high level right now. I can tell you Johnny O'Bryant will be there because I'm sure that the impact he's making on those guys, but those other guys are really going at it every day in practice. And when we do scrimmage, regardless of how the team is mixed up, there is not a big difference in the score at the end of the day.
On Hickey vs. Quarterman at the point guard position…
“Hickey's speed is the difference in Hickey and Quarterman in terms of ability of playing point. Comparing those two guys, with Hickey, he's extremely quick, a tough defender, especially on-ball, he'll get after you. He can really make big shots. He's not afraid to take big shots and he finishes well in the paint area as well. He's a fierce competitor but when you look at a young man like Tim Quarterman, who is player of the year in the state of Georgia for his class (AAA). He's lengthy, he's 6'5” or 6'6”. He's very rangy, great feet, he can really stay in front of you on the defensive end. What he will give us is an opportunity to switch a lot more on the perimeter because he can switch and guard a two or three. Very easy if he got caught on a four, he's long enough that he can maybe prevent them from throwing an easy pass in the air. We can double-down to allow us to do some things defensively with him that we couldn't get away with Hickey. He's very crafty with the basketball, really good passer, can really see over the defense because of his size. Very good protector of the basketball and can finish at the rim. We are really happy to have him. He really competes well and he and Hickey have gone at it in practice each day. It's been a great war out there and that's good to have.”
On Jarell Martin…
“I messed up and made a statement that I thought Jarell Martin had the ability to possibly be like a John Williams who was a great player and All-American here at LSU and put us on his back in '86 and took us to the Final Four. Well, Jarell Martin is one of those guys, and I think the similarity is that both can play from the point guard to the five. Jarell had good enough ball-handling skills to get the ball up the floor as well. He's got good enough size because he's about 6'9”, closer to 6'10, weighs about 240 and capable of playing the center spot for us as well. He has the ability to shoot the ball from outside. John Williams obviously with more experience at the time when he got here, but Jarell Martin is one of those guys who is very skilled and we are excited to have him. He will allow us to play him in several positions right now. It's probably a little bit unfair to him, because we are playing him inside and out, and that's really tough for a freshman, but we want to make sure he gets the experience when we find out exactly where his niche is going to be for us early in the season. “