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LSU head coach Johnny Jones
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Men's Basketball Holds Annual Media Day
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Published: October 28, 2013, 09:04 PM (CT)
Updated: October 28, 2013, 09:04 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE -- The LSU men’s basketball team conducted its annual local media day sessions as head coach Johnny Jones met with the media followed by his 2013-14 Tigers.

With a new practice schedule in effect this year for men’s basketball, the Tigers have actually been practicing since Oct. 1, but the days are counting down to the Nov. 6 exhibition game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center with Xavier of New Orleans and the Nov. 12 season opener on national television at UMass.

Jones discussed his practices so far, some of the new rules in play this season and how certain players will find their spots for playing time during the season.

Follow LSU Basketball on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJones. Ticket information is available at LSUtix.net with season tickets starting at $100 along with several mini-plans available as well.

Here are some of Coach Jones’ comments from the session with the media followed by player quotes:

Opening Statement …
“It’s great to see everyone here today, and this is a sign that everything is getting started soon. I’m really excited with this basketball team, and we’re a lot further along now than we were this time last year. I think that because guys are doing better offensively and defensively. We have more bodies, and it allows us to do more things in terms of executing at a certain level. I think the veterans have done a tremendous job in terms of leadership. I also think our freshmen and newcomers have done a great job in terms of following that leadership and competing at a certain level to challenge the older guys. We had a great scrimmage over the weekend, and I think it’s a sign of how further along we are this year than last year.”

On the importance of balancing the attention…
“We just have to make sure we have the same approach as last year. It’s important to improve with each practice and game. We can’t look ahead, and we have to make sure we work. This year we’ve been picked a lot higher in areas, but we have to get better each day. At the end of the year, we’ll have a chance to look back and see how well we’ve done.”

On his team and adjusting to the rules…
“With the new officiating rules about using your hands and the block-charge rule, we have to focus on that. I thought our guys did a great job in terms of adjusting. We’ve worked on rebounding, and we have improved in that area. There were some good indications on Saturday in how we were able to do that. I think the biggest improvement is our depth, and the ability we have to play at certain levels and many combinations with this team.”

On if the new rules will affect Anthony Hickey’s ability to steal the ball …
“I think the steals mainly came off the ball (last year), and he (Anthony Hickey) was great at anticipating. With our pressure last year, I have to say Anthony was more like a defensive back. He can read the eyes and their shoulders. He did a great job of anticipating and getting steals. I think he will do a better job this year in terms of length, and it will force more teams to lob balls.”

On the starting lineup…
“I think the great part about our team is that we are fair and give our guys a chance to compete at a certain level. These guys understand they have more opportunities to play, and we know guys will be challenged in playing a certain amount of minutes.”

On the variety of positions Jarell Martin can play…
“I’d like to see him master both the four and the three because the better he gets then it gives us an opportunity to be a better basketball team. He can shoot on the perimeter and force the opponent to put a bigger defender on him because he can post up. He can get a shot or create other opportunities for players on his team because he has the ball skill to do it. The biggest challenge will be defensively – he has great feet, but it will be tougher to make that adjustment.”

On Darcy Malone and John Odo
“Darcy being able to shoot the three-ball at seven feet (tall) is difficult to teach. He’s really good at being able to face up to the basket and not have his back to it. We didn’t have as much flexibility last year as we do this year. (John) Odo is one of the best shot blockers on our team and is really good at finishing around the basket. He’s a guy who knows what his limitations are.”

On Andre Stringer’s shooting improvement…
“It’s a combination of him continuing to work and also his shot selection. With the guys around him, he doesn’t feel the pressure or think he has to take certain shots. He understands he has other teammates on the floor. I think he understands if Johnny (O’Bryant III) gets double teamed down low then he will be able to get better shots because of it.”

On the schedule…
“We kind of wish we had something more in place like the NBA so we can have some exhibitions games in place. We could have a better look at your team in preseason play. Our schedule is going to be really challenging for us in playing at UMass then coming home to play a good Northwestern State team. Then we go to Orlando to play in the Thanksgiving classic against some really quality opponents. We will be challenged, and we are hopeful that we are at a certain point prior to conference play. We hope that we can go in very confident as a team knowing our strengths and weaknesses and to know what to improve on.”

On trying to return to the NCAA tournament…
“I think anytime you put a team together their desires are playing in the tournament. You’ve got six games, and if you win them all then you are cutting down the nets. We don’t talk about this every day and not through me. They (the players) may talk about it amongst themselves to know how much hard work it takes to get there. I think they feel like this team is built to make it. Their desires are to be there, and their work effort has shown. If how hard they work is any indication then I think we have a good chance of getting there.”

On what this year’s recruiting class provides…
“We had to address some different positions. We were really beat on the boards last year, and we gave a lot of second chance opportunities to our opponents. We were able to go big and bring in a guy like Tim Quarterman who is a tremendous perimeter player. He will give us some quality minutes. We felt like we addressed our needs in a great way.”

On Jarell Martin’s expectations…
“We try to make sure the guys understand the pressure is not there. We just have to compete and perform out on the court. I told him (there are) some great basketball players that have played quality minutes surrounding him. There’s not a lot of pressure, but he has the ability to deliver his best and do the little things that we ask of him to give us an opportunity to be a successful basketball team. He doesn’t have to come in and put up great numbers offensively or defensively. He just has to create opportunities for his teammates.”

On his recruiting process…
“Mainly, our student-athletes who are already on campus have done an amazing job of hosting and painting a picture of our program. When you sit in the living room (of a recruit), you can talk about the history and tradition of LSU. I like to make sure I explain that we can bring them to the next level whether to the NBA or the work force. I point to a lot of past student-athletes that have gone on to tremendous things in their professional careers.”

On how he plans to rotate his players this season…
“I think the way this team is built we can rotate in about 10 or 11 guys. I would like to see that happen. I think if we are putting forth the type of energy and playing as hard as we can possibly play, guys are going to need breaks out there on the floor. This would allow for someone else to get an opportunity to get out there and play. If we are doing that as an individual, I think that would put a lot more pressure on opponents that happen to be a shorthanded or probably don’t have as deep a bench. If we can put this type of pressure on them night in and night out, we have got an opportunity to play as hard as we can while subbing those 10 or 11 guys out, if possible. I don’t know if it will happen, but I am not against playing that number of guys.”

On when his decision to rotate players will be made…
“The good thing about me is I am a practice to practice kind of guy. If we continue to improve and get better as a team each practice, that will dictate my decision. I am not sure how far into the season that will go or what night that might be challenged enough to allow that to happen. There are some nights we are going to be clicking on all cylinders. We are going to be hesitant to making moves because you don’t want to upset the flow of that team or the chemistry that is going on that night on the floor. It could happen some nights (where) it could just be a coaches’ decision that we may not go as deep, but there’s other nights that we might have the opportunity to do that.”

On Coach Caldwell’s success and how he plans to make his team successful…
“I think Coach Caldwell is the best. She is tremendous when I’ve had the opportunities to be around her and watch her – not only with her program but also in the community. She’s been successful, and she’s had the opportunity to go to the Sweet 16 last year. That is what we aspire to be. We want to be a successful program – get there and have stability year in and year out. My approach is that we work extremely hard every day and that is the marker for us. How hard we are preparing, how the team understands our goals and how our desires are. If in fact those guys come in and they are the conditioned and trained athletes, I think they are and I know they are. We will just play hard every day, and everything always tends to take care of itself. UMass will be a great game for us then after that the most important game on our schedule is going to be Northwestern State. We have to keep preparing, and we challenge them to be at our best each night. We will do that throughout the season and really see where that leads us.”

On how Keith Hornsby’s experience helps the team…
“Something we didn’t have last season was that challenge in practice every day. We weren’t deep enough to be challenged in each position. I think Keith Hornsby has done a great job bringing that leadership. Although he won’t play for us this year, the way that he competes everyday – whatever team he’s on gives that team a chance. It forces the other team to be at their best and to be challenged each day on both the offensive and defensive ends. He doesn’t take any plays off so just because of his presence out there and what he brings to the team, his knowledge and his experience will allow us to have better practices. That will help us prepare even more for each game.”

On who will have more of an impact the veterans or the newcomers…
“I think the veterans have to get a nod because those guys have shown tremendous leadership. Johnny (O’Bryant III) made his decision from last year he was going to stay. That was huge for us because of the impact he made last year and just the experience he has. When you talk about Andre Stringer, he is one of those guys I feel like really gets it now of what it means to work hard, show leadership and be vocal. His actions on the floor have been really good. Shavon Coleman, you can’t leave him out. He’s a guy who played a special role on the team last year, and he’s really stepped up for this season. Whether he started or came off the bench, he was that guy who I think his motor was always high. He hasn’t disappointed this year because he’s the same way. I love the guys’ attitude and mentality we have returning from last year’s team.”

On if he wants to sell out the Maravich Center a couple of times this season…
“Absolutely, I think one of the things to take care of that is style of play. The product you put out there on the floor night in and night out. At the same time, we want to make sure that we go out and touch every viewer out there whether its fraternities, sororities, other specific groups or just the general public. We want to make sure we show them how important it is that they show up and be a big part of what we are doing here. We want to make sure they understand that we understand it’s an entertaining business for us. I think our guys when they play – it’s very entertaining because of our style of play. We just want to try and capture that audience that’s out there and let them understand on nights that we are playing regardless of who it is, it doesn’t have to be conference play, they just need to come and support the LSU jerseys on that night and get excited about it. I think if they can do that once then we can get them back again, and that’s what we are trying to do. We do feel like at some point this year we have chance to possibly get some sellouts, but we would love for people to come out early instead of late buying into what we are doing. If it’s any indication on how we finished last year, I think we are going to do a great job this season.”

On what specific role he sees Shavon Coleman settling into this season…
“I’m hopeful since we had him all over the place last year. Unfortunately for him, there were some disadvantages at times because of the size matchups. But this year, we are going to be more concentrated on him playing on the parameter which I think is his better position. That could be at the two spot or the three. He is a tremendous defender out there because of the long length he has. Last year, he played the point on our press. He was the foreman, and he created a lot of havoc out there on the floor. At times that we have to go small, we can utilize him that way l when we are trying to really speed up (the opponent). At the same time, he’s really good on the wing. He’s got great ball handling skills. He can really shoot it, and he has continued to improve his outside shooting touch. He’s a great passer that doesn’t turn it over a lot. He is just a gamer out there. He is really one of those guys that create a lot of opportunities for others.”

On how Malik Morgan has involved since last season…
“Malik has done a tremendous job off the floor. He had a great offseason and added an additional 15 pounds. He really continued to work on his outside shot which we thought was really good last season, but he’s really improved that this season. He’s got to continue to work on, just like our other players with these new rules in play not allowing much hand checking, it’s something he has to continue to get better at. Malik has quick feet. He’s a gamer, he’s a great rebounder and he’s great at getting to the ball to give us a second chance opportunity especially in rebounding. I think his improvement is really going to help us.”

On how much player consistency is his goal every season…
“One thing we always talk about is stability. To have that, you have to have quality players year in and year out. Not every guy we go out there and recruit will be a one and done. There are plenty of guys on this team that we feel are very sound players that can be compete at highest level night in and night out. They may not have an opportunity to play in the NBA. They are that quality of guy that each night you go out and play – you’ve got a chance. We have to make sure we continue to concentrate and focus on that group of guys each game. We will continue to recruit the best players we can each season.”

On how former players encourage the current team…
“We have made a certain effort to make sure those guys understand once they put that uniform on they are a family, and they are always welcome. You look forward to having an opportunity to visit with them and share with them. At the same time, talking to and visiting with the present team that is here whoever the former player may be. We love having them around because it means something to us. We want to make sure these guys understand when they take that uniform off after they played their last game that they are always welcomed back. I think if we build that type of comradery it will take the program along way.”    

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Player Quotes

F Johnny O'Bryant III

On scrimmage …
“It was pretty good, and we were able to work on some situational things. We … played a very good team. They had some great guards and a great coach. People on our team still have to find their roles. As a team, we need to continue to develop team chemistry.”

On competing against bigger players in practice…
“It helps to practice against that since we will be seeing it all year. We’ve got some really good shot blockers and competing against each other makes everyone better.”

On playing a bigger lineup…
“We are probably one of the biggest teams in the country. The new guys can all play well. We will be able to pound the ball inside against some of those early teams and get physical. That’s where the size advantage comes in to play.”

F Jarell Martin

On getting LSU more fan support…
“Going out and winning games is the most important thing. I look past all the talk and try to go in and play hard. I don’t want to let anything get to me, and I try to do anything the coaches ask of me to do.”

On the rule changes…
“It’s hard to adjust, but we’ve been working a lot on adjusting our game. We really need to focus on moving our feet instead of reaching with our arms which has been hard to change.”

On the recruiting process…
“It was a long process, and I talked to a lot of people before actually making the decision. I was able to talk to a lot of the players and ask them questions about the program. It really helped me make my decision and choose LSU.”

G Andre Stringer

On getting LSU back to the NCAA tournament…
“That’s my ultimate goal right now as a senior. It’s obvious that we are working hard to make sure we play in the NCAA’s in March. We play some really good teams, but the best thing we can do as a team is play hard and always learn from our coaches.  As a team, we always focus on the next game but getting into the tournament is always in the back of our minds.”

On scrimmaging…
“We were able to finally compete against other guys and not our teammates. We were able to get a feel of where guys like to take shots and the intensity we will need to play with. It gave us a good gage of where we are and how far we have progressed.”

G Anthony Hickey

On getting more steals…
“There will be a lot more deflections with longer guys up front. It will be easier to hide behind and get more steals. With the rule change though, it will be a little harder as well. We will have to adjust. It’s about playing better defense and adjusting to the new rules.”

On Jarell Martin
“He’s really athletic and will be a key to this team. It’s nice to have a group of long and athletic guys. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a lot of that.”

 

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