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LSU head coach Johnny Jones
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Jones, Basketball Prep for Return to Action
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Published: December 11, 2013, 08:50 PM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE – As the week of exams begins to slowly wind down for the LSU men’s basketball team and the rest of the students on campus, talk begins to turn to the return of game action Saturday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against ULM at 7 p.m.

The game will be televised by Cox Sports Television and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM) and in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net. Tickets for the game are on sale at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office or at LSUtix.net

The team has been juggling practice schedules ever since returning from Florida and the Old Spice Classic and hasn’t played since the 70-68 win over Butler in overtime in the third place contest. The ULM game starts a series of five games, four at home, that will lead the Tigers into the start of Southeastern Conference play on Tuesday, Jan. 7, against Tennessee.

Tickets for home games, including all SEC games with the exception of Kentucky, are available at LSUtix.net as well as mini-plans that can be used throughout the season.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media Wednesday afternoon prior to practice and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement…
“We’re really excited this week about getting back into as close of our regular routine as we possibly can with finals going on prior to our game on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana-Monroe is a team that is sitting there at 3-1. Their lone loss came against a very good Kansas basketball team, and they played Kansas extremely well for the first half and made their runs there in the second half as well.

“I thought our guys did a tremendous job at the tournament in Orlando. I thought it served a great purpose for us in the parameter in terms of where we are in this early part of the season. As a basketball coach, I was excited to have an opportunity to go into the venue that we went into and play against three challenging basketball teams. Having three games in four days was a good experience for our guys, and I thought overall they played really well, especially considering the circumstances. A new basketball team with a lot of new guys – we are asking to play certain roles, and I thought our guys did a great job. Even after a setback in the second game, I thought they did an excellent job coming back against a very good Butler basketball team. They had to concentrate and focus throughout against that team and make the necessary plays down the stretch to have an opportunity to win that basketball game.

“It’s been tough on this 14-day layoff for finals not playing – trying to make sure that we are able to get some practices in and really give guys adequate time being off to concentrate and focus on their studies at hand and to take care of their finals because they are student-athletes. We want to make sure that they can maximize their time to be the best that they can during this week and preparation for their finals.”

On where Coach Jones thinks his team stacks up to the rest of the country…
“I think the good part is the caliber of competition was there in Orlando. They had one team I think that ranked in the top five in the country in Oklahoma State and Memphis, a top-20 basketball team. We had the opportunity to play one of those teams (Memphis) and see the way that they fared after having a matchup with Oklahoma State. I thought it allowed us to look at it as a basketball team and saying, ‘If in fact we are able to execute and take care of our business, we have the size, strength and quickness of our basketball team.’ It just comes down to executing at a certain level night in and night out on both ends of the floor – that you give yourself a chance to be successful in those games. I think throughout the country that’s what we see that we are able to compete at that level.”

On the team playing well without Andre Stringer and Anthony Hickey not shooting much…
“It’s about balance. I think even in the Memphis game if we had a more balanced scoring attack, there’s a chance that there could have been a difference in that game. Taking care of the basketball – I think we had 24 turnovers in that basketball game, and I thought it came back to haunt us late. We’ve got guys that are shooting very good field goal percentages. Our post guys, Johnny [O’Bryant III] and Jordan Mickey, with their inside game – I think you have to make sure that you have a good balance, getting touches there and attempts as well. Then, I think our guards they need to be able to take advantage of when their getting double-downed on especially with the post guys when they are getting double-teamed they are making the right decision in terms of gapping the defenses and taking the shots that we need. It’s real important that we execute and knock those shots down against good competition as well.”

On the break benefitting the health of Jarell Martin
“It’s good for him. I think one of the things (about) a high ankle sprain sometimes is something that is really hard to come back from.  It really takes a while to get people comfortable back out there on their legs, and I think Jarell has had an opportunity to go through that process. We’re hoping that we can eventually get him back to 100 percent, and I think we were able to see through the tournament that he probably wasn’t full-speed. Right now, he’s probably still not at 100 percent, but we feel that he’s really given us some positive minutes in the games that he has had an opportunity to play in. I think it speaks to the talent level that he has and the decisions that he is able to make on the floor even when he is not at 100 percent.”

On the number of turnovers during the Memphis game…
“Some of the things in that game if you look back are not normal or natural. It’s something that I haven’t seen before. I think Johnny [O’Bryant III] had four offensive fouls. That was four of the 10 turnovers that he had. We had other guys out there with offensive fouls as well. When you talk about the 24 fouls, I think maybe six or seven of those could have been offensive fouls which means that we had the ball and just weren’t in the right place and the right time or putting ourselves in a position to allow that happen. We just have to do a better job. Again, if we have 11 turnovers or 12 turnovers the way that we play – you understand because we play really quick and fast. We are going to take some chances on long passes with the ball. We are going to make sure and are hopeful to execute a much higher percentage of those than we have. If we are able to do that night in and night out, because of the way we play some great things are going to happen for us. But when you get to that number, 24, which was a high for us, that’s not a good night for us, and I thought it cost us because I thought we shot really well from the field. I think we shot over 50 percent from the field if I am not mistaken in that game. You take those turnovers and get attempts out of it then we could have been looking at a different result.”

On the type of team Louisiana-Monroe is…
“They are a quick basketball team and had a very good game against Kansas. They’re a good passing basketball team, and they made some plays. Their guards made shots. They played against Northwestern (State) who we’ve played against as well. I think Northwestern (State) may have had them down 15 or 16 – they came back, got the game in overtime and wound up winning it. They’re a fast-paced, quick basketball team and rangy. (ULM Head Coach) Keith Richard has done a tremendous job of putting together and assembling this basketball team.”

On his relationship with ULM Coach Keith Richard…
“Keith and I actually played AAU basketball together. He was here in Baton Rouge (and) played at Redemptorist High School with Howard Carter. When I was in the ninth grade, I was able to go on a trip to West Virginia and play in the AAU national tournament. He was a part of our team, and we’ve really somewhat kept in touch since then. Be it through the coaching professions when he was at Louisiana Tech and during his time here (at LSU) when he was an assistant when he was here with (former coach) Trent (Johnson). Then, we were in the same league with me coaching at North Texas and him being at Louisiana-Monroe. We had opportunities to play against each other during that time.”

On stressing execution to his team…
“I think when it (execution) becomes natural to you – you’re out there, you’ve played enough and I think the repetition helps. When you’re able to get enough practices in, it allows you to go without doing a whole lot of thinking because our offense becomes natural to you. You know where your teammates need the ball, and they are going to do a better job of scoring from you knowing each other. Along with execution, you have to do it at a high speed and a high level. I think after you have enough repetition out there – that has a tendency of taking care of a lot of that if you’re doing it the proper way.”

On Jordan Mickey handling his early success…
“I’ll tell you it’s been great because he hasn’t changed at all. You look at the way that he plays; he’s really stoic out there. His facial impression never changes be it he block a shot, knock down a shot or make a great pass. He’s just the same. It’s great when you have someone that plays at that type of level. They don’t get up, they don’t get too down and they just play the game. He’s really been able to make an impact for us. For him to come in averaging 12 or 13 points and seven or eight rebounds as a freshman and the impact that he had on each of our games – he hasn’t taken any steps back. It’s really been good for us and certainly a great bright spot in the program.”

On Malik Morgan’s defensive evolution…
“I thought Malik was really good in the Old Spice Tournament down there in Orlando. I thought he performed well in all three games. Not only that, I thought he arrived back here, and we started practice – he’s one of the guys who had a really good practice for us as well. He’s done a tremendous job in terms of his energy and what he’s bringing. I think he sees that opportunity from Orlando. The impact that he’s made on the team, not only him but Shavon [Coleman], what they’re able to do together is something he can look to and really take a lot from. That’s really been a big plus for us, and I think it’ll really help him.”

 

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