Jones, Tigers Prep for Game at Georgia

LSU Men's Basketball
LSU Men's Basketball
Steve Franz
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE – LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones visited with the media on Tuesday in preparation for the team’s first Thursday game of the season at Georgia.

The Tigers and Bulldogs will meet at 6 p.m. CST on Thursday and that game will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network. It is the first of two games in 45 hours for LSU as the Tigers host Auburn on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Maravich Center. Tickets for that game are available at It will be alumni weekend, honoring past members of the LSU basketball family and the first 5,000 fans will receive an LSU Rally Towel.

Here are some of the comments from Coach Jones from his session on Tuesday:

Opening Statement…
“After two solid performances at home last week, we look forward to going back out on the road Thursday to be challenged again. We are in a very tough conference and play in very tough venues. We look forward to getting back home on Saturday for a great afternoon to an Auburn team who has continued to improve each game. We get to be a part of a festive weekend with alumni weekend this Saturday. The team is excited; we are excited. I think our guys have done a tremendous job and really would like to congratulate Johnny O'Bryant (III) and Jordan Mickey for being nominated again this week. Johnny O'Bryant III was named (SEC) Player of the Week and Jordan Mickey (SEC) Freshman of the Week again. Not only those two guys, but I think a great deal of credit goes out to their teammates. Because I think the way that they have played, shared the basketball, played well together and have come together to win basketball games has allowed those guys to be able to be standouts for our basketball team.”

On what needs to be brought on the road to be successful…
“Consistency. I think our team has done a tremendous job on the road, and I don’t say that lightly. I think anytime you go to a venue like Ole Miss, a team that’s sitting at 6-2 in the league, and we have the ball on the last possession to have an opportunity to win. I think we played well, but the shot didn’t go. We put ourselves in a similar situation at Alabama to have a chance to be in position to win. Those are two different venues. I think both of those teams played well, and I think we were only a couple of possessions from winning. We understand what it takes. It’s just a matter of getting over that hump and making plays down the stretch. We’ve been in that situation at home as well. I think our team knows that our team is capable. It’s a matter of getting that behind you like at South Carolina, the first road game of the season for us in terms of conference play.”

On playing zone defense the past few games…
“I thought the zone allowed us to be bigger and stronger. We were able to rebound better as well. (We were) looking for some certain combinations that I think go well on the floor. I think the zone was able to provide that, cover a lot of area and answer a lot of questions for us. I think we are still getting into a regular rotation with our basketball team. I can play man or zone, and I think that’s a plus for our team that we have – the flexibility to be able to do that with the guys we have.”

On Georgia playing better this year…
“I think you have opportunities for other guys on the team to express their abilities on the floor when you don’t have a dominate scorer like Caldwell-Pope. A lot of guys usually stay in the background. I can remember when Georgia had a similar player in Dominique Wilkins in what he was able to do for his team. Then, he goes hardship in the next year. I think they wound up in the final four and that happens. You allow guys to play as a team. They come around and really come together. When you look out there, you have to understand that all of those guys are on Division I scholarships, excellent basketball players and parts of solid recruiting classes. Those guys have an opportunity to perform as sophomores, juniors and to have an opportunity to play as a senior. They wind up playing well for you.”

On Charles Mann’s improvement since last year…
“I think he’s done a lot of things better just a year later. He’s bigger, stronger, more adaptive to what he needs to be doing, but I think he just has more responsibility. He’s counted on a lot more this year than last season.”

On Anthony Hickey’s maturation from last year…
“With the guys we have on this basketball team, Hickey has a lot of opportunities to make plays with other guys. We have more playmakers on this basketball team than we had last year in some key spots. When you look at the four (forward) position, we have Mickey there or Jarell Martin. Those guys are able to make plays. They are bigger, stronger, quicker getting to the rim, can step out and make shots. Johnny O'Bryant III, it gives him a little more freedom as well.”

On the point guard being an extension of the coach…
“I think he tries to do his best on the floor in terms of initiating. He’s a little bit different. Anthony’s really good in the open floor. He’s great in creating and initiating our offense. Our guys have done a great job, have been able to feed off of that and make plays, regardless of what we’re running. His job is to make sure we’re getting in our sets, and he has to make sure he initiates that. But he’s really good in the open floor. When you talk about two tough teams we’ve played in Kentucky, a good defensive basketball team, and Arkansas, probably the most feared because of their ability to run at you and trap, they are a very aggressive basketball team. For Anthony, with the number of times he had to handle the basketball, to only have one turnover in that game, I think it says a lot. He had only one turnover in those two games and the number of assists that he had. I think that shows growth in his game. Then, stepping to the free throw line in crucial situations and knocking those down.”

On how close last week was to his team’s best basketball…
“I think we’ve got a ways to go. We certainly felt good about last week, but we’re one game from the halfway point of nine conference games. When you get into February and where we are now, you want to start fine-tuning what you need to do and really start being at your best at what you can hang your hat on. We’re getting there, but we certainly have a ways to go. Our guys have done a tremendous job of working, making sure we get there.”

On what makes Jordan Mickey a great shot blocker…
“Timing, his instincts, seven-foot-three and a half inch wingspan, and he’s got a nice vertical for a guy his size. He’s very talented and gifted as well. Some of the things that he has, it’s hard to teach.”

On what his presence brings to opposing offenses….
“I think if you look at a lot of the teams that we’ve played, because of the numbers and people have had the opportunity to watch him on tape, they know he’s a good shot blocker. When you come in there, that’s an intimidating factor. If you happen to drive it in there, you know that he’s around. He’s capable of coming over and helping. ”Even if he doesn’t block the shot, sometimes he will alter the shot just because he’s there. Other guys will turn shots down because they have no idea where he may be. He can come from the weak side and block shots. So, he certainly makes an impact for our team just by being on the floor. Mind you, the other two guys back there are not chopped liver. I’m telling you. Johnny O'Bryant can go get it. Jarell Martin can go get it, and Shavon Coleman is capable of going get shots in the lane. We have several guys who are very capable. If you are sitting there trying to pump fake and get out of it with Jordan, one of those other guys can come get you as well.”

On if rebounding well in the zone has made him more comfortable running it…
“It helps. To rebound out of it, you have to have size. You’re not assigned any one player. That’s the tough part about playing zone and rebounding. Now guys are rebounding in areas. We’ve done a good job of it I think because of our size, strength and forcing guys to play over the top of us. The shot-blocking ability allows us to build a wall in there sometimes as well. It’s built in. Playing man, people can pull you away from the basket at times, but Jordan is actually playing the wing and Johnny in playing the middle of the zone. He’s gotten a lot of blocks be it fast breaks, it’s not just from our set defense a lot of times.”

On Jordan Mickey being a coach’s dream because of his love to play defense…
“A lot of people get excited about knocking down a three, certain dunks, making big shots or whatever, but Jordan has really been able to enjoy his shot-blocking ability over the years and through his short career here. He’s really known for that. He’s gotten a lot of credit for it. People get excited about it and a lot of things get written about it. I’m sure there’s a little edge for him and it’s something that he would like to hang his hat on. He’s excited about it and that’s something that’s huge for him.”

On Johnny O’Bryant III’s recent offensive run…
“Johnny has been on a tear. Offensively, he’s shooting a really high field-goal percentage for us inside and out. We are hopeful that he will continue to stay at a high percentage in the areas that he’s shooting from. What Johnny has been able to do in these last few games, he’s been able to put a lot of pressure on opposing teams because he’s played at the rim, created opportunities for himself to get fouled and got us in the foul count to get us to the free-throw line early. When he’s able to do that, Jordan Mickey is able to do it. Jarell is able to do it. It really helps us. Johnny has really done that. Then, when he’s been able to step away from the basket, it has really given problems to the opponent. Because if they double him and he’s got the ball away from the basket, we’ve got guys cutting to the basket. He’s been doing a great job of feeding them. The biggest thing that Johnny has been able to do as of late, he’s been really patient with the basketball. It’s paid off for him, and he’s really been able to pick his spots.”





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