Men's Basketball Works During Mardi Gras Holiday

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

BATON ROUGE – LSU took advantage of the Mardi Gras Holidays to get some concentrated work in for the final week of the regular season that begins Thursday night in Nashville at Vanderbilt.

LSU and Vanderbilt meet at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN2 and the game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network.

LSU is 17-11 and 8-8 in a four-way tie for sixth place while Vanderbilt is 15-13 and 7-9 in the SEC. LSU closes out its regular season at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Saturday in the final game to start in the regular season at 4 p.m. on FSN against Georgia.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media Tuesday afternoon and here are some of his comments from today's session:


Opening Statement…
“Following a setback on Saturday against a good Florida basketball team, we had an opportunity to get back to work (Monday) in preparation for what we would consider really two tough games against two really good basketball teams – Vandy on Thursday and then turn around with an early game on Saturday against a Georgia team that has really put it together and really been playing well down the stretch. Vandy, if you look at their scores and the games that they've played in where they've had setbacks, they've been extremely close. They played well in the second half, made plays and have been really good at home. We obviously have to go into their venue on Senior Day and make sure we go in there and play well and try to get on a streak prior to going into our conference tournament which is about a week away.”

On the opportunity to move up seeding wise for next week's SEC Tournament …
“I think the schedule will just play itself out. Right now when you look at it, I think they've got maybe – Arkansas' schedule and Tennessee's schedule I think are favorable for them where the games are and what their records are right now. For us, we just need to be playing well going into the conference tournament. Once we get there, get on our streak and have an opportunity to hopefully – if it's four games that we have to compete in to win a championship that we are ready, prepared and playing the right way at the right time to get that done.”

On the seeding for the NCAA Tournament…
“You're talking about the NCAA Tournament, and we're talking about preparation for our next games. Those things will take care of themselves as we progress. We go into the tournament hopeful to win it. That's our mission, not to try to prepare and win enough games to get into the NCAA Tournament. Our mission is to win the (SEC) Tournament if we're playing well enough and compete. That's what we would love to do. Not just go there to try and win a couple of games and see what happens. It just depends on what they do. The only thing we can control is how we play. You never know what's going to happen over the next two ball games, and we're all left with two on our schedule. As I said, I think when you talk about that fourth position to get the double-bye is what I was really referencing to. I think when you look at Tennessee's schedule and Arkansas' schedule, I think it's favorable for them to maybe be around that fourth spot for that double-bye unless something happens and Georgia slips down. One of those three teams, I think has a chance to possibly be in that for the fourth spot to get the double bye is what I was referencing to.”

On if he's ever spoken to Jordan Mickey about controlling his blocked shots…
“No – I'm just glad that it's not going toward the rim at the end of the day, but I think he's done a good enough job in terms of trying to get there and make plays. A lot of times, he's really coming over from strong help side help position to make a lot of plays on the ball. If we could get it and it stays in, it's great. We're just looking for that next possession or next stop. There hasn't been a lot of talk about it.”

On Jordan Mickey's skills at blocking shots transitioning to college from high school…
“I think that's what happened. He has a knack for blocking shots, and he's really good at it. When you look at coming into the season whether or not he and Jarell (Martin) at the four spot, rotating and splitting minutes there and trying to find minutes for him. But he really came on at that four spot. Jarell had been dominant and really been good for us. It has allowed us to possibly put Jarell in other situations early on and play more minutes at the three because of his development and how quick he developed at that spot and the impact he made.”

On the concern of fatigue for the players with Malik Morgan out…
“I am not so much concerned about fatigue, but I can tell you the absence of Malik Morgan – it's noticeable because it was the rotation that we developed as a team and what he was able to bring to our team. We're not allowed to do that right now so other guys are having to play extended minutes. We just have to be more cautious about when they're on the floor, timeouts and how we utilize those. The rotation that we've tried to get into a little bit – without Malik it's been a little bit different for us.”

On what he saw in Jordan Mickey in high school…
“What I liked about him more so than his shot-blocking ability is how vocal he was always on the floor. It was almost like he always had everybody in the right place. He would talk – position, pointing and all of those things. When that happens, that means that you're in the right place because he's kind of directing traffic. I used to love that about him. He probably doesn't do it as much now being a freshman on our team, but that's something we're hopeful – we want him to make sure that he gets back to that because that's his ability to play defense has really been good. I mean you can see where offensively, he's a really good scorer and shoots a high percentage. He doesn't take a lot of shots and has been very effective. He's got a good balance with his game.”

On if anything has been tweaked for the conference tournament…
“No – mostly the things we've always done and been pretty good at is that we didn't change a whole lot during the season. Guys adapt and learn the system –they're more familiar with it. As the season progresses, we've always gotten better down the stretch. Guys are familiar with each other. They're playing, and they have the ability to really feed off of each other. We've been really consistent with that. We're hopeful that that would be the case as well although we've got some new faces that are on the team, and we're depending highly and relying on some young guys really to make plays. When you look at what Florida has been able to do over a period of time, that's what they have when you talk about the senior leadership that they've got out there starting four seniors. Guys have been through it. They've played, and they've been into that system for quite some time. That's what you get. We're hopeful that as the season has progressed that our young guys have been able to grasp and our older guys are fine-tuning. Some good things will happen for us, and we'll be able to play down that stretch the way that we need to.”

On the team being able to “flip the switch” on the road at Vanderbilt…
“I'll say this – I think we've executed  especially the Ole Miss game, we've executed and got exactly what we wanted. Unfortunately, a shot doesn't go down. But in terms of executing at the end of the day I guess when you say execute everything has really fallen – if you execute and gets this play – you go the wide open look … the shot goes in, game over. We've gotten exactly in some of those games – in particular the Ole Miss game – got the look we wanted. There were 20-something seconds on the clock. We ran it down – didn't give them an opportunity –get a shot at the free throw line that you know if that shot goes down, what happens, but it didn't go. Moving forward, our guys don't think like that. When we go on the road, they think we can win. We left here Friday thinking we could win at Florida Saturday, and it didn't happen. It's just a mindset, an attitude that you've got to have, but I don't think they ever go in feeling tight or uncomfortable because the games that they've had – they've had success in and the ones they've had setbacks in - we don't think that way. We just look for that next approach or that next opportunity.”

On the legacy of Andre Stringer
“I know the last two years, I'm fortunate that I've had an opportunity to be a part of it. To watch him work, prepare and get ready – what he's been able to do for the team. To be a senior like that on the team and to accept whatever role that he may have been put in and to have the success that he's had in that role, he's been a scorer for us. I think he's probably shooting a higher percentage than he's shot in the past be it the two or from behind the three-point line. He's been really effective. He's improved as a defender. His leadership has continued to improve. He's just one of those guys that you love having around and on the team. He has a chance to make big plays. When he's had subpar games, he's always come back and really excelled in his next night out. We're excited, and he's certainly one of those players – when it's all over, we are going to miss him. At the same time, we want to make sure we can do everything that we possibly can to make sure that he has a wonderful senior year and then finishing it the right way. That's what it's all about. That's for all of those guys but especially your seniors – you want to make sure that they go out the right way, and that you're putting it out there on the line for them day in and day out so they can be as successful as possible. […] If you look over the course of time, he's played pretty well. He's had a stretch there where he's made some big plays. If it's not for his ability to shoot that ball from outside, we're not in some of those games including the Ole Miss game. If he doesn't have the game that he had at Ole Miss, we're not there. He had some good looks in the Florida game that didn't go down, but we know that he's capable of bouncing back. That doesn't faze him. He's not one of those guys if you can talk about a slump – that the next shot he gets and is open, you can assure he'll release it and pull the trigger on it. I don't worry about his confidence.”





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