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LSU head coach Johnny Jones
Photo by:Steve Franz, LSU Athletics Staff Photographer
Jones Hosts His First Basketball Media Day
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Published: October 10, 2012, 03:36 PM (CT)
Updated: October 10, 2012, 05:54 PM (CT)
by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports), LSU Sports Interactive

BATON ROUGE -- First-year head coach Johnny Jones held his first LSU Basketball Media Day on Wednesday, as he and his squad previewed the 2012-13 season at the LSU Basketball Practice Facility.

The team is allowed to begin official practices on Friday evening in preparation for the season opener on Nov. 9 against UC Santa Barbara. The Tigers will host a free exhibition contest on Nov. 9 against Arkansas-Monticello.

This will be Jones' 13th year in his career as a head coach, having served as the interim coach for one year at Memphis (1999-2000) and after a year on the staff at Alabama, the last 12 years as the head coach the University of North Texas.

Jones discussed style of play, how he feels the team has come through pre-season workouts and positions some of the returning and new players may be put in this season with his style of play.

The team will join the women's basketball team on Thursday night from 6-8 p.m. at the Maravich Center for the "Pass A Good Time" event that is free and open to the public before settling in to the daily practice routine.

Here are some of Coach Jones' comments from today's session with the media:

Opening Statement ...
"First of all, I'm excited to be here and really thrilled to see all of you here being a part of what we really enjoy doing. We know that Friday is a big day for us. I've been looking forward to it since April 13 when I first had an opportunity to be offered this opportunity ... always looking forward to practice. You know that shortly after practice [begins], the season is on the horizon. That's something that we're really looking forward to and to get going. In the interim, we've obviously had a lot of work to do out there in the community, on the recruiting trail, and at the same time, trying to get prepared for this day. We've had some exciting times with our young men with the individual skill work since April and through the summer. We think that we've made a great deal of progress. Unfortunately, for us, we are not as big as we'd like to be, but that's not something that we have an opportunity to cry about. We think skill wise, with our guards, probably not as experienced as we would like, but we like the attitude and the mentality of the guys that are here. We look forward to the challenges that lie ahead for us."

On bringing "LSU Basketball" back to the fans ...
"I think the fan support has been tremendous, especially the opportunities that we've had to be out among our great fans. We knew that coming in. Being at LSU before, we know the importance of LSU, of the university, and the role that the athletic department plays in that. You look at football and the support in baseball and basketball in the past and winning, that environment that it creates. I think our marketing and promotions folks have done a tremendous job from the onset. They want to make sure that they have something special out there, and I think it's up to us to make sure that we put the right product out there on the floor that they want to be a part of. I think not only the right product, but I think playing a certain way that they will embrace. That's something that we look forward to doing."

On recruiting conversations ...
"I think initially you have to talk about this great city of Baton Rouge that the young people have an opportunity to be a part of. We talk about this wonderful institution that there are a variety of degree programs that they have an opportunity to graduate from and the success of a lot of people that we can point to that have graduated from here that are extremely successful. Then, we talk about the basketball side. The tradition from, you name it, the Bob Pettit days, to Pete Maravich, to Shaquille O'Neal, to the times when we were here on the Final Four teams from '81 to '86, and the special times and opportunities that were here. I often talk about the times that I've driven up to the arena here and there are lines around the building, not the day of the game, but the day before the game. I tell them that's something that we have to get back to, having those types of crowds and that type of excitement and enthusiasm among our fan base to get here early, stay late and be a part of something special. It's easy for to paint that picture to them because I was here before when that happened."

On lack of size on the team ...
"If I had my preference, I'd like to have some big guys who can run fast and jump high and be a part of that, or we can really mix in with those guards as well. Again, we're going to have to really play to our strength. We have guys who range from around 6'5-to-6'6 that will really be able to help us. We'll have to do a little bit more scrambling on the defensive end of the floor in the way that we play. We are just going to have to keep the floor spaced. It's going to be important that we shoot the ball well. We have guys who are capable of doing that. It's just making sure that our chemistry is down early enough, that guys understand good shot, bad shot, and making sure that we try to stick to that for the most part."

On leadership of Johnny O'Bryant III and Anthony Hickey ...
"It was definitely a concern coming in, but I think that the best thing a lot of times about freshmen is that they become sophomores. To see those two guys, the transition that they've made from year one to the beginning of year two, it's been great for us. Both of them have shown tremendous leadership. Both of them have the extreme desire to win. Winning is important to them. I think that they've done an excellent job with the new guys coming in trying to set that groundwork, and the foundation for them. They've been great leaders for our team in our early morning workouts and a lot of times when we've gone through our individual skill work. They've shown some true leadership, and I think that will carry over into the season. They're the only two guys who really have started for a considerable amount of time last year and played extended minutes for us."

Comparing Shane Hammink with his father Geert ...
"Well, I think Shane will be a very successful player here at LSU. His dad was obviously a great player, played behind one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, behind Shaquille. He stepped in and did an excellent job his senior year and wound up being drafted. I think his son has the potential to not only be a player but an impact player here. He has great length, he can really shoot the basketball. I think his biggest deal is just catching up with the speed of the game. It won't be any different than any other freshman that we have on this team. I think the speed of the game and how physical the game is, is something that he'll definitely have to make an adjustment too. When that happens, I think some great things are in store for him."

On possible combinations on the floor ...
"Well I think because our lack of numbers, there is not a whole lot that we're going to have to really deal with. The big thing that concerns most people is how often we see Hickey and Stringer on the floor because of their size. I think that we an opportunity to see that combination out there. I think that when you look at Malik Morgan, who has been really good, Shavon Colemon, I think Corban Collins has come in. and he's done an excellent job as well. So, there are a lot of combinations we have an opportunity to go with. Obviously with our big guys, Johnny [O'Bryant III] will be a regular in the middle. I think we'll be able to do some things with Jalen [Courtney], and I think Eddie [Ludwig] will find himself in the middle, more often than not, inside playing one of the power spots. I've been really pleased with Andrew Del Piero, and I think he's going to hopefully be able to give us some quality minutes out there because if he can continue to improve where he has from April through the beginning of this season and continue to work hard, I think he'll have an opportunity to play some really quality minutes for us. I think there will be a lot of combinations out there that we'll have. With the great shooting [Andre] Stringer, it will be hard pressed not to find some key areas for him to be very productive for us."

On Johnny O'Bryant III's role this season ...
"We tell him, most of the time, that he is the four or a three man, but he's just going to be doing a lot of things that the five man will do. I don't think he's really worried. I think because our style of play offensively where he'll have an opportunity to play out on the floor, pick-and-pop and face the basket, I think it's going to be to Johnny's advantage. I think it's been explained to him it's going to be difficult for a true center to really guard Johnny out on the perimeter. He's capable of facing up, knocking down shots. He can utilize his quickness and beat bigger people off the bounce or knock down shots out there if we can get him in some matchup problems. That's what he's looking forward to, so it hadn't been anything that he's really shrugged his shoulders or anything about at all. I think if you look at the make-up of this team, there is not a whole lot we can do about it."

On the transition of taking over Trent Johnson's team ...
"Well I think, as a basketball coach, you just have to really coach to your strength. I think you have to really coach to the strength of your team. I thought Trent did excellent job, you look at this team last year what they did defensively. How they held teams to low scoring games in some of the games that they won early on. That's important. It's just more of my personality in terms of how we like to play and the number of guys and caliber kids that we're trying to recruit. When I look at the makeup of this team, I think you can devote -- now just do the other and try to play a little bit faster. I think because the lack of size inside. We'd love to obviously have Justin Hamilton back here. I've been waiting for him to get down in that post area, but because he's not here, we will choose to play a little bit faster because of the makeup of the team. I think a lot to sprint-to-screen action and getting in gaps will help us. I don't know if they would have been able to utilize Justin Hamilton as much. Even if we had a special player like that, I think we would have an opportunity to play different as well."

On competition in the SEC ...
"I think if you look at a team like Kentucky, in their own right, they won a national championship last year. They've had a tremendous recruiting class, another No. 1 recruiting class. The good thing about basketball, you have to line up and play the game every night. You can't mail a victory or a defeat in. That's something that we look forward to. We look forward to going out there and being prepared, playing at a high level, and hopefully we can execute at that high level and force our opponents into mistakes. Hopefully we're in that game in the last three or four minutes and anything can happen. That's something we look forward to. I think there's a great deal of talent in our league. There are teams that are returning players with a lot of experience. We're going to have to play high level of basketball to be able to compete and to be able to win. That's something we'll embrace and something look forward to."

On advice given by former Coach Dale Brown ...
"He really hasn't, Coach [Brown] hasn't been around a lot. He travels a lot doing his speaking engagements and things that he's really been involved in. I think that because of my time away, in the body of work that he's had an opportunity to see the success that we've had; he hasn't offered a whole lot of advice. I think because of my time here before, it wasn't like it was a new area that I was coming into, very familiar, so it's really been good. I can tell I will be calling on him from time-to-time as the season approaches and as we go through the season asking different questions as well.

On impact of Freshman Corban Collins ...
"Corban, I think will be very competitive. I think it's been great to see the two guys really compete against each other at that point guard spot. Anthony Hickey, obviously having that one year of experience under his belt at this level, playing against quality competition night in and night out. It's tough to get that anywhere else. I think when Corban has an opportunity to be out there on the floor against that caliber of competition night in and night out some great things have a tendency of happening for him. He will be a freshman, but I think when you have an opportunity to see him and his build, he won't back down from anybody. I think you'll look at him as somewhat like a Hickey when he came in as a freshman. He's a guy that can play quality minutes. Again, you can find both of those guys on the floor at the same time because both are great decision makers. It's something that we look forward to exploring as well."

On addition of Charles Carmouche ...
"Well, I had the opportunity to coach against him when he was there at UNO. I tried to actually recruit him and bring him on board with us [at North Texas]. I think he's a fantastic basketball player. He's savvy, a good defender, and he's a really good shooter as well. So, there are a lot of areas and needs that we've had coming in to this season. I think he's a guy that will help us in those areas. In defending, he plays with a sense of urgency. He has some toughness about him and can really score. So, I think he is really a great addition to our team."

On Assistant Coach Robert Kirby ...
"Robert's been in this business for a long time. He's one of those guys that you can't really put any limitations on. He can go from coast-to-coast because of his connections and in the recruiting world, because of AAU teams and over the years he's had an opportunity to recruit guys from California, even there when he was at Mississippi State. He spent the last two years out at Georgetown. They're a national program and recruit all over as well. So, his ability to reach forward in recruiting is great for us not only recruiting wise, but he's a very solid basketball coach as well. I had the chance of recruiting against him during his time at Mississippi State. I was able to see the success that he had and how hard that we worked night in and night out and year after year in helping build that program. I think that because of his presence, he's one of the reasons they were at the top of that division, and they were able to win that division at times as well. So, I have a great deal of respect for his ability out there recruiting."

On bringing in high quality non-conference opponents to play here ...
"I think it's important. I think one of the things we have to make sure to understand is that we are one of the best leagues in the country. Those guys are guaranteed to come in here at least nine times throughout the season. We will definitely want to continue to bring in high quality teams in as well. We want to make sure that we have a great, balanced schedule. We don't have the luxury like a lot of NBA teams to play a lot of exhibition games leading in. You have two [exhibition] opportunities. I think anytime you have a young and inexperienced team you have to make sure that your schedule is built so that you have ample opportunity to give your guys chances out there on the floor. You want to see your team in action, so when that tough part of your season comes around, which is that conference, you're playing against the tough competition so that you know which type of team that you have. If you don't balance your schedule, you won't have an opportunity to see that. We will play a very challenging schedule year in and year out, non-conference leading up to an always tough conference schedule."
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LSU PLAYERS

GUARD ANTHONY HICKEY

On Coach Johnny Jones ...
"Coach Jones plays everything up-tempo, so everything's in my hands now. I get to play my game. I get to push it every time. I don't have to slow it down. I'm going to be in control of how the game is going to be, tempo-wise. It's always good to have that coach, and that point guard on the same point. That's a great start. If you have a great coach and a great point guard, it will take you so far. We're going to put more points on the board, get back and we're going to defend. There's going to be more of adding more points on the board."

On his leadership role on the team ...
"I'm getting ready for the new beginning we're going to have. I've picked up on a whole lot, especially knowing what I had to do last year and how it's different from what I have to do this year. I'm working on being more vocal, being a big part of the team on and off the court and just pushing the team to anything."

GUARD ANDRE STRINGER

On the season ...
"I hope to see us get out there and show everybody the work that we have put in and the work that we will continue to put in. We have a group of guys that are going to work extremely hard, and we know our work is going to pay off."

On playing under Coach Johnny Jones ...
"I definitely think we're going to be a much faster team and a more exciting team. Obviously, we're going to get up and down, defend and extend people. It's going to be a lot of fun."

On the newcomers ...
"I think they're going to bring a very big contribution to our team. Those guys are young, and they have young legs. That's a good thing. They're excited to play, and they're going to bring a lot to the team. We have guys that can shoot, and they all have a lot of skills. Those young guys are really going to excite some people."

CENTER ANDREW DEL PIERO

On improving and preparing for the season ...
"Conditioning has been a huge thing for me. Hopefully I'm going to be on the floor more this year, so I'm going to have to do some more up and downs than I'm used to. (Assistant) Coach (Robert) Kirby's been really great working with me and my post moves. (Assistant) Coach (Charlie) Leonard and all the guys have been really helpful."

On playing with scholarship this season ...
"It's tough being a walk-on. It's hard to feel like an equal to the other guys, because you can feel like you're put on the backburner sometimes. It's provided me with a lot of motivation. I feel like I have another reason to add on to my reasons for being here and working as hard as I can to get better at my game."

On being known as the tuba player ...
"I'm going to have to prove myself. I've been in the process of proving myself to my teammates for a long time. I think I've earned some respect in that regard. Obviously, the fans have yet to see anything. There are going to be a lot of naysayers until I do something good on the court. Hopefully, I'll be able to prove myself. All I can do right now is play hard when game time rolls around."

On Coach Johnny Jones ...
"It's been exciting. I know we're going to run the ball a lot and play a lot more full court offense. That's why I've been working on my conditioning. It's been a big concentration of mine this summer. I know he likes to have big guys that can carry the ball if they need to."

FORWARD JALEN COURTNEY

On preparing for the upcoming season ...
"It's exciting. It's pure excitement. I can't wait to get started Friday. I'm ecstatic. There's a lot of excitement from us, the fans and the coaches. It's really upbeat."

On playing under Coach Johnny Jones ...
"So far, the playing style and the personalities of the coaches are very different. As far as our interaction with them, it's pretty much the same. They want to work hard so they push us. We work hard so we push each other. At the end of the day, they want wins."

On newcomers ...
"They're really talented. I'm curious to see how they respond to the first game jitters, the first SEC games and the trials within the season itself. They're a really talented group, and they're really confident. They work really hard. I'm excited for them."

 

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