BATON ROUGE - LSU men's basketball fans are encouraged to arrive early on Wednesday night for the final home game of the 2012 season as senior night ceremonies for Chris Bass, Storm Warren and Malcolm White will begin at 7:45 p.m.
The contest between LSU and Tennessee is set for an 8:04 p.m. start and will be televised live by CSS and COX4 and televised on tape delay following the New Orleans Hornets game on Cox Sports TV.
The three seniors will be honored in brief ceremonies that will feature a video and then the formal introduction of the three seniors and their families prior to the team going to the dressing room to receive final instructions.
LSU is 17-11 and 7-7 in the league while Tennessee is 16-13 and 8-6. LSU will close out its regular season on Saturday at Auburn in a 1 p.m. game regionally televised by CBS. The Tigers could finish anywhere from a tie for third to ninth in the final standings.
Tickets for the LSU-Tennessee game Wednesday at the PMAC are available at the LSU Athletics Department and online at www.LSUtix.net. Shaquille O'Neal mini-bobble heads will be given away to the first 3,000 fans.
Earlier Monday, Coach Trent Johnson met with the media and talked about Tennessee and also his three seniors, all on course to graduate in May, and whom he announced will start the final home game:
LSU Basketball Media Session
February 27, 2012
HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
"Practice could not come soon enough for a lot of reasons, but probably the most important reason is that the three guys [Chris Bass, Storm Warren and Malcolm White] that will be graduating in the spring. Three guys that have been a focal part of this program in terms of their leadership, the kind of kids they have been and the kind of men they have grown into be. Obviously, that is Chris Bass, Storm Warren and Malcolm White. It is real important that as a group collectively, and I am talking about all of us from managers, trainers and coaches, that we put our best foot forward to make sure these guys get out of here on a good note with their last game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
"Other than that, Tennessee is extremely, extremely physical. Their mental and physical toughness has been very impressive throughout the year. Coach Martin has done an exceptional job, in my opinion, in terms of implementing his philosophy. That group has done an exceptional job buying in, in terms of where they were projected to finish, what they lost and everything he inherited. I think he has done an exceptional job. This will probably be as physical of a group we will play all year. The good thing I like about it is they are predominantly a man team and there are no frills. Their whole program and their whole philosophy are built off of substance, which will be a challenge in itself."
On seniors all scheduled to graduate in May ...
"It is always important, but I think we are all aware of certain kids, school comes easy for them. Some of them it doesn't. I have two of my own. One of them had to work extremely hard and was a hell of a student. The other one it comes really easy for and that person wasn't a hell of student. But to see what Chris (Bass) has been through, what Malcolm (White) has been through and obviously with Storm's (Warren) situation and how he was raised. I am not so sure that I have ever been around three guys since I have been a head coach and an assistant coach where, for me, I would feel that I haven't been more proud of what they have accomplished. This whole thing to me is based off your social, your academic and what goes on the hardwood that is just gravy, so to speak. In wins and losses, sometimes, we lose sight of all of that. Chris, everyday, he walks into this gym, he has a smile on his face, everyday. Malcolm, what he has went through this year off the floor, for him not to lose sight of what is the most important thing in terms of he has to get back, take care of school and his role. Then obviously, like I said, Storm's situation is one that is really, really exceptional in my mind. What they have been through to graduate and more importantly to be on track to graduate early for two of them with the [academic] honor that Chris received earlier on in the year. I don't know if people really, and you can't, unless you are around them every day. You can't understand how they have worked and what they have done. It will be neat."
On the team having "fragile confidence" comparing the Ole Miss loss to the Kentucky loss ...
"That was a month ago, and that was Kentucky. My sense is that this group is going to get out here today and get after it really good. Get after it, compete hard and get ready for a good [Tennessee] team. You know what happened against Kentucky was about a month ago. We have learned from that and moved on. I can tell that by the bus ride home, and I can tell that by their approach to the video yesterday."
On if a "man" team like Tennessee will help Justin Hamilton...
"I think you have to attribute his play to what teams have been doing to him, and what we haven't been doing in terms of going inside-out. Our guys versus Ole Miss did not knock down shots, so there was a level of frustration. As much as you talk about it that this is going to happen, and they are going to come double team a man they have or so on and so forth, or you guys got to pass and cut or you got to pass and exchange on the perimeter. Until you get versus competition, it's different. I fully expect Justin to be better, but probably more so than Justin, let's not just single him out, I fully expect this group to be better. As we all know going into this year, there was not going to be any single guy to carry us. You know Justin has played extremely well. He has had some games where he has played well in terms of point production, but probably more so from the standpoint of him passing and defending. The big problem we had was not on the offensive end. The big problem we had here last game out was how easy it was for them [Ole Miss] to score and then the [defensive] breakdowns we had where guys were not taking charges. How many games have we been in where we play well and won where we have been taking charges? Our rotations broke down. I think it was way too easy for them to score. That puts a lot of pressure when you having to defend an athletic, strong and explosive team that was desperate and hungry. As opposed to worrying about scoring and getting back on track, we had one for whatever reason. We had one and now it's up to us to do something about it."
On Tennessee's Jarnell Stokes impact ...
"Physically, he is imposing. He has great hands. Obviously, he has a level of toughness to him from a mental standpoint in terms of what he has had to do school wise and do the right things all the time, that's mental toughness. It was not a secret that he was going to be ready to come in and have an impact. But I go back to their team now. I remember watching them over in Maui [during November], and I was like 'woo'. When they were over in Maui and they were playing Memphis and they were playing Duke, you can tell right now, you just don't go playing those kind of teams like that early in the year and just say 'Oh that is just one game'. You can say that there was a level of toughness there and there were some guys that could play. This was definitely going to be a team to be reckoned with. They have been pretty consistent in terms of how they have been all year long in a new system, with a new staff and all of those things they had to go through as kids in terms of the change."
On Storm Warren's development ...
"When he first got here, I may be off by a percentage base or two, he was about a 44-45 percent free throw shooter. I mean it was one of those deals. He couldn't knock down a 15-footer from the elbow. Now, he is a guy that when we run our five up, roll our five man and bring him back up they have to cover him. His sophomore year, he was shooting free throws in the 70s early on, but he is a free throw shooter. He has won a game for us [at Houston] making free throws. If you look at his turnover-assist ratio, in terms of his ability, how much he would catch it and drop it. You couldn't throw it to him in situations unless he was at a point-blank stop. But now you look at all that and how he has improved. As a coach I have always said this, you can talk to them and you can put them in repetitions. But it is their ability to listen, go out there and do it during the course of the game that shows a guy's improvement. We have two hours per week during individuals. His sophomore and junior year, as soon as that was over, he is there in the gym working on his 15-foot jump shot. The bottom line to me is Storm Warren has made himself as good of a basketball player as he can possibly make himself. Everything else goes off the floor, his approach has always been the same. It has always been the same."
On what a return to postseason basketball would mean to Chris Bass and Storm Warren ...
"It would be everything. It would be everything because basically that is saying that you are one of the how many best teams you are in the country. Obviously, it is how they came into this program, and they got an experience of that. But also I think they are smart enough and I know the share with their teammates to understand how hard that is. Winning is hard. Preparation is hard. All of that has been hard and nothing is promised to you. If you ask them to a man, after that experience their first year, they probably thought it would be boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. They have learned from it, and they have never backed away from trying to be as good as they can be, working and all that kind of stuff. But it would mean everything to them."