Men's Basketball
LSU's Charles Carmouche
Photo by:Hilary Scheinuk, LSU Athletics Student Photographer
Jones, Basketball Set for SEC Debut at Auburn
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Published: January 08, 2013, 10:58 AM (CT)
by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent), Sr. Associate SID

BATON ROUGE - For 11 games, first-year LSU men's basketball Coach Johnny Jones has been trying to put all the pieces in just the right spots to prepare his Tigers for the state of Southeastern Conference play.

That time has now arrived. SEC play begins for LSU Wednesday night in Auburn, Ala., at the third-year Auburn Arena at 8 p.m. in a game to be televised by CSS and Cox Sports Television. The game will also be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net.)

The Tigers of LSU have won their league openers each of the last two years, including a win at the Auburn Arena to open league play in 2011. Ironically, LSU's last SEC game it played, in 2012, also came at the Arena as Auburn was able to dominate the game.

LSU was 7-9 in the league a year ago but this is an SEC schedule that will look and play completely different than any the league has seen in decades.

The league will play 18 conference games for the first time since the 1990-91, but with 14 teams in the league, each team will have the opportunity to play each team once with five teams that will be faced on a home and away basis.

LSU comes into the conference opener at 9-2, while Auburn is 6-7 on the year.

"We are excited about this week because we know we have some great challenges ahead going into Auburn on Wednesday. They will definitely present that force, and we are hopeful that our early schedule of 11 games that we have played prior to this challenge in this 18-game schedule of conference play has prepared us for this early part of conference schedule going to Auburn on Wednesday," said Jones. "Then, we come back and play maybe the best teams in our league in Florida on Saturday. I look forward to it. I think our guys are up to the task, and I think they are chomping at the bit to get it started as well."

LSU is expected to go with Andre Stringer (11.7 ppg, 2.3 apg), Charles Carmouche (9.9 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Corban Collins (4.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg) at guards with Shavon Coleman (14.1 ppg, 8.6 rpg) at forward and Andrew Del Piero at center (5.0 ppg, 1.7 bpg).  Coleman has moved into the Johnny O'Bryant III position after his minor leg injury at Marquette that has kept him hobbled except for five minutes against Bethune Cookman when he tried to play. O'Bryant III will dress and his practice ability prior to the game will determine his playing time in the contest.

Anthony Hickey will also see plenty of playing time, averaging in double figures in points and the nation's leader in steals average.

Auburn is led by senior Frankie Sullivan averaging 17.8 points and 4.1 rebounds a game.  Auburn defeated Florida State, 78-72, in its last start.

LSU returns home on Saturday for a 3 p.m. game with Florida on ESPNU. Tickets are available online for the Gold Game with 5,000 free t-shirts to be distributed, at LSUtix.net. Follow more on the upcoming game and all things LSU Basketball at www.facebook.com/LSUbasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball.

Here are the quotes from yesterday's media session with Coach Jones:


January 7, 2013
Head Coach Johnny Jones

Opining statement ...
"We are excited about getting conference play started this week. We had an early afternoon game on Saturday, and I wanted to make sure we were able to work some things out in some areas in particular. I wanted to try to get better at and concentrate in. I think because of the absence of Johnny (O'Bryant III) for most of the game, I guess about 35 minutes of it and not having him at full speed. That did not help because we really wanted to try to work him into rotations and check on some things, but we were not able to do that. We are excited about this week because we know we have some great challenges ahead going into Auburn on Wednesday. They will definitely present that force, and we are hopeful that our early schedule of 11 games that we have played prior to this challenge in this 18-game schedule of conference play has prepared us for this early part of conference schedule going to Auburn on Wednesday. Then, we come back and play maybe the best teams in our league in Florida on Saturday. I look forward to it. I think our guys are up to the task, and I think they are chomping at the bit to get it started as well."

On Johnny O'Bryant III's playing time ...
"Based off of Saturday's performance, it is difficult to tell because he was not able to go and give us the amount of minutes or the type of work from him that we needed. We did not practice on Sunday so we will see where he is today, and how effective he is throughout practice today. He will be able to go depending on what he is able to do the next two days, today and tomorrow, leading up to the game will really determine how effective we think he could be, or how we will try to utilize his minutes on Wednesday."

On playing an experienced Auburn team ...
"Well, most of the time, those guys just have to understand what they have to do offensively. Defensively, they are going to have their rotations down late in ball games. They are going to have the ability to execute because they have been there before. Playing them at home will be somewhat of an advantage to them along with being an experienced basketball team. Those guys understand, they know and you know what you are going to get from them a day in and day out. It is not a learning experience for the coach. "

On looking at last year's game film against Auburn to help develop the game plan ...
"It helps, but again you have to realize those guys are a year older. They are a little more experienced, probably a little more explosive in some areas and better. You take Sullivan, who is an incredible scorer, who can really shoot the ball and get it to the rim and has done a tremendous job. Looking at what their team has done over the past two games, Florida State and Illinois, losing by two at Illinois and beating Florida State at home, they can be playing well at the right time. That experience has kicked in. It is really difficult to look at records and wonder how good a team we will play on Wednesday or when conference play starts. But if it is any indicator of what they have done the last two games, it is impressive."

On Auburn's injuries ...
"In the preseason, you really have an advantage of trying to work different combinations and guys out there were really effective out there without them on against Florida State. I think they are a confident basketball team, and I think they have some interworking parts in their basketball team that they are able to turn to and are very effective against Florida State. They are two guys down, but I think once the season starts and you get into conference play that is to be expected. You are going to have guys down and very seldom you get through a season without injuries."

On Auburn's Offensive Attack ...
"I think they will have a good balance scoring attack, which will probably be most effective. I think like most teams they will allow the game to dictate. They have very capable post players. These guys are very capable of scoring and being effective inside. With Sullivan, he will have the ability to score from outside shooting the three or getting the ball to basket. I'm sure they will let whatever defense we are in probably dictate where they will try to be the most effective. It is up to us to try to keep them off balance."

On the Chemistry between Charles Carmouche and Anthony Hickey ...
"What really helped us was that those guys in the preseason had an opportunity to get in the gym. From what I understand, very seldom, they were they on the same team. They usually played against each other during the summer time during pickup basketball games. They are very competitive, both of them are. Once we started practice and doing their preseason and able to get on the floor with them doing individual skill work, both of those guys really work well together. They really fed off of each other. Both of them have been really good competitors on the floor. It has just been one of those things that have evolved over some time. We have been out on the floor. It has been great to see the chemistry happen with two competitive players out there that are both unselfish and share the ball."

On Carmouche helping Hickey ...
"He's been good. I'd have to say I think his team has really been good. Charles has obviously been a part of that, but I think the team has really been good with Hickey as well. The great part is to see him be receptive to his teammates at that time as well."

On Hickey being back to game speed ...
"He has done that time and again. Anytime, he has had a layoff he was able to jump right back in there and be a star coming off the bench. He has just been one of those guys that you put him in a position, and he has been able to deliver for us. That is why it is important that when we have him out there on the floor because he is definitely an effective player for us allowing our team to play a little bit different."

On the team being further along than he expected ...
"Probably record wise, sitting there at 9-2 in the early part of the season; with the schedule playing the Big East schools and traveling the way we have I wasn't sure. I can say that I think our execution, at some points, has been better than I thought because we have changed a lot what we do offensively - the sets that we run, the breaks that we run, I think these guys really have really adapted to it well. I would have to say I've been impressed and pleasantly surprised by the transition that they were able to make and picking everything up so quickly."

On what Johnny O'Bryant III can do with limited play ...
"It is hard to really gauge. I really think the best he can do is probably be a great teammate if he is not 100 percent. He can really make sure he cheers and keeps these other guys excited. What you don't want to do is get a nagging injury and allow it to get worse by playing him some minutes when he is not being effective out there on the floor. I think he can do what he was able to do for the most part on Saturday, which is be a great teammate and encourage the guys that are in the game and know that his time will come. When Johnny is healthy, he is one of the best players in the league. No question he is capable of playing at a certain level. Any time your wheels are not a 100 percent, and a lot of his game is based on that, it causes a concern for us."

On teaching Anthony Hickey on and off the court ...
"It is about life lessons. What I try to do is use other people as examples to let him know that I have played basketball in college, and I understand the temptations that the things that are out there. I have been coaching for a long time, and I've seen a lot of sides. He is a guy that is blessed with a lot of talent, but so many other people out there have been as well. I think I try to utilize examples and point to them to help him through some of the things that I think we need to address with him. It is about life lessons, and he has really been good. I tell people all the time there are things that warrant stricter disciplining, but because of the number of things that have transpired really created that. At the end of the day, Anthony Hickey will be better off for it. I look forward to his continual growth that is going in a positive direction."

On whether or not this is Anthony Hickey's last chance ...
"No, I'm not a line in the sand type of coach. I actually coach and try to put myself in the position as if I am coaching my own son because I feel like all of these kids are a part of my family and that I'm an extended part of their family. I'm going to treat these kids like I would want someone to treat my own son. If that is giving them second chances or find a deal with them and help them in terms of their growth you can do that. The only time it really gets tough is if you think it is starting to affect your basketball team. At that time, you have to really address it a little bit differently. But if it is not causing a cancer on your team then you deal with it and try to help them as much as possible."

On coaching Charles Carmouche ...
"I worked my butt off trying to get him when he was leaving UNO. I tried to get him to come to UNT with us prior to him signing on with Memphis. I knew one of the assistant coaches at UNO at the time and knew enough about him, watched him, his style of play and really thought he would fit into what we were doing. I wasn't fortunate enough to get him to come to UNT, but I was glad when we were able to get him here at LSU. I thought he had the intangibles that would be good for a basketball team. I can say this; it has really been better than I have expected. I knew he had the ability to shoot and was a good defender, but he has the ability to lead, is a team guy and his teammates respect him. Winning is really important to him. I think he has been a great part of our team and he has transitioned well to what we are trying to accomplish."

On the SEC ...
"Last time I checked I think the National Champion came out of the SEC last year in Kentucky, and they had a lot of freshman on their team. They have done a tremendous job of recruiting some of the top players around the country as well. I think when you look across the board at the number of games that some of the elite teams may have lost in the preseason, it is extremely tough to gauge exactly why. Was it because of injury, suspension, guys ineligible leading up into Christmas, there are a lot of things that play into it. You always look at conference play because that next semester guys generally become better basketball teams because a lot of times a team may be young, or coaches are trying some things. We don't have the luxury that the NBA has in terms of playing the exhibition games. You get caught in your regular season games, 11 games you have prior to conference play. You are trying to experience things then and sometimes you have setbacks. You utilize that time to set your team up for conference play. Guys understand the strength of your schedule and then conference play. If you do well in conference play, you have a chance to move on or get into the NCAA tournament. A lot of times teams are focused in terms of doing that. I think our league is very strong. You look at Missouri, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss and what other teams have done in the preseason and the games they have won I think it speaks volumes. I think at the end of the year we will be able to look back and see how tough our teams are in our conference in balance."

On the strength of schedule ...
"The RPI and the ratings I think are important at the end of the day. I think because of the tournament and how people will look and gauge your body of work. I think the balance of our conference, and the strength of it because of those teams that are at the top, Kentucky and Florida last year, and Alabama I think was right there. Tennessee, all of those teams, were right there. Unfortunately, they did what they needed to against the great teams in our conference. Unfortunately, they were left out and those kinds of things happen. If you look back, we all agree those teams should have been in the tournament, but they didn't make it. That happens every year. You only have one team from your conference that is going to get that automatic bid, and that is who wins the conference tournament. Everything else is left for someone else to vote you in."

On Andrew Del Piero's minutes going forward ...
"I think he has conditioned himself to do that, and I think he is very capable. I think his minutes will be more scout report oriented to our opponent, and our match ups if they are good for him. Sometimes, he can be an advantage for us and a disadvantage to our opponent. We look for him to play some valuable minutes for us, and I'm hopeful that we can get him to close to 20 minutes because that means we've got a really good rotation going. That way we can utilize some other bodies out there and keep our guys fresh."

"In all my years of coaching, Andrew is the most improved guy from day one that I have ever seen. I've been very impressed with him even though Andrew doesn't say a whole lot. I had to actually watch the Inside LSU Basketball show last night to find out that playing professionally was something he would like to do in his future. I think that speaks volumes about him, and it helps us as well to know that is a desire that he has. He will continue to put forth the effort to get better. I have been very pleased and more excited for Andrew really than just for our team just to watch the success he has had time and again."

On his philosophy using his bench ...
"I like a deep bench because I think it creates a great environment in practice and creates great comradely amongst your team because guys know who is going to play. They know they can give maximum effort during their time out there, and they don't have to save themselves because there is somebody on the bench that is going to come in and do the same. I think when guys do that we can cut numbers back, hopefully to 26 or 28 minutes. I think it is helpful. I think to stretch guys to 34 or 36 minutes, it gets difficult at times. Everyone wants to play 40 minutes a game but that is probably not the best combination for your team. If we can get guys minutes down, I think we are a more effective team and to do that I think you have to have guys that are contributors. If you can get to eight or nine guys on your bench you are better off."

On the team's post rotations ...
"You look at a guy like Jalen Courtney who is capable of giving us some positive minutes. You look at Eddie Ludwig who is capable. It is getting those guys to come on and understand that you are going to get quality minutes night in and night out. Both are very capable. It becomes more of a confident factor, and if we can get that from them we will be a better basketball team."

 

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