Men's Basketball Preps for SEC Road Trip

LSU head coach Johnny Jones with Malik Morgan (24)
LSU head coach Johnny Jones with Malik Morgan (24)
RaeLynn Roussel
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team resumed practice on Thursday in preparation for a Saturday road game at South Carolina.

The game will tip at 12:47 p.m. CST at the Colonial Life Arena and is the first of two straight road games for LSU before the Tigers return to the Maravich Center on Jan. 18 against Vanderbilt.

LSU is 9-4 and 0-1 in the Southeastern Conference after a 68-50 loss to Tennessee Tuesday night at the Maravich Center, the team’s second consecutive loss. South Carolina will enter the game after a Tuesday night loss at Florida, stopping a four-game win streak for the Gamecocks (7-7, 0-1). Carolina is 5-2 at the Colonia Life Arena.

Last year in Columbia, Johnny O'Bryant III of LSU erupted for 30 points in LSU’s 64-46 win over the Gamecocks. LSU had lost earlier in the year to Carolina in overtime at the Maravich Center. This will be the only meeting of the year between the two teams.

Coach Johnny Jones met with the media Thursday prior to the team’s practice and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement…
“We’re looking forward to getting back out on the floor today in preparation for our game on Saturday afternoon against South Carolina. We’re hopeful that we can get back to executing at a certain level, work on some things and get some things ironed out. We need to execute offensively on things that we’ve possibly been getting away from in the last couple of game on a consistent basis. Defensively, we need to do more of the same in terms of working on a rotation, getting better in those areas including rebounding to improve and be a contender in a really tough conference.”

On the effect of having a team meeting after the Tennessee game…
“I think it’s always good anytime you have team meetings. As a group, you sit there, and we give guys the opportunity to speak or ask them questions. You find out exactly how things are going or what they’re thinking, and you get an opportunity to iron a lot of things out. I think it’s always beneficial, and the guys have an opportunity to talk with each other about some things. You have a chance to clear a lot of things up and generally it’s beneficial for your team.”

If there was a prevailing theme to the meeting…
“No – it was just one of those open meetings that we had to talk about who we are and what we need to do to get better as a basketball team. Also individually, we talked about what one has to do in terms of improving as individuals to help our team move forward. It was about what we can do better.”

On the offense having a stagnant feel to it…
“When we are at our best and have played well against teams, it hadn’t been so much plays called but just a fluency in our offense be it fast break opportunities where we were really screening and popping. When we’ve been at our best, you’ve seen Anthony (Hickey), Shavon Coleman and (Andre) Stringer knocking down shots, driving, moving the ball and being extremely quick. Then, you’ve seen Jordan Mickey making plays. I think the other night we weren’t knocking down shots. When our outside shots weren’t going (in) and our opponent was making shots at a high rate, it makes it extremely tough regardless of what you’re doing. If you’re not making shots, then it’s a tough night for you. On the other end they made some tough shots and also had a couple of easy scoring opportunities. It got to be a little bit different. I thought Johnny (O’Bryant III) scored the ball well early on in the first half and Hickey hit his first three. I think at one point the game was 10-7 in our favor. I think it was only the last four or five minutes of the first half when they went on a little run and it got away from us. We never recovered from that, but Johnny is certainly someone we have to go to. I think anytime you’re running things through in conference play everybody knows exactly what you’re doing; they’re used to you; they understand your pattern; they know; and we talked about toughness. It’s about your defense dominating the opponent’s offense. On the offensive end, your offense – even though they know what you’re running – has to be able to dominate the opposing team’s defense. This means that we have to screen better, cut harder, rebound and do all of those things. That’s a sign of toughness when we’re able to mentally prepare ourselves for a grind for 40 minutes or however long it takes.”

On Shavon Coleman’s interchanging during the game with Jarell Martin due to his playmaking ability…
“He can – The experience that’s on the floor sometimes or the matchups may be better for him because of the quickness or size of the opponent. Certainly, that’s something that we would have to address and really look at. We certainly want to play to our strength as well.”

On minutes and adjustments being made…
“We certainly will have to address it sooner than later because we got exposed a little bit on Tuesday. When you’ve got tape and understand how someone plays and will attack you, you have to make some adjustments. We will have to do that. The good thing is that we have the make-up of a team to be able to do it to be able to play to our strength. We talked yesterday – they know its coming. We will have a good practice today, and it’s about our team. It’s about us winning and all of those guys are about winning; winning is important to them. We’ve just got to make sure we put the right combinations on the floor that’s going to give us the best opportunity to be successful in certain stretches during the game.”

On his guys not playing hard or having trouble focusing…
“To the kids’ credit on Tuesday, I thought we had to roll out our pressure – pressing and extending it – a little bit earlier than we would have liked. We played a veteran basketball team who handled it well. Toward the end of the game we may have been extending ourselves a bit much. It may have looked like guys weren’t trying, but Tennessee did a great job of making plays. We got passes behind in those areas that you have to clear up. When you talk about toughness, it’s mentally what you’re able to do in terms of executing against another opponent offensively and defensively. You’ve got to be tough to do that. That’s that edge that you have to be able to have and develop, and the passion for it is winning. When you’re in that position where you feel like you’ve extending a bit too much, you have to leave it out there on the floor. We got caught the other night and got outplayed by a better team on Tuesday.”

On the effort on the defensive end of the floor…
“I think with about five minutes to go in the half, it was a two, four or five-point game before we got hit with a three-pointer. Hickey went out of bounds and throws it back in over his head, and they catch it above the three-point line. They knock that one down as well and it’s a six-point turnaround just that quick. We go in down 14 instead of a four or five-point basketball game, and it’s tough. It was just the bounce of the ball. Fortunately, we came back out in the second half and hit two quick buckets on them. In the middle of the game, we got our hand on the ball before the ball bounces the wrong way and then they get a dunk. We’ve got a deflection in the backcourt, and they come down, make two passes and dunk the basketball. It’s the breaks that you get out there sometimes. You can’t take away anything from Tennessee. I thought they played an excellent basketball game and didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes. When they did, we didn’t capitalize on them at the rate we needed to like we have earlier in the year against some really good opponents. That’s what good teams do, and we have to get better.”

On Jarell Martin driving to the rim…
“What will help Jarell is getting comfortable. We’ve really put him in a tough situation because he’s had to play on the perimeter at the three (small forward) and four (power forward) for us as well. He’s really good in terms of facing up. He can get to the elbow and make plays from there. He’s shown that he’s capable of shooting the outside shot, but it’s knowing when to. That comes with habit, and we can show him tape. As the season progresses, he will learn when that time to shot-fake and one quick bounce to the rim, getting in the lane and that will happen with him. It’s just going to take him a little time. The game is a little bit quicker, guys are stronger, and you’ve got to be able to pick your spots. He’s a guy that’s capable of doing that.”

On the difficulty of finding the right combination to put on the floor…
“That’s a part of coaching. I think any time or any year regardless of who we have returning, it’s a new year. Especially with the teams we play in this conference, they are well coached and understand what we run. They are going to make adjustments, and you have to make sure that you’re capable to make yours as well. Regardless of who you have back – be it veterans or a new team – you have to implement your system. Guys really have to get used to each other. That’s a part of what we’re going through right now. We’ve gotten off to a good start. Our record is what it is, and we stubbed our toe and probably didn’t play as well as we would have liked to on Tuesday. We understand that we have a lot of season in front of us and a lot of growing to do. We’re hopeful we are playing great basketball come February and March.”





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