Johnson Previews Saturday's Alabama Contest

Head coach Trent Johnson during Wednesday's Vanderbilt game
Head coach Trent Johnson during Wednesday's Vanderbilt game
Associated Press
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE - LSU Coach Trent Johnson met with the media Thursday in preparation for Saturday's 6 p.m. ESPN2 game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against Alabama.

The Tigers are 13-10 overall and 3-6 in the SEC after a 76-61 loss at Vanderbilt on Wednesday, while Alabama is 16-7 and 5-4 after a 68-50 win at Auburn on Tuesday night.

Tickets are available at for the game starting at $15 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12). It is the Gold Game and fans are encouraged to wear gold. Some 7,500 Gold LSU t-Shirts will be handed out at the game.

Here are some of Coach Johnson's comments Thursday afternoon:

Opening statement ...
"We went into Vanderbilt to the gameknowing we had to play this thing in four minute segments, meaning execute one possession at a time defensively and offensively, and knowing that they were going to be ready to go coming off of two losses. I thought for the first half we were good. Although, after looking at the videotape, we had some breakdowns in which we didn't set good screens. We didn't take a couple shots, but still we were in a good position being up two, then tied going into the half. In the second half, they got a little spurt there where they broke away from us and rightfully so, because (Jeffery) Taylor's a good basketball player, and so is Festus (Ezeli). So, up 10, we battled back got to within four, they were up nine, got back to four. Then we got to 4:45 on the clock in the game, and Andre (Stringer) just made the back end of the one-and-one. Then, we went down and had a bad gamble on the post. They got an easy put-back, and we had a bad turnover versus the zone. Boom they go down and hit a three, and we lose contact. We went from being down four to being down nine. With an experience team, a conference team on the road and a desperate team, all those things, that's a tough haul to overcome. Like I told the group, we've been in this situation before versus very, very, very good teams a la Mississippi State on the road, Florida on the road and Virginia here. We've got to draw from that, we've got to learn from that. We've got to stop putting ourselves in that situation. I thought we battled on the glass, it was even. Obviously offensively, we had a lot of good looks at certain times throughout the game, and with certain people. The ball didn't go down. It's good for the guys to see the tape, it's good for them to understand it. Because obviously, they're down after every time we come out, they don't have success, especially on the road. I thought it was good for them to see. So now, we're working on our Alabama prep. They're going to walk through Alabama stuff as we speak. Then we'll watch some video, be real light, shoot some more free throws, get off our feet, come back tomorrow and get after each other full speed."

On whether Andre Stringer needs a lineup shift for different viewpoint ...  
"Andre (Stringer) today, I talked to him and I'm not going to, from the standpoint, number one is he continues to get in the gym and continues to get shots. His assist-to-turnover ratio is pretty good. He's making other people better. Defensively, he's doing the best he can versus some good players. I think what's going to help him now is, now John's (Isaac) got to get back to playing, so I can rest him and get him out of the game more. I made my decision after I brought him off the bench. No, we'll go with him, because of Eddie's (Ludwig) play, it's all about matchups. Obviously in Alabama, because their quick and their small, there's going to be times where we will be able to utilize Eddie with more minutes at the four, help us relieve pressure. In terms of Andre, I will continue to start him and I'll continue to encourage him to shoot the ball, be aggressive, and take good shots. The thing I do like about him, in the last three games, he's probably taken maybe four bad shots ...  I'm staying with him, and so are his teammates, which are probably more important than me."

On Alabama playing without Tony Mitchell ...
"They're deep, they're talented and they played extremely well. It doesn't surprise me (against Auburn), because JaMychal Green and Trevor Releford are very talented, very good basketball players. Usually when you're as talented and as deep as they are, you have guys who haven't played that are going to step up. Not a surprise to me at all. That's based off of me watching nine or 10 tapes, being very, very educated and not making rash decisions on what I see, or what I don't see."

On recent recruiting issues ...
"Obviously for me, it's comical, and all I want to do is say this. Everybody in this room has been around me a little bit. It takes any of you probably ten, maybe five minutes to find out how I'm wired. What's shocking and what's comical to me is for anybody to think that our basketball staff under my leadership doesn't work. I'm being serious, and what's sad is the young student-athletes are always involved in this. That's what's sad, because that's the one you feel for. Especially, when you do your job as coaches, as adults in regard to what line of work you're in, and you get educated and you know a person, and you see what he goes through from ages 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and so on and so forth. That's all I'm going to say about it, it's comical to me."

On comparing Alabama and Arkansas since you came back and beat Arkansas at home ...
"This team, Alabama, is a lot different than Arkansas. Alabama, I really feel, doesn't matter on the road or at home, they're the same because of their mental and physical toughness is very impressive. What we take from the first time, and what we take from even this group last year, you're going to have to be physical and be smart, and you're going to have to beat this basketball team. They are not going to beat themselves. (Trevor) Releford has emerged, in my mind, based off of a lot of video tape and a lot of history and facts over a two-year period, as one of the better point guards in the league without question. We've got to do a better job of keeping him out the lane. JaMychal Green is, oh my goodness, I think the only time we've had some success against him was when he was hurt which was my first year. Again, it's the same old adage for us. We need to concern ourselves, consume ourselves, concern ourselves, consume ourselves with us -- what's in that (LSU) locker room. Play passionate, play together and play as hard as you can. Continue to trust each other, continue to play through adversity, grasp who we're playing, where we're playing and when we're playing and try to have fun. If we do those things, we'll have a chance to compete at a high level versus this team and every other team moving forward."





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