Jones Previews Final Pre-Conference Game

LSU head coach Johnny Jones
LSU head coach Johnny Jones
Steve Franz
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE -- The 8-2 LSU Tigers play their final non-conference game Saturday in an afternoon tilt at 12:30 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against 5-9 Bethune-Cookman.

There is no television for the contest but the game will be televised on the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and to subscribers of the GeauxZone.

Tickets are available at and beginning one hour prior to tipoff at the upper concourse ticket windows.

LSU opens SEC play on Wednesday at Auburn and plays its first home league game on Saturday, Jan. 12, at 3 p.m. against nationally-ranked Florida.

Here are some of Coach Jones' comments to the media on Thursday:

Opening Statement ...
"We're excited and looking forward to Saturday's game for a lot of reasons. One, it gets us an opportunity to get back out there on the floor. I think our guys have done a tremendous job. On New Year's Day, we had one of our better and most spirited practices. I was really pleased with the effort. After Saturday, it moves us just that much closer to conference play, which we are really looking forward to. It will be a great challenge for us. We are hopeful that Johnny O'Bryant III will be back on the floor. He hasn't played or practiced with us since the Marquette game. We are looking forward to hopefully getting him back on the floor in the near future. We are not sure if we'll have him for Saturday's game or not right now at this moment."

On Anthony Hickey's status ...
"Anthony (Hickey) has been practicing with us. He has been giving us a great effort. I look forward to getting him back on the floor on Saturday. I know he will have a smooth transition back out there on the floor. I know that it's something that he's looking forward to as well.

On the process of disciplining Anthony Hickey ...
"It's more of an internal thing. Some things on a normal basis probably wouldn't be going to the extent that we have. With him, we're just trying to make sure it's not all just basketball. Sometimes it's about life lessons. We're trying to help him move forward. We think the sooner, the better it is for us, as well as him. It is just about growth for him. There are certain guidelines that do a lot of things. Sometimes you coach by feel, and sometimes you have to discipline players by feel as well. I don't think you can treat every kid the same way. Anytime you are dealing with personalities in young men, you have foundations and things that you believe and trust in. You put them out there. The guys who are actually following those guidelines for the most part may slip up from time to time. You handle them one way. I think others who kind of push it you have to deal with them in a little bit different manner. I think that's been the case here, but it's been good. I'm hopeful that he's had an opportunity to continue to grow from the experience. I think it's been good for him, and I think it will be good for him in the future."

On the team playing without key players at different times early this season ...
"I've been really pleased. I think they've been really resilient. They get out there, practice and compete everyday. These guys are on scholarship. They feel as though they can carry that load, and that's what they're here for. Sometimes in those situations, it presents an opportunity for some guys to really get out there and exploit the things they are capable of doing. They obviously would love their team to be together, but it challenges them, because you never know when there will be an injury, illness or foul trouble. We have to prepare ourselves to be able to play through that as well. We utilize these times as a prime example for guys to get extended minutes. I think they've been pleased with their effort in what has happened be it foul trouble, injures or suspensions as well."

On the non-conference schedule ...
"We try to utilize our non-conference schedule, for the most part, to really prepare ourselves for the conference. It gives us an opportunity to tweak things offensively, try to really get in our rotations and find out what's our best combination are at times. That's what we utilize it for moving into conference play. We're hopeful that we're closer to being set and knowing exactly what we're going to get from each guy, and how we tend to play. I think this will be good for us. I think we've done that throughout this non-conference season."

On Charles Carmouche's play throughout Hickey's absence ...
"I think it's been really good for (Charles) Carmouche just being on the floor. I'm not sure it's been great for our team because I think both of those guys (Carmouche and Hickey) are really good on the floor together. Carmouche is still playing the same position at the off guard and not the point. He's making plays, and I don't think we've had any slippage with him. He's played better, but I think even with Hickey possibly being on the floor it puts him in a position where he may be able to do even more, because Hickey has the ability to create. (Hickey) is quick and able to get inside the lane which forces the defense to have to get into rotation. It may benefit Carmouche by (Hickey) being on the floor at times, but I don't think it has lessened his game. His assists numbers have been up in that scenario where Hickey usually getting steals, assists and being a leader for us. They have been a really good one-two punch. At the same time, with Andre Stringer and Corban Collins, I think we've had a great combination in that spot (point guard). At the same time, with the rotation of those guys and the minutes that they've played, I think they've been really productive. I've really been pleased with the play of all those guys."

On having a heavy guard attack in SEC play ...
"I have a great deal of respect for the talent level in the SEC. I think our guys and the way they've played early I look back at games against Marquette and Seton Hall. Our guys have held their own, and I think they've played extremely well in those games in spurts. I think that's what we're looking forward to in transitioning to the SEC, an extremely tough league. We feel like we've got some size, and we've got the strength to really compete at that level. It's something we look forward to starting conference play next week."

On the strength of the SEC ...
"It's always tough. You look at Kentucky, they are extremely talented. Florida has really been exceptional. Missouri is new into the league. I think just like anything else you go through injuries, and the things you have to go through in the early part of the season. But I think when everything weighs itself out, we'll be right back in the thick of things in terms of our league. It will be very competitive again when guys get healthy around the league. I think we have a very strong and tough league. I don't get caught up into anything being down because of what happens sometimes in some preseason games."

On the team's play up to this point ...
"I like what we're averaging right now. It's good to average around 72 to 75 points a game it that's possible for us. I think that's a great number. Defensively, if we can try to hold our opponents between 62 and 65, I think that's a great number for us as well. We're looking at field goal percentage - what we're doing offensively compared to what we're able to do defensively. Rebounding the basketball has really been a key for us. Those numbers are really good for us now. But obviously in conference play things could change with the size and strength night in and night out. You have teams that are extremely explosive on the offensive end. Other teams in the conference are really solid defensively. It will be a great test for us."

On playing defense in the SEC ...
"In the SEC because the league is so potent and players are so good, that we have to make sure that you try and I guess pick your poison in where you're going to give up something from and their size. We are going to implement some things a little bit defensively, give people a little bit different look and take away some time post play. Other nights we may be trying to crowd the three-point line because they're such great shooters. We will be more scouting report oriented in terms of how we will play each game, but I can assure you we will be prepared for that be it trying to take away the post guy, or the three-point line. In this league, some teams have both. You may just have to hope for a bad shooting night from them and put pressure on them. Then, on our end hopefully we're shooting the ball well."

On Saturday's matchup against Bethune-Cookman ...
"(Bethune-Cookman) is a very competitive basketball team. If you look at their numbers, there are only a couple of teams that have gotten away from them this year and played extremely well. Both of those indicators were probably in the rebounding area, out rebounding them by a substantial amount. But they've held their own and been in close games with other opponents. We have to make sure we defend well. They have two guys (Adrien Coleman and Kevin Dukes) who are very capable scorers. We have to make sure we rebound the ball extremely well on Saturday. They are a very poised team that has the ability to score the basketball. If you are not playing well, or defending well and rebounding the basketball, they will be right there with you."

On the team's rebounding success...
"When I was at North Texas, we always either led the league or were in the top 2 in terms of rebounding. Rebounding is something that we put an emphasis on everyday in practice. We know how important it is so I think that helps. It's something that doesn't go unnoticed. I think because the way that we practice and the drills that we work on daily, I think it helps us. Our guys know that it's about having attention to detail in that area. That's something that we concentrate on."

On John Odo's progress in practice ...
"(Odo) has been good and has been very affective. We are excited about him being here. Like other guys because of his layoff and not playing competitive basketball, he's had to shake a little bit of the rust off. But he's been competitive on the defensive end of the floor. You can see that improvement each day with him that we're really excited about."          





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