Basketball Heads to Orlando for Three-Game Classic
Communications Sr. Associate
KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The LSU men’s basketball team, off wins in all three of its home games, tries to take the next step on its non-conference journey beginning Thanksgiving night with an opening round game against Saint Joseph’s in the annual Old Spice Classic at the HP Field House at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.
The eight-team tournament continues with guaranteed games on Friday, and after a day off on Saturday, on Sunday. All games will be televised on the ESPN Family of Networks as the event is part of the “ESPN Events” brand of basketball events the company owns.
LSU will play the final quarterfinal on Thursday against the Hawks which is scheduled to begin at approximately 8:30 p.m. EST (7:30 p.m. Baton Rouge time) and will be televised on ESPN2 (Bob Picozzi and Kara Lawson on the call). The game will be broadcast on the LSU Sports Radio Network affiliates (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) with Jordy Hultberg filling in for Jim Hawthorne along with analyst Ricky Blanton on site and Kevin Ford hosting from the network studios in Baton Rouge. That call will also be available for subscribers in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
The Tigers will play either Memphis or Siena in the second round of the tournament on Friday. An LSU win will put the Tigers in a 5:30 p.m. (EST) semifinal game, while a Tiger loss will put LSU in the final game of the day in the consolation round at 8 p.m. (EST). The LSU radio broadcast that night only will move from 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge to 100.7 FM.
The Tigers are 3-1, rebounding for wins over Northwestern State, UNO and Southeastern after its narrow loss by two points, 92-90, to UMass, a team that has now moved itself into the national rankings after winning the Charleston Classic this past weekend. Saint Joseph’s is now 2-1 on the season, but comes into the game off an 83-79 home loss to Creighton game will be SJU’s first in 11 days.
Since 1978-79, LSU has played in 20 in-season tourneys of one kind or another with six tournament wins. LSU was 2-1 in the 2011 Charleston Classic, winning its last two games in that event.
This will mark the first time that all of LSU’s dress roster will suit up since the first 33 seconds of the season open at UMass on Nov. 12. That was the point that freshman All-American Jarell Martin left the game with a sprained right ankle. He returned for the Southeastern game (Nov. 22), but Malik Morgan missed that game after taking a blow to the head in the UNO game (Nov. 19).
The Tigers enter the tournament with two players averaging 18.3 points per game – senior Andre Stringer and junior Johnny O’Bryant III. O’Bryant III is second in the league in rebound average with 11.5 a game and has pulled down double figure rebounds in all four games, including averaging 5.0 offensive rebounds a game.
Freshman Jordan Mickey has gotten off to a tremendous start with three double doubles and a league best 4.7 blocks per game average. Mickey enters the tournament with 14.3 points and 9.8 rebound averages.
The Hawks, coached by veteran mentor Phil Martelli, is led by senior Langston Galloway of Baton Rouge, who is averaging 18.3 points and 4.7 rebounds a game. Ronald Roberts, who had 13 versus Creighton, and DeAndre’ Bembry, 20 versus Creighton, are next on SJU’s scoring list.
LSU is expected to go with the same lineup it went with against Southeastern with JOB III, Martin and Mickey at forwards to go with Stringer and Anthony Hickey at guards. Hickey, on his birthday last Friday, had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 steals for the Tigers.
More information on the tournament can be found at OldSpiceClassic.com and follow updates during the Tigers trip here at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJones.
Coach Jones met with the media before the team left for Florida and here are some of his comments from that session:
Opening Statement from Coach Jones…
“We are looking forward to a great week of basketball. Hopefully, it will certainly have an opportunity to tell us where we are at this point in the season against some very stiff competition. You have several teams that are sitting in the top 20 in the country and other teams that are right there on the brink. We look forward to the challenges ahead. We’re excited because we feel like we are healthy and have an opportunity to go out with our basketball team. Hopefully, we will be able to challenge and compete at the level that we need to at this early part of the season. We are looking at Saint Joe’s, a very senior-oriented basketball team with a super freshman as well who is a very special player. They have Langston Galloway from Baton Rouge who has been a steady force for them throughout his career. They have a very balanced basketball team from point to post, and their perimeter guys are shooting around 43 percent or so from the three-point line, which I think is top six or seven in the country. It will certainly be a tough test for us the first night out on Thursday playing against Saint Joe’s, but we certainly look forward to the trip.”
On matching up against St. Joe’s bigger guards…
“We have to make sure that we get to those guys on the catch and make sure we force them to put it on the floor. Not giving them standards, or good looks, at the basket. The post guys have done a great job of trying to get in the gaps on dribbles. You sit there and you try to help. They get standards, (their) feet set (and) knock down shots. We’ve got to make sure that we’re there on the catch. We’ve got to do a good job as a team containing the basketball where we’re hopefully not having to help as much and making them play over the top of us. They’ve got good size, quickness, (and) they can finish at the rim because they drive the ball extremely well. They can shoot it. They’re a very sound, solid perimeter basketball team.”
On Malik Morgan’s status…
“He practiced with us (Tuesday) and had a full-scale practice. He was released to do that. So we’re excited about Malik being back and hopefully that’ll help us with our rotation. We have our full group of guys back, and we’re trying to see how we can go out there healthy for a change.”
On Jarell Martin progressing to where he was before his ankle injury…
“I think he’s getting close. I know he’s still a little bit hampered by it. I think its more soreness and maybe just not assured yet. I think it’s going to take him really being out there on it and making one of those quick cuts or moves that he’s accustomed to for him to be fully confident that he’s ready to go. But I think it’s still in the back of his mind just because of the way the injury occurred and the way it hurts. It sidelined him for a while. He’s just hesitant on it right now.”
On getting a balance at the small forward position…
“I think the good thing is, those guys play exceptionally well and they play hard. I think if they continue to do that, the game will take care of that. Because of the fact that they play, they need their rest, and you wind up subbing guys in and out because they’ve competed at a certain level. So there’s no certain agenda or certain amount of minutes that you’re sitting or playing. It’s just how guys are on the floor and they’re progressing with the time that they’re in there. Jarell actually plays the four (power forward) as well. So he will be at a couple of different positions for us, and Shavon [Coleman] has done a great job of delivering when he’s been at the mainstay of the three (small forward) spot where he’s been all year.”
On the importance of Jarell getting experience after his injury…
“We knew leading up to his injury what he is capable of doing, and he’s a special basketball player. He’s talented and we know that because of his injury, he’s been hampered somewhat from doing what he’s capable of doing. Games are going to take care of that, and he just hasn’t had an opportunity to play in enough of them yet. The other night was his first opportunity for him to have some serious action in terms of being in the game and playing multiple minutes. As the season progresses, you’ll have an opportunity to see him be able to put it together, but it’s hard to really simulate those things in practice. In terms of tape, we know he’s a great passer. He can put it on the floor really well; he can shoot the ball and rebound. It’s just a matter of him being able to compete and being out there to get those things done.”
On the Old Spice Classic being a similar experience to the SEC/NCAA Tournament…
“I think any time you can put yourself in a position like this with the caliber and quality of competition that we will be facing these next three out of four days. I think it’s good. One, you can put yourself in a conference tournament type of situation where you’re playing back-to-back, quick turnaround with a scouting report. Then, you have the NCAA Tournament where you play, then skip a day and then have an opportunity to play again. So I think you have an opportunity to look at a couple of different things this early part of the season that if we face (similar situations) at the end of the year, we can point back to it for our guys to see how we fared.”
On the importance of resume building for the NCAA Tournament…
“I think it’s an excellent weekend for us to go out and compete and find out really where we are. There won’t be a whole lot of pressure. We’ve got a tremendous basketball schedule that we have yet to play – 18 conference games which will hopefully weigh heavily because of the strength of our league. But at the same time, we’ve got to make sure that we go out and perform well against stiff competition because teams are rated or ranked in the top 20. How we fare against them may help us in terms of our ranking right now, but I think there’s a lot of time between now and March.”
On players and referees adapting to the new defensive rules…
“I think you’ve been able to see some adjustments. I don’t think there are as many fouls as it was anticipated this early part of the season. I thought the first few games there were a lot of fouls and foul shots being taken. I think the officials, coaches (and) players have made the necessary adjustments. I guess if there is a happy medium, the necessary adjustments in terms of playing without the hands and the feet and allowing guys to get to the basket. I think officials had a chance to struggle with it as well early on because they were used to calling it one way. So I think that adjustment has been made and it’s great for the game.”
On the biggest improvement made since UMass…
“Rebounding – I think we rebounded well with UMass. I think we’ve continued to get better. I think defensively as well. You talk about the new rule changes. I think we’ve done a much better job since the UMass game in terms of defending, utilizing our feet and our hands and that’s been a big plus.”
On the opportunity to bond as a team during Thanksgiving…
“I think anytime you have an opportunity to get away and spend a lot of time together especially in the early part of the season, you get to know a lot about your team. This trip will certainly serve a great purpose for that as well. We look forward to spending that time and although we’re a close-knit basketball team, I think we’ll know more about ourselves when we return from this trip.”