BATON ROUGE - On the eve of the first basketball practice of the season under new head coach Johnny Jones, the LSU men's and women's basketball teams celebrated with their fans to kickoff the season at "Pass a Good Time" on Thursday night in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The preseason event put on by the LSU Marketing and Promotions department featured free food and autographs, a chance to meet and greet each team, shooting competitions and a question and answer segment with each coach.
Second-year LSU women's head coach Nikki Caldwell introduced her 2012-13 squad to the crowd. The Lady Tigers have already gone through a week of practice, and she said this year's team has already displayed a toughness and cohesiveness about them.
"Toughness runs through our team," Caldwell said. "You are going to see that this year. The leadership is there. Seeing our fans here definitely motivates us for the hard work that this group of players puts in."
Jones received a loud ovation as he stood at midcourt in the same building he played and coached for under legendary Tiger coach Dale Brown where he was a part of two Final Four teams.
"To have a group of our fans come out and show their support early on is great," said Jones. "It's our job to put a product out there that brings excitement to our fans. We will build on this. It's exciting for our players and gives them a boost with the start of practice tomorrow."
Emcee Gordy Rush interviewed both coaching staffs in front of the fans. Assistant men's basketball coach Charlie Leonard might have put it best when describing the relationship Jones has with the fanbase in Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana.
"It's like going around town with the Mayor," said Leonard. "He's got 30 years of relationships here."
The Tigers go through their first workout on Friday and host Arkansas-Monticello in a free admission exhibition game on Nov. 5. The Lady Tigers will host two free exhibition games in the Maravich Center beginning with Xavier of Louisiana on Nov. 1.
Season tickets for both the men's and women's basketball seasons are now on sale at www.LSUtix.net. Men's season tickets start at $100, while women's season tickets begin at $50.