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BATON ROUGE - LSU men's basketball coach Johnny Jones met with the media Tuesday to talk about Thursday night's game at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as part of the SEC-BIG EAST Challenge series that begins on Thursday with four games.

Tipoff at the Maravich Center is 8:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge) and televised nationally on ESPNU. Tickets for the game are available online at LSUtix.net and on game night beginning one hour prior to tipoff at the upper concourse ticket windows of the PMAC.

LSU is 4-0, coming off a 75-50 win over Mississippi State on Saturday, while Seton Hall is 5-1 and coming off a strong 76-61 win over St. Peter's on Sunday.

LSU will be trying to go 5-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season and to win its SEC-BIG EAST Challenge game for the second straight year. Last year, LSU won, 55-50, at Rutgers.

Here are some of Coach Jones' comments from today's session with the media shortly before Tuesday's practice in the practice facility:

Opening Statement...
"The good thing about our schedule so far is that we've been able to get through games. We've made some mistakes. At the same time, we've been able to finish games up strong with the ability afterwards to go back, look at the tape and have an opportunity to clean things up. We feel that this week is the same. After the Mississippi Valley State game (on Saturday), there are some areas that we felt very good about and very comfortably about on the offensive end of the floor particularly shooting over 69 percent in the second half. Unfortunately, the turnovers remained to be somewhat of a concern for us, but it's a good thing, in a sense, because I think its guys being unselfish and trying to make extra passes. Those things are going to happen, but that's an area we can definitely clean up. It's not because guys are really trying to do too much or making selfish plays so I think that's a positive for us as well. This week, we look forward to a great challenge with Seton Hall, a Big EAST team. They are very talented with some skilled guys. The team won 21 games last year, and it will be a tough test for us during this early part of the season. It's something that we look forward to, and we look forward to the type of challenge that they will present here on Thursday."

On playing a team from the so-called BCS conferences ...
"They come in with a really good record (5-1). The only setback they've had is against Washington which was an overtime basketball game. They've done an excellent job this season in preparing and getting ready. But again, it will be a great test for us and an area that we look forward to prior to getting on the road as well."

What Seton Hall does better than LSU's first four opponents...
"I think, one, their size and strength of their team, the depth that they have on their bench are all some good key areas. They're really solid in the post area. They look to punch the ball in. They have guys that are on the perimeter that are very capable, knock down shooters that can drive the ball and get it to the rim. They have a complete basketball team with depth and size. They can go to their bench as well, so I think through all in all, we'll be looking at a team that is very compatible to what we will be looking at in our conference play this year."

On matching up with Seton Hall's size...
"I think the key for us is to hopefully try and keep them off balance with the guys that we have. Anthony Hickey and his speed, and I think the way that Andre (Stringer) is really shooting the ball. I like our wings (Shane Hammink and Malik Morgan). We're just probably young and lack experience, but I think those guys will be tested. When you look at Shane and Malik this week, it'll be a great test for them against a team of that caliber. I'm anxious just to see exactly how we will fare this early part of the season."

"We're going to have to do a great job of trying to keep them off the block and trying to force them to catch the ball in different areas on the floor where we can defend them. We've got to do a great job of putting good ball pressure on the passers and not allowing for easy passes to come into the post area. We just have to try and make some adjustments to make those guys uncomfortable in there if they are able to catch the ball. We can try and make sure that they take difficult shots in there and try to force them to pass the ball back out."

On what's been learned about the team thus far this season...
"Well, there are a lot of areas that we're going to have to really continue to work on. I can assure you there's a lot to be learned about this team, but it is an early part of the season. We have a lot of new guys. They're playing a lot of valuable minutes for us, including freshmen that have never played division one basketball before. I like the type of challenges that a team like this will present for us. We just have to go out there and play. Obviously, I think the games we've played at home will hopefully have prepared us for this. Northwestern State's not a BCS school, but they are a very challenging team. They played at Texas A&M last night and had a 10 to 12 point game there as well. So, that team was very challenging for us. I think our schedule, hopefully, has been set up for us to gradually, one, get better, get tested, and then get ready for an opportunity like this."

On motivating his team for a nationally televised game against a big opponent...
"I think the good part about this team is that because of our lack of experience and having a lot of young guys, all of our games have been the same from our first night out to our exhibition game. Our players are excited about taking the floor every night. This game, I think they understand that it's a Big EAST opponent. I'm hopeful that our mental approach will be the same. I obviously know that we're going to have to play a lot better than we probably have in those other games, but I want to make sure that, mentally, we're in the right place. I'm hopeful that we've prepared them this early part of the season to really take that type of approach."

On Shane Hammink performance against Mississippi Valley State...
"Really pleased with Shane, I think Shane is one of our best defenders on the floor. I thought he had a good first half. I thought in the second half he showed what he is capable of doing. He knocked down a couple of long threes. He made really good post passes as well. He showed off his game a little bit driving to the basket and finishing at the rim. The good part for Shane is we know that he is versatile, and I think he showed some of that the other night. He's continuing to develop, and he's really come into his comfort zone which is a good thing for us."

On Shavon Coleman being productive as a post player...
"He's more of a face-up guy, but I tell you what, he is a tremendous energy guy. He plays both ends of the floor, and he's a great competitor. I talked to him a little bit (Monday) in reference to his role and what he's doing on this team. He's about winning. He said, 'Coach, I don't care where I am - Inside, outside, starting or off the bench.' Just playing is important to him and winning is important to him. I think when you watch him play, you can appreciate that with Shavon Coleman."

On having experienced players like Shavon Coleman and Andre Stringer come off the bench...
"I think anytime you have an opportunity to get a push off the bench like those guys have been able to give us. I think anytime guys come off the bench, you want to look for some kind of spark and those guys have been able to give us that night in and night out. Both of them are very capable of being starters, and they've been playing starter type minutes. I'm hopeful that they can continue playing that way and still continuing that attitude that they've had when they come in the game because both of them are impact players and difference makers. I've been really pleased with both."

On eliminating the foul trouble against Seton Hall...
"Well, we've still got to go out and make sure we don't put ourselves in a position where we're playing passive. We've got to remain aggressive. We're a very hard-nosed, tough basketball team. We want to make sure we do a great job of containing the basketball and making people play over top. At times, you're going to get fouls called when the game is physical. We can't allow that to affect us. We're hopeful that we won't go in there and get in foul trouble, be it Johnny (O'Bryant III) or any of our post guys, or any of our guards for that matter. Sometimes, those things will play out. When they do, those guys that are coming off the bench have to be ready. If it's said that they have to play extended minutes that's just one of those things that will have to happen, and we'll have to make an adjustment. We've done that early on this year as well, be it foul trouble or injuries, and I think our guys have done an excellent job."

On Andre Stringer's outside shooting...
"Well, he's compact. He has tremendous range. He's one of the best long-range shooters that I've been around. He shoots the ball, and it's almost like it's effortless. I can tell you when he squares up and he's got a good look, I'm surprised at times when it doesn't go in. He's one of the better shooters I guess since Chris Jackson, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, which I've had an opportunity to be around. I like that. Now, Chris was really good off the bounce and the dribble, but Andre is one of those guys that if he can spot up and get a good look at the basket, I like his chances."

On Charles Carmouche's experience being a key factor for the team...
"The great thing about Carmouche is he's had an opportunity being there at the University of Memphis for that year, he had an opportunity to play against a lot of tough competition and top 25 programs night in and night out. I think it's really benefitted him. It's benefitted us by Carmouche being here with some of the leadership that he's been able to bring in. I think his desire to win, I think because the experience that he's had over the years, he's been a great addition to our team. I think that we saw that from the onset when he arrived on campus with his work habits, his toughness that he displays on the floor on the defensive end as well as on the offensive end where he's poised under pressure. That's been good for us. The other night he didn't take a shot, but I thought he made a huge impact on the (Mississippi Valley State) game. Defensively, he's one of our best defensive perimeter players that we have on the team."

On getting off to a 4-0 start...
"I'm excited because I'm hopeful that on Thursday night at 8:30 we'll have a really good crowd out here to come out and support this basketball team. I think these guys have done a tremendous job of doing what they needed to do in the early part of the season. I think with their style of play, the way that they've embraced it, our fans have been good. On Thursday night, we are hopeful our students that are still in school that we have a tremendous crowd because we know the impact that our fans have on the game."

On Andrew Del Piero's progression...
"I got here back in April and had an opportunity to see Andrew at that time. From the April period to our preseason practice and up until this date, I think he's continued to improve. He's improved immensely. I think what he's embraced with his attitude has really changed immensely. I think his confidence has really gotten better. The guys around him and how they treat him and the respect that they have for him now, you can see that. We're just delighted, and we're hopeful that he can continue to improve at that pace that he has over the last few weeks. I can tell you, he's made an impact in practice before the games because I think he's challenged Johnny (O'Bryant III) and made Johnny a better player. He's got the respect from Johnny now, and he's been able to take his practice to the game. I think you can see that in the confidence that he's just played with in the games."

On Andrew Del Piero playing against Seton Hall...
"I look forward to it. It's one of those things we had to worry about when we got into the year, how would he perform or was he doing some things in practice. Some guys can't transfer things from practice into games, and he's done a great job of doing that in this early part of the season. I look forward to the opportunities that he will have against Seton Hall on Thursday. I'm hopeful that he can continue to make the strides that he has. It won't be for his lack of preparation, his hustle or his mindset because I think he's ready for that type of challenge."

 


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