Basketball Addresses Media During Extended Break

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Basketball Addresses Media During Extended Break

BATON ROUGE — The LSU men’s basketball team returns to the court on Saturday against Northwestern State at 7 p.m. in the first of four home games in eight days for the Tigers. LSU will also play Southeastern on Monday, Nicholls State on Dec. 17 and Rice on Dec. 19.

There is no television for the Northwestern State game but it will be available on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge) and in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net. Tickets for the game are on sale at LSUsports.net and Saturday at the upper concourse ticket windows beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Coach Johnson and members of the Tiger team met with the media on Thursday afternoon for their weekly pre-game media session and here are some of the comments:

LSU Men’s Basketball Media Session
December 10, 2009

LSU HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON

Opening statement…
Dennis Harris has two herniated discs in his lower back. The initial injury was diagnosed last summer in July, and he reinjured it on Dec. 6. He missed two practices, and right now it’s a game-day decision. He should be OK, but we’re going to see. Other than that, everybody is going through the similar type. Garrett Green‘s ankle is better. He is 90 percent from what (Head Basketball Trainer) Shawn Eddy tells me. Aaron (Dotson) is 90 percent. Bo (Spencer) is 90 percent, so other than that, we’re making some progress from an injury standpoint.”

On who will start for Dennis Harris and if Bo Spencer will start Saturday…
Eddie Ludwig would start for Dennis Harris. We have two more days (to decide if Spencer will start), and he’s going to have to practice better. He’s going to have to play better and practice better.”

On if he is encouraging Chris Bass to step up and take more shots…
No, that’s something that has to do with the start of this year, and that’s the same old thing that there is going to be a lot of attention paid to Tasmin Mitchell. There is going to be a lot of attention now paid to Storm Warren because the percentages don’t lie. Bo is not shooting the ball very well, but Chris is in a situation where he doesn’t shoot the ball very well from the perimeter, so people have a tendency not to respect him. Obviously if you have an open shot within the framework of what we do offensively, you need to step up and shoot it. We’re six games in. There isn’t a guy on this team I talk to about stepping up and shooting the ball. I always talk about being aggressive, and that’s one of the things with us. We can’t let a missed shot or a bad play dictate how we compete at the other end of the floor. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves because of an injury or a mood swing here or there. That’s probably been the one thing that has been going on during the course of these last three or four days of practice. Our mental and our physical toughness are being challenged on every possession. You have to stay aggressive. You know that old term, ?Woe is me?’ There is no feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to compete, and like I told them, let your ability to set a screen, let your ability to defend, let your ability to sprint back on defense dictate the kind of player you are, not whether you make an open jump shot or miss an open jump shot. Defense, rebounding and taking care of the ball is going to give you a chance to stay in games and compete.

“You look at the two teams that have beaten us, obviously UConn and then an Arizona State team that to the people who don’t follow them very well is a very good basketball team. That’s a team that is an experienced group who returned everybody with the exception of two guys who are playing in the NBA. Even if we had Bo, we were going to have to play extremely hard and play extremely well to beat them. We’re addressing all of that on a constant basis as a staff and putting these guys in situations whether they are on offense or defense. Offensively, you have to pass and catch. You have to set a screen. You have to make good passes. If you are in the post, you have to shape up with two hands and be strong with the ball and make a good play, and if you have an angle to the basket, shoot a good, strong, hard, powerful lay up as opposed to being timid because there may be a little contact. It’s not easy. When you’re inexperienced or use your inexperience as an excuse, that doesn’t work. The bottom line is you have to play. Everybody here has an opportunity to play and make plays, and we all have to get better at that. In terms of what has been going on the last two or three days. Storm has been Storm. He’s been out there and competing his tail off. Tasmin is finding another gear. He is competing his tail off and so on and so forth, but we need to have everybody in that respect.” 

On Northwestern State circling this game on its calendar…
“For me, that’s not my worry, and there isn’t a lot of thought that I put into any of that as opposed to we’re playing a team that puts their uniforms on the same way we put ours on. It’s competition. I happen to know Mike McConathy. I think he is a very, very good basketball coach. It’s a new season, new game and new year and all those kind of things. I don’t put a lot of stock into worrying about that kind of stuff. I just know where we’re at and how fast we need to improve to continue to get better and have a chance to compete game-in and game-out regardless of who it is.”

LSU PLAYER QUOTES

Guard Chris Bass

On the 10-day break…
“It was a great time to focus on school but on the basketball court also. Everybody has been getting after each other. We are just ready to get back on the court. Tasmin has gotten his rhythm back from the UL-Lafayette game. He was looking good in practice. Bo’s ankle has gotten a chance to heal, and everybody has their confidence right now. I think we are ready for the next game, and everybody is going to show it.”

On Northwestern State…
“A lot of the teams from Louisiana come here and figure they are going to try to upset us, but we are always going to try to protect home court, play good defense and do the assignments that coach Johnson has for us.”

On Storm Warren‘s emergence…
“Storm is a great player. We were roommates last year, and he was always ready. Whenever coach called his name, he was going to be ready. This year he’s stepped up and been unbelievable right now with rebounding, dunking and everything. He’s getting all the credit, and he’s worked hard all summer.”

Forward Tasmin Mitchell

On the break…
“It allowed coach Johnson to come up with a whole new practice scheme. He had really been going at it. He had been running us a lot. We’ve really been competing with a lot of physical contact. We’ve had a couple of days off. We’ve just really changed our own look in practice and been really physical with each other.”

On Storm Warren
“He gets rebounds and scores in the post. He’s just a physical guy. We love to have him around the goal, getting blocks and playing good defense. Storm is playing terrific basketball right now.”

Guard Bo Spencer

On coach Johnson…
“He tells us to stay in our stance, quit being so casual and lackadaisical with the ball. We’ve been doing ?rip throughs,’ staying in the stance, having contact and all of those things. We’ve been playing on the perimeter and doing a lot of drill work and skill work. We are trying to get back together, take care of the ball and always staying in your stance.”

On how much the team needed the short break…
“We realized that it is not going to be as easy as we thought. We really are going to have to come out and play hard everyday, practice hard everyday and just give 100 percent in everything we do.”