Men's Basketball Takes on McNeese at PMAC

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Men's Basketball Takes on McNeese at PMAC

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team looks to get itself back on the winning side Thursday night when its hosts the McNeese State Cowboys at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

The 7 p.m. game is the second half of a day-night doubleheader in the building as the LSU women’s team plays an 11:30 a.m. contest in the PMAC. The nightcap will be televised regionally by Cox Sports Television and the game will also be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (WTGE New Country 100.7 FM The Tiger in Baton Rouge). The game will also be available online at www.LSUsports.net/live.

Tickets are available online at LSUtix.net and at the upper concourse ticket windows of the PMAC beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12).

LSU is 6-3 after losing to Coastal Carolina in overtime on Monday, while McNeese is also 6-3 after a home win over Southwest Assemblies of God. The Cowboys have won four straight games. Their three losses have come on opponent’s courts – at Washington, at Southern Miss and at Miami.

Coach Trent Johnson, in visiting with the media Wednesday, said that his team went through a “visual and mental day” on Tuesday.

“We watched the complete game against Coastal Carolina, and then we watched the breakdown video of McNeese,” said Johnson. “I figure it was alarming to them as players how badly we played from the standpoint of rebounding, missed block outs and breakdowns defensively. We now move on to McNeese State who is a much more explosive team than the team we just got through playing. They are very good off the bounce and they can shoot it from deep. Watching us play them last year they had 16 offensive rebounds. We need to bounce back to our level of intensity and our level of discipline on the defensive side in making sure you don’t side-check or put your body on a guy, you block him out. At the point of attack we have to do a better job defensively keeping them out of the middle.”

Against Coastal Carolina, the Tigers turned the ball over 16 times (that turned into 17 points for Coastal) and was outrebounded 45-35, including 16 offensive rebounds that led to a 19-10 advantage in second chance points. LSU rallied from nine points down in the final 12 minutes to force overtime at 64-64 before losing 78-69.
 
“Again, going back to Coastal Carolina, it was the first game back from the break and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” Johnson said (40.6 percent, but just 25 percent in the final 25 minutes). “That is one of the things I have always believed and tried to express to the kids, you can hang your hat on defense and rebounding because some days the shots aren’t going to fall and that was a perfect example.”

Junior Patrick Richard of Carencro is the leading scorer for Mcneese State, averaging 17.0 points per game for the season and has scored 20 or more points in his last four games. Three-point shooter Diego Kapelan is second with a 15.1 mark, while reserve Stephan Martin is coming off the bench for 10.1 points a contest.

Andre Stringer has led the Tigers in scoring in eight games and averaged 15.2 points per game, while another freshman Ralston Turner, averages 12.4 and sophomore Aaron Dotson scores at 10.7 points per game pace for the Tigers.

Following Thursday’s game, the Tigers will play a “neutral court” home game in Bossier City, La., at the CenturyTel Center against Wichita State at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets for the game are on sale at the CenturyTel box office and at Ticketmaster.com.

LSU basketball can be followed on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUBasketball and on Twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUCoachJohnson.

Trent Johnson Media Session
December 15, 2010

Opening Statement …
“I guess I should start by saying that (Tuesday) was a visual and mental day. We watched the complete game against Coastal Carolina, and then we watched the breakdown video of McNeese. I figure it was alarming to them as players how badly we played from the standpoint of rebounding, missed block outs and breakdowns defensively. We now move on to McNeese State who is a much more explosive team than the team we just got through playing. They are very good off the bounce and they can shoot it from deep. Watching us play them last year they had 16 offensive rebounds. We need to bounce back to our level of intensity and our level of discipline on the defensive side in making sure you don’t side-check or put your body on a guy, you block him out. At the point of attack we have to do a better job defensively keeping them out of the middle. I fully expect us to play a lot better in that regard. Again, going back to Coastal Carolina, it was the first game back from the break and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. That is one of the things I have always believed and tried to express to the kids, you can hang your hat on defense and rebounding because some days the shots aren’t going to fall, and that was a perfect example.”

On what the team can do in the game to be more consistent …
“That is the million dollar question. We have a group of guys here who are good kids. It is not like they didn’t hear it during the course of that game, or they didn’t hear it during the course of practice. It is just a matter of being consistent, and it is very obvious. I am not going to talk about us being young and inexperienced and all of that, but it is very obvious that we have had some problems being consistent in games. All we can do and all I can do is keep addressing it and keep working on it, and hopefully sooner or later there will be a point in time where we will develop some consistency. I am talking about being consistent for 40 minutes. Sometimes the team you are playing is going to be bigger, stronger and faster, but that doesn’t mean you don’t work or try to make an effort to put a body on him. The other side of that is kids like to score and play offense, and you guys like to write about offense. That is what players do, they always want to make their offense and their shot dictate how well they play. I have never seen a player, regardless of what sport, not make a shot and then spring back on defense and start clapping his hands. I wish it would be that way, because to me that is what makes a team great.”

On Garrett Green
“Well he has been doing a good job for us because he is playing within the system. He is not trying to do too much. He is just trying to go up and grab the ball with two hands after he blocks out, and he is leading the team in rebounds per minute. I fully expected it going into this year for him to play better. He is a guy who has been around awhile and he has some athletic ability. As long as he continues to concentrate and not try and do too much, he is going to continue to improve and do a decent job.”

On if Aaron Dotson will always defend McNeese’s highest scoring guard …
“Not necessarily (he is) the quickest but it is about overall matchups. If you are looking at speed, Chris Bass is the quickest player on the perimeter, but Aaron (Dotson) has always guarded the bigger guard and highest scoring guard. They have got three that are explosive and you have to get up after them early. This is a team that is much more explosive if you don’t defend them. We need to get out to a fast start and we need to be physical within the confines of how the game is going to called and played. We are going to go the same way we always have, Andre Stringer is going to guard their point, Aaron Dotson is going to guard their two/three and Ralston Turner is going to guard the other guard. Then we will come off the bench with Chris (Bass), Matt (Derenbecker) and maybe (Daron) Populist, and go from there.”

On how he evaluates the freshmen’s improvement …
“Well if they are not making the same mistake over and over again. Some of them are, and some aren’t. Do you evaluate that based on who they are playing against or what they have seen? So much is made of these guys being freshman and expectations and what they did in high school, but it is all different for each individual. For Ralston Turner and Andre Stringer, they came from high school systems where they didn’t have to guard anybody. When they get here, help side, weak side and point of attack terminology is new to them. Then there is Matt (Derenbecker) who played in a more structured environment, but the level of talent and athleticism is foreign to him. Jalen Courtney is probably the only guy who was prepared for defensive concepts than all of them. You have to take all that into consideration, but when I say make the same mistake twice I mean making the same mistake twice. It is not just the freshmen, we have guys that have been playing two or three years making the same mistakes over and over again. That is a team thing rather than an individual, and that is when you become a good team rather than an average team when you can put yourself into situations where you are not making the same mistakes and you are beating the teams you are supposed to beat.”