Men's Basketball Preps for Saturday's Florida Game

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Men's Basketball Media Session - Feb. 19 +0
Men's Basketball Preps for Saturday's Florida Game

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s basketball team looks to get back on the winning track Saturday at Noon when the Florida Gators come to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Tickets are available at www.LSUtix.net and at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office all day Friday. For the second straight year, the game will be nationally televised on CBS and the broadcast as usual will be available on the LSU Sports Radio Network.

LSU is 18-7 and 7-6 in the Southeastern Conference in a tie for fifth, while Florida is at 13-13 and 7-6. LSU lost at Texas A&M on Tuesday night, 68-62, while Florida won at home by three points against Vanderbilt.

LSU has three home games remaining in the final five home games and is trying to solidify its resume’ and seeding heading into next month’s SEC Tournament. The team took Wednesday off and returned to practice on Thursday in preparation for the early tip on Saturday.

Before the practice, Coach Johnny Jones met with the media and here are some of his comments:

Opening Statement
“I thought we played well in some spurts the other night during a tough setback at Texas A&M. We are looking forward to getting back home and playing against a Florida team that had a good win (Wednesday) against Vanderbilt. We know it is certainly going to be a challenge for us. They are a team that has the ability to stretch your defense. It is a team that obviously played in the Final Four just a year ago—the experience that they have on their basketball team. With what we are trying to do down the stretch, these last several games are really important for us. It’s going to be important that we are playing the right way. Wins have to be our focus and certainly are on our mind now coming down the stretch.”

On Florida being a dangerous team despite the loss of some of their key players…
“It did last night (make them more dangerous without the play of Dorian Finney-Smith and Michael Frazier II). I thought they did an excellent job of maybe not having as much depth as they normally would, but I thought the guys who stepped in did an excellent job of making shots and making plays down the stretch for them throughout the game. I thought it was a tough game for them. For those guys to step up in crucial situations and make plays down the stretch to win the game right there at the end, it tells you the terms of their mental focus that they have on their team.”

On having a sense of urgency during this last month of the season to win games…
“It starts (having a sense of urgency) at the beginning of the season when you start playing, that’s what sports are all about. Anytime the clock is ticking or whatever is going on, it’s always about the sense of urgency and understanding that. The more in-depth you get with it, the more familiar you are with it and the more you react that way, I think the better chances you have of having your share of success. Without it, it tends to give you an opportunity to have setbacks. That’s what you would like to try to prevent and avoid and really stay away from.”

On if the team needs more structure on the offense end…
“They have a lot of structure in a sense in terms of what we do, but what we try to do with the structure that we have is teach guys how to play. That’s the most important thing is learning how to play. Everybody has your team scouted. You have a 35-second clock. Any time you get into plays and if somebody should disrupt that and take it away from you, your guys need to understand where they need to be on the floor – the spacing, who should be taking shots from certain areas. If your team is familiar with that, you have better chances of really being successful. If you watch any number of teams – be it last night with Duke against North Carolina – late in games things break down and Tyus Jones has to come off of the high screen and make the next play for them. Our team is no different, and those are the same things that we are trying to teach and become more familiar with our team as well.”

On Brian Bridgewater‘s performance at Texas A&M…
“I thought it was a follow-up for him from his game at Tennessee. I thought he did a great job at Tennessee playing and gave us some quality minutes when Jarell (Martin) got in foul trouble there in the first half. I thought in the game the other night (at Texas A&M) that he probably played the most minutes that he had in any game this year, and he goes 4-for-4 from the field. He does a great job on the defensive end. He made a heck of a hustle play there that they probably should have had a backcourt called on. It was unfortunate that they didn’t make the call, but I thought he made a great hustle play there for us as well. I thought with the minutes that he got that he did a tremendous job.”

On Brian Bridgewater being a productive player off the bench…
“I think it is a huge positive for us. To be able to look at and have a guy like that come on at this part of the season is what we need. When you talk about depth, he is able to give you that. Again, I have always been confident in what he is capable of doing. I think he has done a tremendous job of putting that together over the last couple games for us. His practices have allowed him to do that because he has had some really good practices leading up to those games as well.”

On Brian Bridgewater‘s versatility…
“He hit a little runner with the hook and the elbow jumper. Both of those are good shots, and he also made a power move to the basket as well. I think it was two or three different moves that he was able to make. Those are the things that he was able to work on each day in practice. For him to step out and knock down the elbow jumper, it was a big shot for us because it was during a crucial part of the game. They played off of him, and he was able to knock that shot down. That says a lot about his confidence as well.”

On if Jalyn Patterson has met expectations during his freshman season…
“Yes, I think Jalen has done a really good job offensively for us and really in spurts on the defensive end as well. He has to continue to improve. He will continue to get bigger and stronger. Defensively, he may have had some lapses or breakdowns, but that is going to come with time really for him. He gives you great effort out there on the floor, and he does not turn the ball over. That is a big positive for us.”

On if he sees Jalyn Patterson playing more point guard in the future…
“It kind of depends. He is an excellent outside shooter. He is one of our better 3-point shooters. He has shown that he is crafty enough to handle the ball in certain situations for us. He is versatile enough to play both for us, which will allow him to have a lot of valuable minutes out there on the floor. As we continue to progress and get better, you can have two guys like that out there on the floor with point guard type skills. It really won’t matter because you won’t be able to tell whoever has the ball will have the ability to lead us out there on the fast break and be able to initiate our offense for us.”

On if he sees players preserving energy during games due to the large amount of minutes they are asked to play …
“I think what happens is that we may have guys trying to maybe find some time on the floor because of the minutes that they are playing to maybe find some rest. That is dangerous because the caliber teams that we play. You can not afford to do that because any time that you necessarily take a play off or not going as hard can cost you. That may be getting back defensively, it may be a block out and or going and getting a rebound out of the area. Any of those combinations of things can hurt you because it becomes a possession. Possessions are valuable to us, and it can cost us. I’m sure when guys are playing 36-37 minutes a game that there is obviously some of that out there especially at the pace that we play.”

On the players focusing on the big picture and potential NCAA Tournament talk …
“I think it is good to be tuned-in and understand the big picture of what you are trying to do. By explaining to the guys what that is all about and the difference in being one of those 68 teams and how important it is and how do you get there. For us, its winning and what we have to do to make sure that we can secure one of those spots. That is important. By putting that picture out there for them, all of those guys sitting in there want to play in the NCAA Tournament. At the end of the day, what is it that we have to do to put ourselves in that position? It’s Win. What do we have to do to win these next games? As an individual, what is it that you can do that is going to allow us collectively to get where we are trying to go? That is certainly what we talk about. It’s not something you talk about in the beginning of the year. You throw it out there, you let the year progress. This time of the year, we are sitting on four-five games left. It’s going to make a difference in what you’re doing in getting to postseason.”