Basketball Back To Work; Coach Wade Meets With Media

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
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Basketball Back To Work; Coach Wade Meets With Media

BATON ROUGE – It was back to work Thursday for the LSU men’s basketball team as the Nov. 10 season opener draws ever closer for Coach Will Wade and his Tigers.

Wade wasted no time working to clean up the mistakes from the exhibition game at Tulane on Tuesday as the team watched film early Thursday and then headed to the practice floor Thursday afternoon after Coach Wade with the media for his weekly media session.

The Tigers will open the season on Nov. 10 against Alcorn State at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The game is at 7 p.m. and the night before the LSU-Arkansas football game. Tickets start at $1 and are available at LSUtix.net and at six area Winn-Dixie Stores. It will be the first of two home games, the other on Nov. 16, before LSU travels to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Nov. 20-22.

LSU’s success scoring in the 84-74 loss to Tulane came from its veteran players as senior Duop Reath had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Skylar Mays had 19 points. LSU had 10 turnovers and out rebounded the Wave, 48-39, including 19-3 on the offensive end.

The LSU coach knows his team can and will play better and with some players, especially Aaron Epps returning to full health as the opener draws near, the team will be working hard to clean up some of the issues from the exhibition contest.

Here are some of Coach Wade’s comments from today’s media session:

Opening Statement…
“Injury update. (Jeremy) Combs has been cleared fully so hopefully we can start working him back into the lineup. I think (Aaron) Epps is making good progress. He can walk out of the boot and is able to walk with his shoes on now. I feel like he is moving in a good direction. Galen (Alexander) is healthy as well. We are as healthy as we have been in a while. Epps will be full go next week and we will go from there. Didn’t play particularly well defensively on Tuesday. Very disappointing. Poor outing defensively and we have a ton of stuff to work on there. Our offense was jittery, but we didn’t turn the ball over but 10 times. We took some poor shots and our movement was not very good. We tried to do too much off the bounce and we did not have enough assists. We have a lot of stuff to work on. We played a little bit harder than we have been playing, but we can play a lot harder than we played. We have a lot of work to do between now and the first game.”

On the number of threes that LSU took (24) …
“I’m fine with it if they are better shots. We took too many contested shots. I thought six or seven of them were shots where we didn’t want to have any fortitude to get in the paint and make something happen so we settled for the path of least resistance which was to hoist up the longest three we could hoist up. There are three or four other ones where we had Duop (Reath) had his guy sealed on his back. He is shooting 57 percent between our scrimmage and the game. We have guys jacking up three shooting 30 percent, and Duop is wide open with someone on his back and he can throw to ball inside and let us play inside out. That’s what we are going to have to do. I thought 24 is not a bad number if the threes are good threes. We should be able to hit, the way we shoot it, 10 out of 24 but when you are taking bad threes you aren’t going to make many of them.”

On how Duop is at getting and finishing entry passes…
“I thought he did a pretty good job in deep post position. He is our best offensive option. The second option is not even close to where he is. We are going to play through him. We are going to feed him the ball. We did not give him enough touches. It was three or four more times that we could have gotten him the ball but we took some ill-advised shots.”

On the biggest problems with the defense…
“Our help defense was non-existent. We were hugged up to our mid on the weak side. Our point of attack defense was poor. Our ability to follow the scouting report wasn’t very good. We just got whipped time and time again on the ball and got put in poor rotation. I am self-critical. I look at myself when things go wrong. I am the one you blame. This was all stuff we have taught for six months and we just had huge breakdowns. We have to get it corrected. Part of it is that we are playing the wrong guys. We have been trying some of these guys and hoping they would come around defensively and the experiments are over. We are going to play some different guys and different lineups and give other guys some chances.”

On tinkering with the point guard spot…
“We are going to mess with that. Our best point guards are Skylar (Mays) and Tremont (Waters). We are going to play with those guys and get better at those spots. I think Tre has had some good practices. We didn’t play as well in the game. Part of it was not his fault. Part of it was our wings were not spaced properly. Our screens were not set at the proper angle. We were not able to get him going. A lot of it was not his doing. It was his teammates not helping him out enough. We will get that stuff corrected … I think Tre is going to be a very good point guard for us. We are going to have to live with some mistakes but he is a talented kid. He is the one guy that can get in the paint and get by people. ”

On if it was good to have an exhibition game before the season…
“I think so. It was good for our players. I knew what was coming. I think some of our guys were a bit surprised. Our staff could see it coming from a mile away. It was good for our guys to get a sense for maybe they aren’t as dumb as I think sometimes. We called this shot, it wasn’t very difficult to call. I think it was good. We have some film and that big screen doesn’t lie. Our standards aren’t high enough. When you raise the standards a little bit, they feel like they have done something. The standards are a lot higher than where we are right now. What we have been doing is not good enough. We have to continue to go forward.”

On doing something different on offense…
“Our offense is jittery and the guys that are supposed to make shots are not making shots and not making plays. We might as well put our best defenders out there. What is the point in playing all these guys that can score if they can’t score? They are not guarding anybody and that has been proven. That is going to be the identity of our program. We are going to play the best guys that give us the best chance to win. I overplayed some of the guys and that is on me. That is not going to happen again. That is my fault.”

On what he means by a “jittery” offense…
“We are just not clean. The cuts aren’t clean, they are thinking too much, and the spacing is not right. It is all spacing. We don’t sprint to where we are supposed to sprint to. We don’t get into it quick enough. You get offensive freedom when you play really hard defensively. If you are not going to play as hard as we want you to o defensively then I am going to control the offense too. We are going to rein everything back in and I will make sure the right guys was going to get shots and throw the thing in the post. Tried and true basketball. Duop is good enough to where if it is one on one he is going to score. If it is not one on one that means somebody has helped and our perimeter players are good enough because if it is 4 on 3 on the perimeter we are going to make a play. That’s what we are going to do. Simple basketball.

On what he has seen from Aaron Epps so far…
“He is going to contribute. We miss him. He is a big piece of what we are doing. He is a weapon. A couple of those threes that some of these other guys were taking, he would have knocked them down. He just gives us a little bit more height. You can’t shoot over the top of us in the four spot. There is no doubt in my mind that he is going to help us. I told you Skylar has gotten better, he has gotten better. I told you Duop has gotten better, he has gotten better. I told you Epps was a guy that has gotten better, I promise you he has gotten better. They are our three most improved players. It showed. Duop and Sky were our two leading scorers and Epps would have been right up there with them. They are our three most consistent, hardest working guys.”

On working on defense before the season starts…
“We have been working on it for 6 months. We have to get better. We have to play a little bit harder with what we are doing. We know what to do and we just have to play it better and have a want to play it better. There is no refinements. We have to execute what we are supposed to execute. We taught everything. They know what to do and now we have to do it. We have to execute what we are supposed to execute. There are no secrets. We have to do the simple things a lot better.”