Tigers Prep For Home Basketball Return Wednesday

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
The Will Wade Show - Week 1 Men's Basketball Interviews - Nov. 27 +0
Tigers Prep For Home Basketball Return Wednesday

BATON ROUGE – Back home and readjusted to central time after three games in three days last week in Maui, the LSU men’s basketball team looks to play one more good game before a well-deserved break for final exam period on the LSU campus.

The Tigers and UT Martin will meet Wednesday at the Maravich Center at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office and online at LSUtix.net. Tickets can be purchased for just $2 for this game by showing a military ID.

There will also be a 55” television giveaway for students, who get in free with a valid student ID and the student-lounge will be open prior to the game from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

LSU is 3-2 after going 1-2 in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational and UT Martin, after winning 20 games last season, is struggling at 1-5. The Skyhawks were just in Baton Rouge a week ago as they lost to Southern at the F. G. Clark Activity Center.

Coach Will Wade met with the media on Monday and here were some of his comments:

On players saying emphasis in practice being on defense…
“It would be accurate. It has been our emphasis for a while now. It will continue to be an emphasis.”

On the defense in Maui…
“It was better against Michigan. The first half was good. The other two games were not very good.”

On the biggest issues with the defense
“I would say the number one issue is lack of communication. The number two issue is I have given them too many different coverages so we are going to simplify what we are doing so that way everyone knows what we are doing. Part of the reason we were better against Michigan is that we had two days to practice exactly what we were going to do before the game and everyone knew exactly where they were supposed to be and what was supposed to happen. I think if we simplify it that will hopefully alleviate some of those issues. At a certain point you just have to want to do it right. We have some guys that need to do a little bit better.”

On if the emotional high of beating Michigan played a factor in their other games…
“Certainly I don’t think we responded very well to the win. I could tell Notre Dame was going to be a long afternoon when we had shoot around that day … I was really concerned about the Notre Dame game. I thought we had ourselves back right for the Marquette game. Obviously we didn’t have (Brandon) Sampson, but we have played will without him. That is not an excuse. The last five minutes of the Michigan game we didn’t have Sampson either, he was fouled out. We didn’t play Duop (Reath) much or Sampson much. Duop and Sampson didn’t play hardly at all against Marquette and that is not an excuse. I told our guys that. I think the Michigan game was very emotional. We had been working on that all summer. We put a lot of time into preparing for them. Then the way we won, I think we took one step forward and two steps back. With where our team is now, Michigan is about as well as we could play up to this point in the season. That is about as well as we could have possibly have hoped to play. Where we were with a one day prep, Notre Dame probably would have beaten us 10 out of 10 times. We are just not at that level yet. We will get there. They have veteran guys and they can just perform well. It was going to be very difficult to beat Notre Dame. It would have taken a better effort than we gave against Michigan and them falling flat on their face, which neither was going to happen at that time. Then Marquette, we just let them get confidence and off to a good start and that really hurt us. Once we were able to settle in we were okay. We just had so many weird combinations of players out there. We had a lot of crazy circumstances in that game. It was one of the odder games I have ever been involved in. To be within two at halftime, I felt good. We just turned the ball over too much. That ended up killing us in that game. We turned the ball over way too much over there and that really hurts.”

On the competition in Maui being good for them…
“It was good for us. A good litmus test to see where we are. Obviously we are light years behind Notre Dame at this point. Marquette is a good club. They have two really good shooters. Obviously the four man killed us. We let their five man be a factor. They are a good ball club, Big East team. We certainly have a better understanding of where our guys are, who can perform when the lights are on. I was really proud of Tremont (Waters), the way he responded. The Notre Dame game wasn’t his best effort. He was certainly aware of that. Then to come out and play like that against Marquette was really good.”

On if losing Sampson affected the players…
“You would have to ask them. I would assume that it did. Like I said we scrimmaged Texas and had a chance to win that and he hardly played at all. We should be able to overcome that. He is a very good player. He really played an excellent floor game against Michigan. He was tremendous against Michigan. The stats don’t show it, but he played phenomenal. Defensively he had Duncan Robinson the whole time. The one shot Robinson made was not on him. It was a transition three where we didn’t close out properly. He really did a nice job. I was very proud of him that game. We need him back sooner rather than later. I thought it gave other guys an opportunity to step up. I thought Randy (Onwuasor) played better. He guarded pretty well. I thought he did a nice job in the Marquette game.”

On Brandon Sampson‘s injury…
“We have to get the swelling down. He was in here this morning at 6 a.m. and it was still swollen … Our doctors can’t really get a sense on where everything is until the swelling goes down. It could be a while.”

On how Tremont Waters handles the success he has had (such as SportsCenter top plays) …
“He is very mature. Most of them didn’t know. I took their phones after the game because I knew everyone was going to be going crazy so I gave them about 30 minutes to look at their phones. I don’t think SportsCenter had been played up to that point. We took their phones until the next day. I think most of them didn’t even know, I didn’t even know. It is good for our program and good for our school. Obviously to be on the right side of SportsCenter is a positive thing.”

On what surprised him in Maui…
“I thought the best thing is that we know what we have now. You can’t run and hide. We know exactly what we have. We know what we are dealing with. We know how guys react in stressful situations. To have a freshman out there at the end of the half in Brandon (Rachel) at the end of the game, for him and Sky (Skylar Mays) at the end of the game defend like that was really good. We have a much better understanding who we have, what we have, who we can count on, and who we can count of in certain situations. We see what happens when we prepare the right way. I thought we prepared very well for Michigan. I told them afterwards, ‘You thought that you guys prepared unbelievably well, I would say it was about a B.’ They thought it was an A+. I thought we prepared very well. Better for Michigan than anyone else. When you prepare well, it helps you play well. I also saw that we are not very good at handling success and we have a lot of work to do. Notre Dame is really good. I am watching Florida and Texas A&M last night. A lot of good teams in the SEC. We have a lot of work to do between now and January to get better and get ready.”

On the importance of playing well against UT Martin so it carries over into the break…
“We need to get better. We need to leave on a good foot here before we head off into exam break. Really we have six home games here, one at a time. We need to really improve as a team. Get our defense better. We need to get some guys healthy. Our teams have gotten better over Christmas break, traditionally. Our schedule and our plan, we always come out of Christmas break with long winning streaks so we need to make sure we stick to our plan and do the same thing.”

On what he wants to see improved against UT Martin…
“Our ball screen defense, our pressure. We need to play like we are supposed to play. I want to see a complete game. We have to have a beginning, middle, and end. It has to be a complete game. Not just we start off well, the middles pretty good. We need a complete game against UT Martin. That would be a good start for a good break, get a little momentum.”