Coach Wade Meets With Media; Practice Starts Friday

by Kent Lowe (@LSUkent)
Will Wade Press Conference - Sept. 24 +0
Coach Wade Meets With Media; Practice Starts Friday

BATON ROUGE – LSU men’s basketball head coach Will Wade met with local and area media on Monday prior to the start of practice for the 2018-19 season on Friday.

The Tigers open their regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 6, when LSU hosts Southeastern at 7:30 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in the second half of a women and men’s basketball doubleheader.

Ticket information for the 2018-19 season can be found at LSUtix.net.

During the session, Coach Wade discussed how some of his returnees had looked in the summer and preseason practice sessions, expectations for the team and discussed some of the newcomers from a recruiting class that was ranked fourth in the country by 247sports and its composite rankings.

The second-year head coach of the Tigers also talked about working on things that need to be improved from last year and how the youth of this year’s team will have to transition from high school and junior college habits quickly with LSU’s tough non-conference schedule.

Here are a few of Coach Wade’s comments from Monday’s session:

HEAD COACH WILL WADE

On Official Start To Practice …
“We’ve been practicing for — with the new rules we can pretty much practice whenever, so we’ve been doing team stuff for pretty much two or three days all summer and two or three days a week in the preseason. It’s not like this is a revolutionary start to everything.”

On how the team looks heading into the first official practice of the season…
“We’re a work in progress. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ve got good players. We’ve got good talent. We’ve got some work to do.”

On how he addressed some of the issues from last season by adding new pieces…
“Some of our issues were schematic, but hopefully we solved some shot blocking and some rim protection just by getting bigger and more athletic at the rim. Hopefully we’ll be better defensively by being longer at the wings. Hopefully our on ball defense will be better. Hopefully by being bigger and playing a little bigger, we’ll be able to rebound the ball. Hopefully all those things will be gone just with our new pieces.”

On how the additional talent will allow them to do more schematically…
“I think the more talent you have, the less you need to do with all that sort of stuff. I think you need to put them in positions where they’re not thinking, and playing off their natural talent. We’re trying to get really good at just a few things. Last year we had just a grab bag of stuff that we just kind of would take from each game and see what works. This year I think we need to be really, really good on two or three things on defense and really, really good at three or four things on offense. If we can do that, and then you allow the natural talent and the natural ability to take over, I don’t think you have to get too tricky or too exotic when you’ve got a good team.”

On how important rebounding is to fix from last year…
“Number one … we had a laundry list of stuff we had to fix. That was certainly on the list. Rebounding, defensive positioning, our ball screens on defense, post defense, on the ball defense. You name it. Our foot angles, our foot positioning, you name it, we had hundreds of things to fix with the defense. Certainly it doesn’t help us if we have a good defensive possession and then can’t rebound the ball.”

On if he feels that there has been a foundation for the program moving ahead…
“Our returners have done a really, really nice job. They’ve really improved. They’ve changed their bodies. They have a good understanding of what it takes and how this scheme works. Our returners are certainly leading the way with things. I’ve been very pleased with those guys.”

On having expectation for a good season…
“I think expectations are good. Like I said, our expectations internally are going to be much higher, but that doesn’t matter. You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to earn the right to win. I talk to our players all the time, you’ve got to earn the right to play. Just because you show up doesn’t mean good things are going to happen. You’ve got to earn it every day with what you do. Earn it with how you build you habits and build really, really good habits and build championship habits every day. We’ve got to earn it. Each of our guys has to earn the right to earn their minutes. As a team we’ve got to collectively earn the right to win. The non-conference games are going to be tough. You look at teams in the league. Kentucky — over 30 years has earned the right to win. They’ve earned the right to be where they are. Auburn and Tennessee, last year, earned the right to win the championship and they earned the benefit of the doubt. We’re not in that position. We haven’t won anything, you know, in a while. So we’re not in that position, so we’ve got to work every day to earn it, and build good habits, and give ourselves an opportunity. Certainly our expectations internally are to work real hard and to put ourselves in the best position to earn opportunities to win and earn opportunities to be on the big stage.”

On how the newcomers have adjusted to being a part of the team…
“We’re young. This is a different level. This is different. Our guys are great learners. They’re trying extremely hard. I’m proud of how we’ve progressed, but they’re just young. You’ve got to coach a lot of things. You’ve got to teach a lot of things. My staff’s done a phenomenal job of coaching and teaching them up. I think my staff is excited about the opportunity to do that, but we’ve got to grow these guys. We’ve got to grown them Just simple things. Just really, really simple things, I mean like how to reverse the ball, how to pivot, how to catch. There’s just a lot of things that you can get away with maybe before you get here that you can’t get away with here and certainly can’t get away with at the next level. It goes back to what I was saying earlier. We’ve got to change habits and we’ve got to make sure we’re developing and installing the right habits. The number one thing the young guys have is great attitude and the willingness to learn and a willingness to get better. Then from there it’s on us to do that, but it’s going to be a growth process throughout practice and certainly throughout the season.”

On having many players who can play more than one position…
“That’s what we want. You’ve got to have guys that can play multiple spots. It goes back to what I was talking about earlier. If you’ve got three guys out there that can handle the ball, in theory you shouldn’t turn the ball over too much and you should be able to get a shot on the basket with those guys. They each bring something different. Tremont (Waters) play making ability to get in the paint. Ja’vonte (Smart) really pushes the ball in transition. He just kind of bulldozes his way in there and can make things happen and shoots it well. Skylar (Mays) is a cerebral player and plays at different speeds. He’s a change of speed, change of pace type of guy. I think each of them brings something different to us and that’s what you want. Then we have other options. We haven’t even talked about Daryl Edwards who’s been tremendous, shooting the ball as well as he’s ever shot it. He’s tough. Somebody that we love. We’re going to have plenty of options.”