Tigers Ready To Start Basketball Practice Friday

by LSUsports.net (@LSUsports)
Will Wade Press Conference Skylar Mays Press Conference +0
Tigers Ready To Start Basketball Practice Friday

BATON ROUGE – Coach Will Wade and his Tigers are getting ready for the start of official practice for the 2019-20 men’s basketball season as LSU will have 30 practices in a 42-day period starting on Friday.

The Tigers, 28-7 last year, won the Southeastern Conference championship with a 16-2 record and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 before losing to Michigan State.

LSU traveled to Spain in August and posted a 3-1 record, including a victory over the FC Barcelona Silver team. The Tigers only loss was a four-point decision to the Dominican Republic National Team, ranked No. 18 in the world and headed at that time to the FIBA World Cup.

The Tigers will play an exhibition game on Nov. 2 at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston against Louisiana Tech for tornado relief in the Ruston area. Tickets are available through the Louisiana Tech website for the 4 p.m. contest.

LSU opens the season at home on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. against Bowling Green. Ticket information for the 2019-20 season is available at LSUtix.net.

Coach Wade and Skylar Mays met with the media on Monday. Both interviews are available in the video section of LSUsports.net and here are some of Coach Wade’s comments:

Coach Will Wade Press Conference
September 23, 2019

Opening statement…
“We are excited to get started on Friday. I feel like we are a little ahead obviously from the trip to Spain. We have more of our offensive stuff in. More of defensive stuff in. Now we just have to fine tune things as we get started with regular practice. The biggest thing for us is we need to get into a normal routine. We haven’t had a normal routine since we got back from Spain so we are a little bit all over the place. We need a much better routine as we start practice on Friday and get into our weekly habits. I like our group. We are progressing. It is going to be a challenge.

“We are a talented group, we have a good team, it is just can we do some of the little things? Can we handle some of the details? Can we make some of the toughness plays that we made last year down the stretch in games? I think that is the biggest question we have as we go into practice here. We have plenty of skill. We have better shooting. We have good enough players, but can we do a lot of the little things? Can we get loose balls? Can we get stops? Can we stop runs by having good offensive possessions? Those are some of the traits last year’s team was able to develop as the season went on. Can we do that, especially earlier in the season?”

On the team being loose…
“We’re in (boot camp) right now. We have a tight knit group. I have said that a lot. The guys actually generally like each other. A lot of times (teams) kind of fake it a little bit. These guys actually genuinely enjoy each other and hanging out together. Certainly, we have to have a business-like approach with what we do. It can’t all be loosey goosey all the time. It is a fine line there. We will figure out where that is.”

How the new players’ personality fits in with the team…
“You look at their personality, their work ethic, do they come from winning programs, have they been around winning, or have they been exposed to winning which all of these guys have. All of our newcomers have won at a high level. I think having guys that come from winning programs brings certain traits and certain characteristics that carry over no matter what sport you’re doing or where you’re playing. If you can win and know how to win, that is one of the main characteristics we look for.”

On the importance of seeing the young guys play in Spain…
“We played Javonte (Smart) and Skylar (Mays) a little more in that one game against the Dominican Republic but all the rest of them we didn’t play them near as much. We wanted to see the younger guys. I thought Charles (Manning Jr.) was phenomenal, Trendon Watford led us in scoring and James Bishop had his moments. So I think we got a lot out of the trip from those guys and just understanding where they are, what we need to improve on, and what we need to get better on. Now we have to fine tune things as we start practice. We are certainly ahead of where we would have been if we hadn’t been on the trip. It does us no good to have that advantage if we can’t press that advantage and continue to move forward and continue to get better.”

On Emmitt Williams‘ progression over the summer…
“Emmitt’s been very consistent, very dependable. He’s worked extremely hard and I think his game has taken off because of that. He’s been very aggressive and done a great job rebounding the ball and does a tremendous job on the offensive glass, along with Darius Days. Both of those guys have really improved. Emmitt’s put in the work. His jump shot has gotten a lot better, he’s putting time into it. He’s taking it seriously. He understands what’s ahead of him now and what we have coming. I think it’s been very beneficial for him to have that point of reference last year and understand that there’s things he wants to do at a higher level. I’m very excited about what he’s done and what he’ll bring to the team this year.”

On Skylar Mays‘ leadership…
“Yeah, don’t remind me he’s a senior. He’s everything you want, he does everything that you want right, he does it all right the first time. He’s really kind of grown into a leader this past year more … he’s not going to be the most vocal leader, but he leads by example. With some things in the past you don’t really want to put too much on him, he kind of handles his own business and don’t want him to worry about anybody else, he wants his senior year to go extremely, extremely well. He cares, he likes all of our guys and wants them to have a smooth transition which in turn will help him have a great senior year. He’s just a tremendous player, a tremendous leader, a tremendous teammate, tremendous worker, every good description you could have to describe somebody that’s a high, level person you would use to describe him. He means everything to our team and to our program we’re excited to do the best we can for him this year for his senior year and send him out well along with Marshall (Graves)and Marlon (Taylor) and the rest of the guys.”

On being ahead of the schedule with practicing…
“We’ve got to continue to build our defense and continue to build our toughness habits, I’m more worried about some of our grit and some of our toughness especially in the last 6 minutes of games so we’ve got to develop that and identify that. That just doesn’t happen overnight. I think that’s going to be a huge focal point for us and just continue to just get better in our defensive fundamentals. We’re going to score plenty of points I’m not worried about that. We’re going to score a ton. It’s just the little things like can we get stops to help you win games, especially in the last 6 minutes. Can we value the ball, can we be solid on defense? Can we make free throws when we’re fatigued? All those things we’re going to spend quite a bit of time working on those situational things making sure that we’re mentally and physically as prepared as possible coming down the last stretch of games.”

Last year the offense ran a lot of ball screens. With this team I think I remember you saying there will be more motion?
“Yeah, much more motion. We were like 78 percent ball screen oriented last year. This year will probably be more like 60 percent motion and 40 percent ball screen. We are still going to set some ball screens because ball screens are hard to guard. You get two on the ball and you are playing four on three elsewhere. We are going to change up what we do. I like the way our motions looked. Our spacing is the main thing. We have given our guys driving lanes. Last year we played with those two bigs quite a bit. Our guards were driving in and we were kind of defending ourselves with bigs sitting on the blocks and sitting at the basket. This year we have much more space for our guards to drive in. You just have to lay it in. I think it will be a good adjustment for us. We put a lot of time into it. I am hopeful it will work well.”

On what Aundre Hyatt and Courtese Cooper can bring to the table…
“(Aundre) Hyatt is hurt right now and probably won’t be back until the middle of October. Hyatt was really coming on, he played two really good games in Spain. He’s got size, he can shoot, and he can rebound. He’s almost a perfect hybrid guy for us. He can play guard and a small ball four spot. I was talking to our staff this morning and we may not have him ready for the first game, but we need to have him ready by Christmas to really be able to get him to play a role and help us. Courtese (Cooper) is a live body who brings some energy and can run for days. He’s a good athlete.”

On Darrius Days in the new offense…
“Well, it’s tailor made for him. I mean, that’s part of the reason we did it. It’s tailor made for him and really for Emmitt (Williams). I think (Darrius) Days is going have a breakout year. He’s playing so well for us right now. He’s playing with confidence, he’s shooting with confidence. Statistically, he was our best three-point shooter last year. He was also the top 10 in the country in offensive rebounding if he’d have had more minutes and more attempts but that’s my fault. You know I love offensive rebounding and I love shooting and he does two things very well that contribute to us winning. But the offense doesn’t work if you don’t have Darrius Days to make threes, if you don’t have Trendon Watford who can make threes, if you don’t have Emmitt Williams who can make threes because then we’ll have to guard you. You know, all those guys can make it and we’re going have five guys out there at any one time just about that can make a shot. So, when you do that they’re going come out and guard you and that opens the lane up, you just have to drive it in there and score it. I think it’s going be a huge benefit, especially to those three bigger guys, Emmitt (Williams), (Darrius) Days, and (Trendon) Watford. The offense is kind of made for those guys.”

On Marlon Taylor‘s recovery…
“Marlon’s doing well. He would’ve been cleared last week but he had a little dental issue that we’ve got to get taken care of (Tuesday)—kind of when it rains it pours—so we got to get that little dental issue taken care of with his wisdom teeth and he’ll be out a couple days and then he should be ready to go. He was going to be cleared for workouts and he’s been working out on his own. He had been cleared to do some team workout stuff last week but we didn’t want to start him and then have the dental work and then bring him back and mess his body up. So he is going to have some nice dental work done on Tuesday morning, and then we’ll go from there.”