Tigers Host New Orleans In Tuesday Night Basketball Game

by Kent Lowe | Sr. Assoc. Communications Director
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Tigers Host New Orleans In Tuesday Night Basketball Game

BATON ROUGE – The LSU Tigers steps into Louisiana competition for the first of two games as Southland Conference preseason favorite New Orleans comes to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Tuesday night.

The Tigers and Privateers will tip off at 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on the SEC Network with Tom Hart and Andy Kennedy on the call. The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network with Chris Blair, the Voice of the Tigers, and former LSU Coach John Brady (Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge the Guaranty Media flagship).

Tickets for the game are available throughout the day on Tuesday at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at LSUTix.net. Ticket sales on game night will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the upper concourse ticket windows. LSU students are admitted free with valid student ID and the first 500 students will receive free Papa John’s Pizza.

The Tigers are 5-2 coming into the game, winners of two straight and 4-0 at home this season. LSU defeated Missouri State, 73-58, on Friday with Darius Days getting 20 points and 10 rebounds for his third double double of the season. Emmitt Williams added 14 points and Trendon Watford and Skylar Mays had 12 points each. Javonte Smart had nine assists and just one turnover as LSU turned the ball over a season low seven times.

LSU also shot over 50 percent from the floor for the second straight game and made 24-of-34 shots inside the arc.

The Privateers are 3-4 after back-to-back wins over Eureka (125-60) on Friday and Xavier of New Orleans (79-62) on Saturday at Lakefront Arena. Four Privateers are averaging in double figures with Bryson Robinson averaging 14.1 points, Troy Green 12.0, Damion Rosser 11.3 and Gerrale Gates 10.1 a game. 

Days of LSU and Robinson of New Orleans have been in double figure scoring in each of their team’s respective games. 

LSU will also host Northwestern State at 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Maravich Center. 

Coach Wade met with the media earlier on Monday and here are some of his comments:

 On Marlon Taylor’s Injury
“He’s progressing well, he out of his boot.  He’s started to do some conditioning so we’re hopeful that we can have him back after the New Orleans and Northwestern State games.  Hopefully we will be able to play him in the East Tennessee game to get him some minutes.  He’s progressing well and we feel very good about his progress.  His foot is reacting a lot better to this surgery than the last one.”

On Darius Days ability this year to stay out of foul trouble … 
“He’s just playing a lot smarter; he’s such a smart and good player.  I tell him all of the time that we got to have you on the court.  He’s really cut out some of the needless fouls; I don’t mind some of the fouls when he’s being aggressive and going for the ball. His fourth foul the other night was a bad foul. We missed the corner three, the other team grabbed the rebound and (Darius) Days flies in there, tries to take the ball away, and picks up his fourth foul.  We really talked about using your fouls wisely, you got five of them to use.  I have no problem with using all five but use them wisely.  Let’s pick up fouls around the basket trying to pick up charges, or shielding, doing those sorts of things.  Let’s not reach and pick up some of the unnecessary fouls.   We studied that with him in the offseason, we’ve constantly spoken to him about and watched film of his fouls.  We have made him aware and hopefully in the game he’s thinking ‘this is where I can pick my spot and be aggressive’ or ‘this is the time where I need to lay back.’  At this point we really need him on the court; he has the best plus-minus on the team, when he’s on the court the scoreboard moves in a good direction for the Tigers.  We really need him out there for long periods of time so him being able to sustain this and playing without fouling is huge for him and our team.”

On playing the University of New Orleans …
“I have known (Mark Slessinger) for a long time since he was a coach at Northwestern State.  I know a couple of their assistants, I’ve known coach (Jody) Bailey since he was at Colorado and coach (Jay) Smith for a long time as well.  This was a game that obviously makes sense to play.  When you play these types of games it makes sense to keep everything in state if possible.  Next year we are going to play in Shreveport, so I think it is important for us to get around the state.  I’m looking at our next voyage which will probably be at Lake Charles and then maybe over to New Orleans.  We do want to get around the state because we have fans all over the state and it can be difficult for them to get here for basketball especially during the week.  It’s not like football where games are going to be on Saturday, and you can come in on Friday.  It’s important for us to move around the state, that’s why we went to Louisiana Tech to help out up there but to also get the Monroe area.  We are going to go to Shreveport next year and eventually work our way to the corners of the state, I think that’s important for the program. New Orleans, Tulane, we are certainly looking to play when we go to New Orleans.”  

On the offense’s development …
“For the most part over the last couple of games we have taken much better threes.  We are really good with transition threes, and paint touch threes but the problem is the all of the rest of them. Our team is well aware of how I feel about our shots, we went through that very clearly yesterday.  I think we will be taking better shots, but I think if we would shoot the really good ones, we can become more efficient.”

On avoiding being upset like some of the other upsets around the country … 
“I don’t like to talk to our guys about what other teams are going through.  I think that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy if we are saying this is a trap game.  You are either prepared or you are not, lets prepare and do what we do.  You do have to be cognizant of the national landscape.  McNeese played a very tight game at Texas and had a three on the rim at the end of the game, but the kid missed it.  Obviously, Stephen F. Austin played tremendously at Duke and Nicholls has played well.  You have to be cognizant, but you don’t want to put that in your guys’ minds. We have to continue to get better; New Orleans plays extremely hard, as hard as anyone we have played in terms of how they get after it.  It’s about us, can we play as hard, can we be as tough, can we be as scrappy as they are.  If we can take care of those things, then we will be fine.”

On allowing 15 offensive rebounds against Missouri State … 
“They went to the tournament in Charleston with Florida, UConn, and Miami and they were the best rebounding team at the tournament.  They are a really good rebounding team, in one of the games number 30 had 17 rebounds in Charleston.  They pin their ears back, but do we need to be more physical? Yes.  Our issue on Friday night was our guards because they didn’t help us at all.  Our guards got back to standing and watching as opposed to cracking down and helping us on the weak side.  We have to get that straightened out and hopefully it’s just a little fix.  I think we will get it corrected.”  

On upsets in college basketball…
“You mentioned Kentucky, but a lot of us are relying on young players. Anytime you have young players, you are going against veteran players and veteran teams that have a system. It is very difficult. It takes you some time to hit your stride. Kentucky is going to hit their stride at some point this season. We are playing better. We played better the other night than we have played, and we are going to continue to get better. We haven’t hit our stride yet because we are playing younger players. We are starting Trendon (Watford) and Charles Manning Jr. (playing) a lot of minutes. This is a major difference. James Bishop had some good moments for us, and he is going to have some big moments for us this year. It takes some time. You look at (Darius) Days, he is just a sophomore and even he played 15 minutes a game last year. Emmitt (Williams) is adjusting to a new role, Javonte (Smart) is adjusting to a brand-new role. Skylar (Mays’) role is different. He was kind of the second in command and now you’re the lead dog. It is a little bit different. There is so much more turnover with the high majors with the rosters. It just takes you a little longer to figure things out. I think the last week, I figured out a lot about our team. I think I have the way we need to play. We are going to have to play a little more zone than we have played in the past, which I am not a huge zone guy. That is what works for our group. Our zone numbers are tremendous. I think when you are playing older, veteran teams, it opens you up for the possibility of getting upset. Sometimes you need that to grow and get better as a group.”

On Javonte Smart’s new role…
“I thought he was much more steady the last couple of games. Obviously, nine assists and one turnover on Friday night against Missouri State, which is a good team. Missouri State is going to win a lot of games. They are picked to win their league, they are going to win a lot of games. I think Javonte is just settling in. It is different. I was telling someone the other day, ‘People forget Tremont (Waters) was averaging over five turnovers a game at the beginning of the season last year.’ We went to Las Vegas and he started playing a lot better. It takes some time. Tremont was a phenomenal player. The freshman moves into a different team as a sophomore and he was struggling. We didn’t have any turnover problems the rest of the year after that. I think a lot of it is just the acclimation and learning how to play with your new teammates. I was telling our stuff, just looking at our turnover problems early in the season, we probably don’t play enough pick-up in the summer. We do so much where we are doing individual skill instruction, we don’t play enough pick-up. We need to play more together and play more pick-up. There’s some things we probably need to adjust with our offseason program to help with all this. I think we will be fine. I think Javonte is a great player, he is a talented player. He is going to be a leader and a great player for us all season. It is just taking some time.”

On Smart’s transition to being the primary ball handler…
“It is a huge transition. It would be like being the wildcat quarterback to moving to play quarterback every down. You have a specialty package in for you, which he did. We played him at point guard some last year. Even the games we played him at point guard, we had a quick turn. We had a package of like seven to eight plays that he was going to run at point guard. It worked for a couple of games because people didn’t have time to adjust. Now he has our whole playbook. You have to know where everybody is supposed to be. I tell him all the time it is like conducting an orchestra. You’re not conducting a rock band, you have to have a little rhythm, a little poise. He has done a good job and it is a big time adjustment. That is part of the reason as a staff and myself, we have been patient. We understand it is an adjustment. I think everybody thinks everything is going to happen overnight. It’s been different, but he’s settled in. These last two games he has played really well. He has 15 assists and five turnovers the last two games. That’s a three to one assist-turnover ratio. I think he is going to be able to deliver a three to one ratio the rest of the season for us.”

On figuring out the team’s identity…
“We are still waiting to get Marlon (Taylor) back. We won’t know until we get Marlon back. We miss him. He brings an athleticism, he brings a defensive mindset, he brings a little toughness to us. We miss him. We need him to win. There’s a reason we put him in the starting lineup last year and there’s a reason we won a ton of games when he was in. We are 21-3 when we put him in the starting lineup. He effects winning because there’s just certain plays that he’s the only guy that can make them. It is going to take us a little while because we have to get him back. It is not like when we throw him out there against East Tennessee State, he is going to play 30 minutes. We have to get him in shape, we have to get him ready. He is going to be on a minutes restriction I would assume early on. I haven’t talked to the doctors about that. It may be a couple games into SEC play before we have our whole rotation and all of our guys ready to go. That’s part of it. I always try to look at the bright side of things. We haven’t had Marlon, but it has allowed us play Andre Hyatt some and I know he hasn’t made shots. He has done a lot of other really good things. Our rebounding numbers are much better when he is on the court. He is really good in the zone; he is as good as we have in the zone. Once he gets in the middle of the zone, he can dime people up and he makes great plays. Hopefully by not having Marlon, we have been able to develop more depth with some of these other guys, so when he comes back, we have more relief and more work under our belt with some of these other guys.”