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November 12, 2012LSU played without Johnny O'Bryant for most of its season-opening victory against UC Santa Barbara last Friday night.
O'Bryant get off to a spectacular start with 13 points and eight rebounds in just 11 minutes. At that time, with the Tigers holding a five-point advantage, O'Bryant strained a calf muscle and didn't return to the game.
Coach Johnny Jones said Tuesday that O'Bryant will not be in uniform Tuesday when LSU plays host to McNeese State at the PMAC.
"Johnny didn't practice Sunday," said Jones at his pre-practice press conference. "I think he is not going to be with us today at practice as well. It is tough to say if we will have him available Tuesday. I would say it's a long shot."
O'Bryant and Eddie Ludwig were the starting post players for the Tigers in their 77-63 victory against UC Santa Barbara. Shavon Coleman, who was recruited as a wing player, and Jalen Courtney, who played on the wing for coach Trent Johnson last season, got O'Bryant's minutes against the Gauchos.
"Because of our lack of size at the start of the season, if we had a concern it was in the post area," Jones said. "Not having an experienced player like Johnny is a concern.
"We knew that Shavon and Jalen would have to play extended minutes if Johnny got in foul trouble or had an injury. That's not something we scripted. The only way we can look at it is the guys who are available will get more minutes."
Coleman played 28 minutes against UC Santa Barbara and had six points, four rebounds, three steals, two blocked shots and two steals. In 12 minutes, Courtney accounted for two points and five rebounds. Ludwig had five points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. Coleman will start Tuesday.
"Shavon has guarded big guys like Johnny in practice," Jones said. "He is very capable defending from a one to a five, just not on a consistent basis. He is very elusive and he doesn't let big guys pin him inside. He usually can get a deflection on the ball.
"We thought Shavon would play some at the three because he's one of our better perimeter defenders. He has a good mid-range game and he can go to the rim. Now, he'll have to play in the post. We are looking forward to getting Johnny back. The other guys out there on scholarship have to get better."
Four players divided playing time on the two wings against the Gauchos. The starters - Charles Carmouche and Malik Morgan - each played 23 minutes. Shane Hammink and Andre Stringer came off the bench and logged 20 and 13 minutes, respectively.
"I would like to use all four like I did Friday," Jones said. "It helps to play all four when they are expending so much energy on offense and defense. They can stay fresh when we play at a certain pace. I like to have that rotation."
In the victory against UC Santa Barbara, the four wings combined for 45 points and 12 rebounds. All but Stringer scored at least ten points. All but Morgan made two 3-pointers. The four players were a combined 17-of-33 from the field.
Jones is hoping his team will continue to improve in its game against McNeese State.
"It was a good start to the season Friday," Jones said. "Obviously, the injury to Johnny was a concern. I enjoyed the way the guys responded to the injury. It was satisfying as well at practice Sunday. We made improvement from the exhibition game to the first real game on defense.
"I was disappointed in our lack of intensity on defense in the scrimmage and the exhibition game. We did a good job holding them to a low field goal percentage (37 percent). But, we gave up 40 rebounds, including 18 offensive. We can't do that night in and night out. We have to do a better job there."
McNeese won its season opener against Louisiana College. The Cowboys are coached by Dave Simmons, who was a high school teammate of Jones at DeRidder (La.).
"Dave was a senior when I was a freshman in high school," Jones said. "We grew up together and remain best of friends. He's the reason I wore No. 12.
"We never scheduled each other when I was at North Texas and he was at McNeese. We did not want to play each other. This game had already been set when I came to LSU. It will be an emotional time for both of us."
The fall signing period begins Wednesday. Jones anticipates the five commitments will sign this week - Deng Deng, Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey, John Odoh and Tim Quarterman. Deng and Odoh are junior college players. All are post players except for Quarterman, who is a point guard.
"I am hopeful all the guys out there will sign," Jones said. "We will finish with them this week unless something unforeseen happens."