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October 9, 2013LSU has been practicing basketball for just one week, but that amount of time is enough to confirm coach Johnny Jones' preseason thoughts.
The Tigers will have enough depth to deal with the elite teams in the Southeastern Conference. A year ago, the better teams in the SEC overpowered LSU in strength and numbers. Jones doesn't foresee that scenario this season.
"We are going to make the people we play uncomfortable because of our depth and the number of guys we can put on the floor," said Jones at his Tipoff Luncheon on Tuesday afternoon. "Practice is off to a great start. I am enjoying having the number of guys in practice right now."
There are 14 players at practice, which include ineligible transfer Keith Hornsby and two walk-ons. Freshman Brian Bridgewater is in school, but is not eligible to practice. Four other freshmen - Jarell Martin, Jordan Mickey, Darcy Malone and Tim Quarterman - are showing that they will contribute now.
"We have four great freshmen in this group if they continue to progress as they have in practice," Jones said. "Jarell Martin is just as advertised. He runs the floor well for someone his size. Jordan Mickey is a tremendous shot blocker.
"Darcy Malone has been a pleasant surprise for us. I didn't realize how quick he would pick up the speed of the game. He shoots well and mixes it up inside. Tim Quarterman is lengthy and rangy. He has great feet so he can stay in front of you. He is a tremendous floor leader."
Mickey, Martin and Malone are all working in the post. However, Jones said that both Martin and Malone are capable of knocking down perimeter shots. Quarterman is also spending time at a wing spot besides backing up Anthony Hickey at point guard.
Tigers basketball supporters are excited by the four freshman newcomers as well as junior college transfer John Odo. But, Jones made it quite clear who are the most important players on this squad.
"How good we are this season depends upon our seasoned vets," Jones said. "Johnny O'Bryant had a great offseason. He has been relentless since day one in practice.
"Johnny is not going backwards. He could have the type of year where he's Player of the Year in the conference. We'll shoot the ball better at the four this year with Martin and Mickey. That will open things up for Johnny."
O'Bryant is working together with Martin right now in the post with Mickey the top reserve. Odo and Malone are paired together on the second unit at the positions. Hickey, Andre Stringer and Shavon Coleman are the three veterans who are working at the perimeter positions.
"Hickey is extremely quick and a tough defender, especially on the ball," Jones said. "He is not afraid to take big shots. He and Quarterman are really going after it in practice."
"The guy who really stepped up is Andre Stringer. He has such a big heart. Shavon had to play the four last year. This year he can play on the perimeter. Malik Morgan is off to a great start in practice, so he is competing for a starting spot."
LSU will play Xavier (New Orleans) in an exhibition game at the PMAC on Nov. 6. The Tigers' will open the season at Massachusetts on Nov. 12.