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November 11, 2013
Similar opponent for Tigers in opener
The expectations for Massachusetts basketball this season are pretty high.
The Minutemen won 21 games last season and reached the NIT. Massachusetts is bringing back three senior starters along with one part-time starter and a transfer from Western Kentucky. The Minutemen opened the season with an 86-73 victory against Boston College on Sunday.
This UMass squad is the season-opening opponent for a LSU team, which is also hoping to reach the NCAA tournament. The Tigers won 19 games a year ago and return three starters. So, the matchup Tuesday morning will be between two very similar teams.
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"After a scrimmage and an exhibition game, our team had the opportunity to improve," said LSU coach Johnny Jones at a Monday morning press conference prior to his team's departure for Amherst. "Right out of the gate, we have a tough basketball team in UMass.
"They get great contributions from their point guard and center. It is very clear those two guys are the leaders of the team. Their point guard is special. He can score and create opportunities. We have to pay attention to him. Their center has a low block presence. He shoots a high percentage down there."
The Massachusetts point guard is senior Chaz Williams, who had 20 points and four assists against Boston College. He made all five of his 3-point shots. The center is Cady Lalanne, who started 15 games last season. He had 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks against Boston College.
Lalanne is 6-foot-10, while the two starting forwards for the Minutemen are 6-8 Sampson Carter and 6-9 Raphiael Putney. Jones wouldn't verify his lineup, but one would expect he would go with a similar size one with 6-9 Johnny O'Bryant at center and 6-8 Jordan Mickey and 6-9 Jarell Martin at the forwards.
"The good thing for us is we have Johnny as our center," Jones said. "As the game progresses, we can give different looks with guys in side. We can roll Johnny out to the 'four' and use (John) Odo and (Darcy) Malone at the 'five.'
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Martin had somewhat of a slow start while playing mostly at the small forward position against Xavier (N.O.) in the exhibition game. He finished with 11 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes. Martin played about nine minutes in the post.
"Jarell missed a couple of shots, but I thought he played real well on the wing," Jones said. "He finished on a fast break at the rim and he hit a jumper off the fast break. I thought he defended good. He picked things up pretty well as he goes from the perimeter to inside."
Jones wouldn't say whether Tim Quarterman or Anthony Hickey would start at point guard. He simply said that both will see time against Williams. Jones did reveal that Shavon Coleman is healthy and will play Tuesday.
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"Both point guards will have to see quality minutes," Jones said. "There will be some type of rotation at point guard. We'll do it by committee. Shavon is ready to go. He is at full speed."
Following Tuesday's game, LSU will have a three-game homestand. The first opponent will be Northwestern State on Friday night at the PMAC.