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December 12, 2013
Tigers ready to return to court
There was some impatience in LSU coach Johnny Jones' voice when he addressed members of the media Wednesday afternoon.
It had been ten days since the Tigers wrapped up a successful three-game stint in the Old Spice Classic with an overtime victory against Butler. Jones and his players must wait another three days before they are back on the court - Saturday night against Louisiana-Monroe at the PMAC.
"It's been tough the last week or so," Jones said. "We've had this layoff during finals. You have to find adequate time for the players to concentrate and focus on their studies and then find time to practice."
Jones is hoping LSU can build upon its accomplishments in Orlando. The Tigers sandwiched victories against St. Joseph's and Butler around a close loss to Memphis. LSU certainly had an opportunity to defeat Memphis, but numerous turnovers led to a seven-point defeat.
"The guys did a tremendous job in the tournament in Orlando," Jones said. "That tournament served as a parameter for us and where we are. We played three challenging basketball teams in four games. It was a good experience."
LSU could have advanced to the tournament finals but its 24 turnovers led to 30-plus points for Memphis. For the season, LSU is averaging slightly more than 16 turnovers per game.
"There were not a lot of normal turnovers in the Memphis game," Jones said. "Of the 24 turnovers, there were six or seven because of offensive fouls. Johnny (O'Bryant) had ten turnovers and four were offensive fouls.
"Still we have to do a better job (reducing turnovers). With the way we play, we can have 11 of 12 turnovers per game. Hopefully, our execution will get better. I know the turnovers cost us the Memphis game."
Jarell Martin received his first extended playing time in the Old Spice Classic. Martin, who is recovering from a high ankle sprain, averaged 11.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He shot 55 percent from the field (12-of-22). Martin's ankle has continued to get healthier during the exam break.
"A high ankle sprain takes a while to heal," Jones said. "He was not full speed in the tournament. He is still not 100 percent. But, eventually he'll get back to 100 percent."
LSU has a unique schedule between now and the start of Southeastern Conference play against Tennessee on Jan. 7. The Tigers play four successive Saturdays at the PMAC - against UL-Monroe, UAB, McNeese State and Rhode Island. There is one midweek game - at Texas Tech next Wednesday.
Obviously, Jones has a lot of time for practice during the next four weeks. But, Jones would like to settle into a two-game per week schedule.
"The kids would rather be playing games," Jones said. "I'd love to get in that Wednesday-Saturday schedule where we can get sharper. You can't overwork the players.
"You have to look for time to pull back the reins. They have to be excited to play in the games. You give them some time off and then you hope they are energized in practice. That's what we've done during this layoff."
Louisiana-Monroe has won three of its four games with its lone defeat coming at Kansas. The Warhawks' best victory came in overtime at Northwestern State. UL-Monroe is scoring 79 points per game and shooting 52 percent from the field.