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November 5, 2013

Freshmen could dominate LSU hoops starting lineup

LSU's basketball team will be on public display for the first time Wednesday night when Xavier of New Orleans comes to the PMAC for a 7 p.m. exhibition game.

At his pre-practice press conference Tuesday, Tigers coach Johnny Jones only identified two starters for the exhibition game against Xavier, ranked No. 19 in the country among NAIA schools. But, Jones definitely hinted that at least three freshmen could be in the starting lineup Wednesday.

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The two definite starters are junior Johnny O'Bryant at center and freshman Tim Quarterman at point guard. One would suspect that senior Andre Stringer will start at one of the two wing spots. Don't be surprised if freshmen Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey round out the starting lineup.

"Tim has done a tremendous job," Jones said. "He is not just a 6-6 point guard. He is a distributor and can defend the perimeter. There are some things we had to deal with Anthony (Hickey) early on, but he will part of an early rotation.

"I am more important in the rotation and the chemistry for the team than the starters. Of course, it is important to get off to a good start in games."

Hickey has been the starting point guard for most of the past two seasons. Hickey did miss some playing time at the start of last season due to some off-the-court matters. Hickey and Shavon Coleman, who also started most of the time last year, could provide energy off the bench.

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Coleman may not play in the exhibition Wednesday due to an undisclosed injury. Jones said that Coleman is "not at full speed and will probably be held out of practice (Tuesday)."

If Coleman cannot play Wednesday, his absence may open up spots in the starting lineup for both Martin and Mickey. Martin is versatile enough to play a wing position with Mickey joining O'Bryant in the post.

"We have looked at that lineup in practice," Jones said. "All three of them (Martin, Mickey and O'Bryant) are good passers. At times, they have really executed well together."

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Jones needs to work on a variety of lineups in the game against Xavier. LSU will open its season next Tuesday at Massachusetts. Slightly more than two weeks later, the Tigers will play in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando where nationally-ranked Memphis and Oklahoma State are possible opponents.

"We are trying to work on our rotation for the early part of the season," Jones said. "I am looking for eight or nine guys. We are going to take a good strong look at guys in different positions. The returning players see the talent level on the team. Everybody is fighting to get some quality minutes on the floor.

"Our guys are excited about getting started. After being off Sunday, we had one of our more energetic practices Monday. That's not usually the case after a day off."


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