By: Michael Lanclos
Da Boot Sports!
The LSU Mens basketball team was cut short on the NCAA tournament bid thanks to the Covid pandemic. Most of the team's around the country were getting ready for the big stage, now everyone is ready and eager for a fresh start as the new season is set to begin unlike any other season. There was some valuable games scheduled that will change with some of the non-conference games. There are many things that the team needs to do to improve on along with some changes that will be noticed.
Coach Will Wade states: "I think part of having a good defense is having a some defense minded guys, Charles Manning Jr.is somebody who is coming back is also defensive minded. Jalen Cook may be the best on ball defender."
Coach Wade also mentioned how Junior Javonte Smart is getting better defensively, also sophomore Trendon Watford is improving on the way he talks and communicates on the basketball court. Junior Darius Days looks to be in great basketball shape and improved more on his defense. Also Sophomore Bryan Penn-Johnson is helping the team on the rim side on the game. Coach Wade feels that this year there is more defensive pieces that will improve the team.
The team should be able to do a better job of protecting the paint better than what they done in previous seasons. At the same time this should cause the team to be able to move and react which should be a plus when it comes to defense and also benefit to help the team to be able to score some points also.
"We got other guys that can come in, if you are not doing your job, if you miss two many assignments in a row, we chart missed assignments everyday in practice and not doing what you are suppose to do defensively then we got someone else that can come in and replace you and do just as good a job," stated by Coach Wade.
Coach Wade spoke about how competitive his squad and that the depth is better this year than what he has had before. Some of the guys are ahead of others while some of the guys are real close to being where they need to be. Trendon Watford has improved also on his leadership skills, talking a bit more, doing more things that leaders generally do. He expects this years club to be in the top 5 in offensive rebounding overall which will be huge for the team. The team should be faster along with transitioning to the ball better than in the past also. This years team shows they are a very versatility type of team also, this can cause opponents to have some trouble to guard.
With the type of team Coach Wade has it helps because they are prepared to compete with the various styles that they can show which can be difficult to play offense or defense against. Sophomore transfer Shareef O'Neal has shown a lot so far in practice and is awaiting to see if he can get the waiver that was sent in. He has shown that he's got a lot of abilities that will have an impact on the team. Th team seems to be more family oriented, close nit and enjoys being around one another.
This club has shown Coach Wade that they want to improve by asking questions, watching film and doing what it take to get corrected . There seems to be more quality among the guys, this is important because on the court quality points and minutes is valuably needed. Sophomore Aundre Hyatt is one player who has made huge improvements from the previous season and should be a difference maker this season. There is a lot of ways that the team has shown how they are very competitive against one another, this has made the team improve as a whole.
SEC play this season should possibly crank up in late December verses in January, that will be a change for all teams involved. Coach Wade is also preparing for the Covid testing that will be coming and being ready to play who is negative and hoping for the best like many of the other coaches around the league. Quarantining the guys who test positive will be something different and will be a task while the other guys are practicing or playing a game.
The team is poised to make a run and hoping to make post season play. There is good depth on the team which will help the team go further and the team will develop over the next few months. There are some experienced veterans returning and newcomers that are eager to show the Tiger nation what the team is capable of doing. The schedule this season should be ready in the next few days hopefully.
Photos By: LSUsports.net
Coach Wade excited about team's versatility.. "We can play multiple different styles and multiple different ways which we haven’t been able to do.”
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
The local media had an opportunity to speak with LSU Head Basketball Coach Will Wade on Tuesday morning. Coach Wade was excited to answer questions about his 2020-21 team. LSU Basketball will be here before we know... Below is part of the press conference.......
LSU Head Coach Will Wade Press Conference
“An update on the last seven months would probably take a lot longer than everyone wants to be on this call but we’re looking at moving forward. We’re excited to begin a new phase with the 20 hours a week on Wednesday. It’s something that we haven’t been able to do. We’re going to phase into it because we’re still not through with all our conditioning yet. We’re going to stick with the schedule that we’ve been on for the next couple weeks, then we’ll transition into more full-fledged practice. We’re going to (team) practice Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the next couple of weeks, do individual workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays then take the weekends off. We’re conditioning on Tuesdays and Thursdays with a little bit of conditioning on Friday. The following week will be our Boot Camp (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) and then we’ll practice every day after that. So, we’re going to take it slow as we get going. I like where our team is at and I like where it’s heading. We’re making a lot of athletic plays; the defense is a markedly better. We have a good philosophy defensively and I feel like we’re going to be much improved on the defensive end going forward. We have to continue get better and blend all the guys that we have.”
On the defensive philosophy…
“It’s a pretty big philosophical change. It’ll be very noticeable when we play. A little more aggressive in some areas and a little bit smarter in other areas with what we give up and what we are going to take away. I think our guys have done a good job so far of executing what we need to do. We have to clean some things up and get better in other areas, but there will be noticeable differences in what we do and how we do it. We have to continue to improve and fine tune what we’re doing. We’ve been able to build it over the last couple of weeks. We still have to add a couple new wrinkles and a couple of twists, but we have the base defense in but we just have to add to it and build on what we got.”
On if the roster moves have an impact on the defensive changes…
“Part of having a good defense is having some defensive minded guys. Charles Manning, a guy who’s coming back, is defensive minded. Wait until you see Mwani Wilkinson and Jalen Cook defend. Those are two very good, I don’t want to say elite yet, but very good defenders. Jalen Cook may be the best on-ball defender I’ve seen since we had Briante Weber at VCU. He’s the second all-time NCAA steals leader. Cook is as good as I’ve seen at hounding the ball and guarding the ball. When you watch Mwani Wilkinson for a full practice, he may make two or three mistakes the entire practice. It’s uncanny how sharp he is defensively. Our returners, Javonte Smart is getting better on that end, Trendon (Watford) is talking, communicating, and being a leader on that end. Darius Days is in great shape, he’s down to 238, so he’s been able to move and been good defensively. Bryan Penn-Johnson is helping us at the rim, so we’ve got some better defensive pieces. In the past, we haven’t had anything to hang our hat on defensively. Offensively if things don’t go well, we could get in the paint, get to the free-throw line, chuck it off the backboard, get offensive rebounds and find a way to dig out some points. Defensively, we haven’t had that. We’re going to really protect the paint and force you to shoot contested shots, stay between our man and the basket and give ourselves a better chance to defensive rebound. We got a little bit sturdier philosophy and we have some guys that are more interested than we have had in the past in guarding.”
On if Bryan Penn-Johnson is comparable to Kavell Bigby-Williams…
“No, Bryan Penn-Johnson is a totally different player. Their similar in that Bryan Penn-Johnson is 7’1 and Kavell Bigby-Williams was 6’11, they’re massive human beings. Bryan Penn-Johnson is very skilled offensively. He’s going to affect more shots than he blocks, Kavell Bigby-Williams was the opposite. (Penn-Johnson) a very cerebral player, very smart player. He understands our philosophy. He’s used to playing a match-up zone, he knows what he’s doing from his time at Washington. There’s very few that teach a zone better than Jim Boeheim and his tree and Coach Hopkins at Washington is part of that. Penn has an advanced understanding of what we’re doing which has helped him adjust quickly and know what he needs to do and help the other guys get in position.”
On the improved depth helping the defense…
“Yeah, we’re playing a lot harder defensively which is a big part of the equation. But we’ve got other guys that can come in. If you’re not doing your job, or you miss too many assignments in a row, then we’ve got somebody that can come in and replace you and do just as good of a job. We haven’t had that last year or two years ago, we only played eight guys. If we played today, I’ve got nine guys I could put in an SEC game and be comfortable with that. There’s another three or four of them on scholarship that, every other day you think you could play him, but they just haven’t showed that consistency yet. We have a roster of 13 guys that can all play. It makes practice competitive. Skylar Mays came to practice last week and after practice he said, ‘Coach, you have five people above the rim on every shot.’ Sometimes it takes some perspective from someone else to see the difference in our depth and athleticism.”
On what Trendon Watford has improved from last season…
“Trendon has done a phenomenal job. I’d say the first thing is leadership. He’s more vocal, he’s leading, he’s talking to guys, he’s very competitive on the court. He’s also able to bring guys together off the court. He’s playing a lot more physical whether it be posting guys up, rebounding and hitting people. Those are areas that I’m excited about, but where most fans and others will be more excited about is that he’s shooting the ball really well. He has the capability to be 38 percent or 40 percent from three. If he does that, it opens up the driving lane and it gives him opportunity and space to drive it. His leadership, his physicality and his ability to shoot the ball are all three big areas where he’s made some strides. Give him credit, took the feedback from the process (the NBA scouts) and he’s attacked that feedback day after day. That’s not easy to do.”
“Offensively, we’ve got some good parts. We just have to make sure we value the ball and get a shot on the basket. I think we are going to be an elite offensive rebounding team … We’ve got good pieces. We are going to play a little bit faster trying to get to our spots quicker. We’ve got a great point guard with Javonte, a tremendous scorer with Cam Thomas. We’ve got Days, Watford. We can play big, we can play small. There are a lot of different ways we can play. We have a lot of versatility which will make us difficult to guard. Offensively and defensively we have one way to play when we go big. We have another way to play when we go small. We can play multiple different styles and multiple different ways which we haven’t been able to do.”