Coach Smith Meets with the Media

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(On his returning players) "We return three starters who played down the stretch for us. For the first time since we've been here, we feel like we have more upperclassmen than we have underclassmen. We are excited about how our season ended, with the Sweet 16 appearance, and hopefully our players will carry that in to this season. We like the mindset of our team right now."

(On life without Freije) "Matt Freije was a guy for four years we could go to get a basket. Mario Moore became a guy that was basket producers. Mario is a guy that played very well in the SEC and NCAA Tournament and has the quickness you want in our league. There will be a point vacuum, and I don't think we have one guy who could fill those shoes. Matt was a guy that got most of the credit, and he deserved."

(On the freshman class) "We are excited about this class, and we look for one or two to have an immediate impact for us."

(On recruiting changes) "It hasn't really changed much for us. At this point, we haven't been able to recruit anyone that could go straight from high school to the NBA. The NBA draft is becoming more about potential than being productive. Those things haven't affected our approach. We are looking for guys that can do it on the court and in the classroom."


(On his returning players) "Well, we have a few players back, and most contributed in different proportions throughout the course of last season. Carlos Powell is probably our most notable player returning. We have challenged Carlos this summer to become the best player he can. He has had three good seasons, but hasn't played up to the level of consistency that I feel he can."

(On looking to fill void) "Well I think that's the biggest issue facing this team. Who are our leaders? Can they face the pressure of another season in the Southeastern Conference? I don't know. Carlos Powell is a guy you could look to early, and hope he could do it. I think John Chappell he does have a way about him that is magnetic. He could give us some leadership. When you look at leadership, you always look at your point guard."

(On this season) "I am holding this team to a different standard. Everybody's got to step up if we are going to be a better basketball program."


(On his returning players) "First of all, there is air of good feeling in regards to the possible changes that could take place in our game. Going into this season, we really feel this is the first year we have a full roster. Having size and returning players that were key for us. We are excited about our recruiting class, we added three players of significant size. We felt like we addressed our needs with recruiting. We are really working hard to prove ourselves this summer and get ready for the season."

(on Al Jefferson) "I think recruiting has gotten to the point where it is so tough to gauge. As a coach, we had the flexibility to take a chance on a student-athlete. When you have flexibility, you can take a chance on a Carmelo Anthony for one year."

(5th year of eligibility) "It's an intriguing topic and possible rule change. In a lot of ways, it seems like a rule a coach would like to avoid. But if your goal is to graduate, (the rule) makes sense. It is something I think we should explore and look all the way through. If this rule does pass, I think you will see more parody."


(On his returning players) "Well, in terms of scholarship players we only have three players returning."

(On top returning team in the SEC) "I really haven't spent any time thinking about the other teams yet, because we have so much work to do ourselves with our team and our program. The best roster of talent, including their recruiting classes, I would say Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State and Alabama. Those are teams that strike me and seem to have the strongest teams returning."

(On Fifth-year Proposal) "Well not only do I favor it, but I believe that if you asked every coach in the country, they would believe it. We are all in agreement on that, for all the right reasons. Without a doubt, giving them a fifth-year of participation would help them to graduate. The think the fifth year is a win/win situation. I am 100 percent in support of it, and I think it's a wonderful idea."


(On his returning players) "Well, I think we have all our team back except for Jaime Lloreda. We are still going to be a young team, but a young experienced team. We feel like we are going to have a good basketball team, a talented team and we are excited about it and looking forward to the season."

(on Brandon Bass) "I think it becomes year to year. This year with eight high school players drafted in the 1st round, it sends the message that maybe going to college isn't a good idea. It depends. Each case is individual too. I think in Brandon's case he made the right decision, and we are happy he is coming back to LSU."

(On the combination of Glen Davis and Brandon Bass) "They both think they are perimeter players. I think they will be a good combination, but we'll see. Glen Davis has all the tools to be an outstanding player than our league. I am excited of the potential of that combination. Also, you have to see the camaraderie and unselfish play that him and Brandon will have with one another. If they do that, they can be as good as anyone in the league."


(On his returning players) "We are excited about the veteran players we have returning. We know it will take some time to replace five seniors. That's the equivalent of losing 20 years of experience. We have a good nucleus, and I think that will help us."

(On the growth of Azubuike) "I think he is very capable of doing that. Now he is going to have to be a veteran backcourt player, he is going to have to take a bigger load and be more accountable. He can jump over people and he is working hard on his ball handling and passing. He has done a good job with that. Last year, he also became a defensive stopper for us."

(On how to deal with transfers) "Every situation is different. The first thing you have to address is why does the player want to leave. Sometimes they see opportunity, and the grass may seem greener on the other side. While being recruited, they want to know about how much playing time they can earn. That's the primary reason they leave, is playing time."


(On his returning players) "We are excited about this year's bunch. We got everybody back. We are bringing back 90 percent of our scoring and rebounding. We are hoping that CJ can give our team great leadership on and off the floor."

(On 5th year eligibility) "I like this. Right now the average student takes 4.8 years to graduate, so that 5th year would be very beneficial. I like the five years, and I hope it is something they pass. I think it would be very helpful for men's basketball."


(On his returning players) "We have three pretty good players coming back. We have two on the perimeter with Roberson and Walsh, who both played different positions then they did their freshman years. On the interior, we have David Lee who will now be a senior. We feel like those guys played pretty well for us."

(On Lee Humphrey) "The biggest thing for Lee is that last year he had low expectations. When Drier left, I thought he had an exceptional season and played very well. I do expect Lee to have more expectations on himself after going through a year and starting for us a little bit. He has to try to become a great player."

(On relying on freshman to produce) "It's virtually impossible when you are going against teams with a lot of depth. We have been able to raise our expectations. It's very difficult in this league, when you look at Miss State and Kentucky, they all have upperclassmen. It's a difficult challenge."


(On his returning players) "Our team has four guys that have some experience. Outside of those guys, there isn't a lot of experience. We will have seven total freshmen, and we got some work to do with those guys. On paper, it looks like we have a lot of experience, but outside those four we have none. We are going to be a lot different than last year's team."

(On toughness of playing in Coleman Coliseum) "I think we have tried to get our students involved. They have created a great atmosphere. We practice in our gym everyday, and I think that helps us."

(On Kennedy Winston) "I wasn't surprised he came back. To be honest, he has not been able to jog or run for two months. He is behind because of that, and that is a concern for us. He had a heck of a year."

(On point guard situation) "Antoine's shoes are big to fill. He did a great job for us. We also had the luxury of his backup also being a senior. This year, we signed three freshman guards, and they will battle out for that position. That's the biggest thing when you look at our team, how quickly they can be ready to play and play at a high level."


(On his returning players) "We have an interesting group, from a standpoint that I have all seniors and all freshmen. We will rely on those five guys a bunch."

(On backcourt situation) "I haven't had a chance to really see Tony play a whole lot, other than film. He can score the basketball, and I don't know that he played a lot of point guard in high school. We are going to be a small team, so we will play a lot of guards. When you play for me, we ask a lot out of a point guard, I call it the quarterback position."

(On lack of size) "The biggest guy we have is a freshman who is 6-10. We are going to have to spread the floor and use the 3-point line. I think back to when Pitino was at Kentucky, he used the 3-point line to even things out, and he had a good year."


(On his returning players) "We have a lot of players returning, and kids that played a lot.

We feel like we have a lot of upperclassmen and we hope that will help us out this season."

(On the newcomers) "We are excited about them. We feel like those guys can come in and help out."

(On loss of offense) "First of all, we are going to have a better defensive team and turn some turnovers into points. We have to play more up tempo, and try to get some easy baskets."


(On his returning players) "I am a lot better off from the standpoint that I have more to deal with than last year at this time. I return three starters and lost two valuable players. We have to get some young kids to step up and give us some help."

(On freshman class) "It's a tough question right now until practice. Most freshmen it's very tough to win championships, and that's our goal every year. I think we have to be able to get different types of roles from them."

(On relationship with AD) "Larry is great for me to work with. I am going into my 15th year, and he has been here 16 years. We have a great working relationship and I think it's obvious Larry has a done a great job at Mississippi State. Larry has been terrific."

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