As the 2011-12 season opener creeps closer, the LSU men's basketball team is rounding into shape, coach Trent Johnson said Wednesday.
The Tigers hosted Rice for a scrimmage last week and fared well. Johnson spoke about the organized session and where his team is headed with the season opener looming Nov. 12 against Nicholls State.
"We're showing the capabilities of having a better assist-to-turnover ratio," Johnson said. "Our rebound differential hasn't been where it needs to be, but again it's been interesting because no one has separated themselves from an individual standpoint which I like. Our assists to turnovers are good."
Much of Johnson's focus has been on freshmen Johnny O'Bryant, John Isaac and Anthony Hickey. All three are expected to play right away and the Tigers need contributions from each.
"I'm looking at combinations with the freshmen mainly because I'm trying to put them in a many situations where they haven't been in where I can find out where they can play for extended periods of time," Johnson said. "I can find out what kind of decisions they're going to make when things are tough and in the balance. I can find out how they're going to react when they're not on the floor and think they should be on the floor."
There is still plenty of teaching to do in the next 10 days, Johnson said, and he thinks the next few days of the pre-season grind will be an important barometer.
"We practice long, and we practice hard," Johnson said. "We've been going at it pretty good here. These next two days, they're going to be really pushed unlike they have been in the past. They are focused and concentrated on what we've been trying to teach and push through.
"That's what we need to find out from those three (freshmen). The veteran players understand playing through fatigue."
Positive signs from the scrimmage included LSU rallying back from a halftime deficit. That was a problem last season, as was holding onto leads late.
In the 50-minute scrimmage with Rice, Johnson wanted to see certain things from his reconfigured team.
"My whole goal was to run only certain plays and see how the players handled them," he said. "This team will be very interesting when we play a very good team, because we will be able to see where their confidence level is. They're gradually getting more confident in their own ways."
Mini ticket plans
Two mini-ticket plans will go on sale to the general public at 8 a.m. Thursday at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office and online at LSUtix.net.
Included in one of the packages is the only way at this time, other than season tickets, to buy a guaranteed seat ticket to the Jan. 28 game at the PMAC against Kentucky.
The plans are named the "Pick 3" and the "Pick 5" and offer two different options.
--- The "Pick 3" plan allows a fan to choose one ticket to any three home games other than the season opener Nov. 12 against Nicholls State (which has free admission) and the Jan. 28 Kentucky game for $39.
--- The "Pick 5" plan allows fans their choice of any of the available home games, including Kentucky and the other seven SEC home games, for $75.
Season tickets are on sale and individual game tickets for the non-conference home games go on sale on Nov. 14. The non-SEC home games are South Alabama (Nov. 23), Boise State (Dec. 10), UC-Irvine (Dec. 15), Marquette (Dec. 19), Grambling State (Dec. 29) and Virginia (Jan. 2).
The season opens at noon on Nov. 12 against Nicholls State as the opening half of a basketball-football doubleheader. Admission for the Tigers-Colonels game is free to the general public and transportation and shuttle information for basketball fans will be available on LSUsports.net this weekend.
New Dale Brown book unveiled
The unveiling and release of the new book, "Getting Over the 4 Hurdles of Life," by former Tigers' coach Dale Brown will be held from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Lod Cook Conference Center on campus.
Brown's new book is a 160-page hardcover book that shows ways to get past the hurdles that block our path to success, happiness and peace of mind.
LSU men make progress vs. Rice in scrimmage
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