Jones talks 2013-14 schedule, impact freshmen

In the aftermath of LSU basketball's schedule release, TSD's Ben Love caught up with Tiger head coach Johnny Jones for a Q&A. Jones touched on challenging his team before SEC play, how Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey fit in and the staff's approach to recruiting the 2014 class.

Ben Love: On the topic of scheduling, what does getting that UMass game to start the year on national television mean to the program and the exposure it can give you?

Johnny Jones: It's exciting anytime you can be on a national stage. I think it's great for our players to have an opportunity to open the season, and for our fan base to watch us open the season, as we were selected to be part of a select group to play in that (ESPN) marathon. It's exciting for us, and it's a very challenging game that our players are going to look forward to.

BL: You play at Texas Tech and will host Rhode Island this season. Is there anybody else out of conference on the schedule that grabs your attention?

JJ: All of them, I think, will be good games and challenging games, especially with the tournament we're in with the Old Spice Classic. I think that's going to be a great test for our guys, the game we'll have there with St. Joseph's and then whoever else we meet there. It will be a great opportunity for us in the early part of the season prior to conference play to kinda see where we are.

BL: With UMass and Texas Tech expected to make the return trip next year, what does it mean to start bringing quality opponents into the PMAC? Is that something you think helps energize the fan base?

JJ: I think first of all we want to make sure we put a product out there on the floor that our fans are excited about, and they're coming to see LSU. Our opponents then really become secondary because it's always challenging. It is always nice before conference play to get another or some more BCS-caliber schools in here, like a Texas Tech. But we want to get to the point where when we open those doors, regardless of the opponent, because of our kids' play and what's expected of them, the fans show up to cheer them on.

BL: How can this team play differently with all the newcomers?

JJ: To start it gives us more combinations because we're going to be bigger, stronger in some areas and deeper. It will allow us to probably play at a certain pace for longer periods of time, and defensively it will give us some more opportunities to do some things which will be really good for our team because of our added length, strength and quickness.

BL: What do you think Jarell Martin's role will be on this team?

JJ: Jarell's a special player. We'll look to put him in a lot of different situations inside and outside on the offensive end, which I think will take advantage of a lot of his skills and his abilities. Even on the defensive end, he has the ability to play on the perimeter or inside as well. So I think there's a combination of things we'll be able to do with him because of his versatility.

BL: The same question for Jordan Mickey – Is it possible to really pigeonhole him at a position?

JJ: He's more of a four for us. He has tremendous length, and he's a quick jumper with long arms. Jordan also has the ability to pick-and-pop well from outside. But he can guard on the perimeter if we need him there in a pinch, so he's one of those guys that gives us some versatility – probably just not as much as Jarell right now.

Publisher's Notes: Premium subscribers to TSD can view the three links below, all of which contain additional notes and information on LSU basketball. The first link will take you to Jones' comments on how the Tigers will approach recruiting for the 2014 class. The second will bring you to a full story by TSD staff writer Matt McCurdy on which three walk-ons will join LSU's team this season. Finally, the third link will bring you to an ongoing discussion about the Tigers' 2013-14 schedule, which was released on Tuesday.

Jones touches on recruiting needs for 2014 class

Trio of walk-ons finalizes LSU roster in 2013-14

LSU releases full 2013-14 basketball schedule

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