COLLEGE STATION, Texas - TSD caught up with LSU guard Keith Hornsby earlier this week to take the Tigers' temperature following a rough run at the Paradise Jam and to see how they're moving forward with a brutal stretch coming next week - versus Massachusetts, at West Virginia.
Here is my Q&A with Hornsby, in which the junior transfer discusses playing big minutes and the resulting wear and tear as well as what's ailing LSU currently.
Keith Hornsby: Well, to tell you the truth, we haven’t really been able to get in the gym since getting back, so that all kind of remains to be seen. Obviously Coach [Johnny] Jones is staying really positive and so are we. We realize that we have a lot of stuff to work on. We have three practices before the next game, and we really need to focus on those areas.
BL: As a guy who’s taken on the mantle of team leader, how do you make sure those messages get across? Sometimes a coaching staff can do only so much, how do you make sure those things translate to the floor?
KH: The only way you can do it is by leading by example. You can also be vocal, but in this situation there’s so much stuff we have to work on, you just have to show it on the floor. If we do it, then the other guys will do it and hopefully we can correct some of our issues.
BL: What do you think some of the big-picture items are that are most pressing to improve?
KH: Honestly, this is kind of a hard question. I’ve had some time to think about it, and it’s hard to really define because we played really hard down there. I think it’s just some defensive things and little things, like offensive execution and not taking quick shots without fully going through the plays. We have to get a good look at each option that becomes available to us. That’s stuff that I think is just a mindset. With more practice we’ll get better at that.
BL: What do you think about the depth so far on the perimeter? Tim Quarterman is obviously playing big minutes off the bench, but is the team developing some other guys, like Jalyn Patterson, to play important minutes at guard?
KH: Me, Tim and Josh [Gray] average a whole lot of minutes. I think I averaged like 37 minutes, or something like that, over the tournament. That’s a lot. The reserve perimeter guys are certainly capable of coming in and really helping us out. It’s really about them getting a chance. That’s Coach Jones’ thing to deal with. I don’t really have a say in that. He’s going to manage playing time how he sees fit, and that’s really that.
BL: So are you concerned a little bit individually about taking on so many minutes early in the season?
KH: I mean as a basketball player I like it. Obviously I like that. Over the course of a long season it can take its toll, but I don’t really concern myself with that. I think it would help us out if we had other guys playing some more, but at the same time the guys playing a lot of minutes have been productive in those minutes. We’ll see. It’s all about taking care of your body. If I do that then I’ll be fine with these types of minutes.
BL: I know you’ve got McNeese State Saturday night, but the stretch next week of Massachusetts (Tuesday night) and at West Virginia (Thursday night) is really big. How can this team get to a point where it’s ready to compete in games like that against teams that have played really well this season?
KH: It’s all about how we approach it before the game. I think we’ll be fired up for both of those games, especially UMass coming in here. We’ll be thirsty to get revenge on them for last year. Then West Virginia, with how well they’ve played, we have to go into their place. To me it’s kind of like if you’re not ready to play in games like those, I don’t know even know why we’re out there strapping on the shoes. Those are the types of games that we practice for. Really this next week is going to define how we prepare for bigger games, SEC games in the future.