Jones: Playing with an edge lifting LSU

From closing out games late to winning on the road, LSU basketball is venturing into uncharted territory in the Johnny Jones era. Jones detailed the individual progress of certain players and discussed how playing with "an edge" makes all the difference.

Depending on your preseason perspective, LSU basketball is either at or ahead of schedule at this juncture, sitting at 15-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play.

But that doesn't mean it's been a smooth ride the past 10 weeks.

The Tigers dropped into a valley during their trip to the Virgin Islands, going 1-2 and suffering a bad loss to Clemson, before rising back and ascending to a peak with a win at No. 16 West Virginia.

The same pattern played out when the Bayou Bengals followed up a loss at lowly Missouri with a win at Ole Miss, a tough place to play, a week later ... And the refrain played again more recently with Johnny Jones' crew bouncing back from an inexcusable home loss to Texas A&M with consecutive triumphs at Florida and at Vanderbilt.

On the eve of LSU's next contest - at home versus South Carolina Wednesday night - Jones spoke one-on-one with TSD about a number of topics, including what's helped the Tigers close out games on the road and what's triggered the development of Darcy Malone.

The third-year LSU coach also opened up on his backcourt, explaining his use of Tim Quarterman and Josh Gray as well as why Jalyn Patterson has had this level of success as a freshman.

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“I just think the guys have done a great job of playing together, connecting and they’ve really taken some positive steps. They’ve been able to play with an edge about them, which has been needed. There’s been a sense of urgency, too, to win those games. It took all those things for us as a team to be successful. One of the things they’ve been able to do is really dig deep when needed and execute on one end of the floor while making plays defensively and getting stops. It’s really been fun to watch the process that they’re going through right now.”
- On what's made the difference late in games for LSU

“Jarell and Jordan have been their leaders. I think Tim has done a tremendous job and [Keith] Hornsby has made some huge plays down the stretch. The same with Jalyn Patterson. I think we’ve done it by committee, all the guys are trusting each other to make it happen.”
- On if that edge comes from any one individual player

“It helps. He kinda changes the tempo for us. Even when he’s playing the point-forward spot, it’s the same. He’s capable of making plays from there. So it’s not a big difference (in terms of) the impact he makes if he’s at the one or the three spot. He’s going to do the same things, and when he’s on the floor a lot of times positive things happen.”
- On moving Quarterman to more point guard, particularly late

“He’s had some really good games for us and, unfortunately, a couple of other games he probably wasn’t as on-point as he would like to be. But we’ve been very fortunate because of some of the depth that we have, we’ve been able to make some adjustments and put other guys in different positions. Josh has had some great moments for us, and we look forward to him balancing those things out. We hope that will come as he continues to mold to this basketball team.”
- How he sees Gray and his progression

“It takes certain kids being in certain situations. That helps. And being on the right team is important. I think we have a great situation for Jalyn because it’s one of those deals where he’s had to be thrown into the fire. He’s surrounded by some really talented guys who’ve done a tremendous job of playing together. As a freshman they really trust Jalyn, and he’s earned that from those guys. They’ve really jelled well together, and he’s come in and fit in well with the group. I think he plays relaxed with those guys.”
- On Patterson's pedigree coming in and taking to the group

“Darcy, even though he didn’t play in some of the games (early in the season), his practice habits never changed. He’s continued to get better and shown some great signs. The last few starts he’s had, he’s really been a bright spot for our team.”
- On who is fortifying the post for the Tigers

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