Jones: Scheduling initiative paying dividends

LSU coach Johnny Jones believes the SEC is in a better position heading into Selection Sunday this year compared to last. He credits scheduling for making the difference.

It's been no secret in recent years that Southeastern Conference basketball needed an overhaul to improve its national perception.

Part of the problem was soft non-conference scheduling, and, after an offseason in which the league implemented a new scheduling initiative, some are seeing the pay-off now that Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament is drawing near.

Among that number is LSU head coach Johnny Jones, who believes as opposed to last year, when the SEC landed only three in the Big Dance, improved scheduling has the conference in a position to put as many as six teams in the annual 68-team tournament.

"I think the scheduling initiative has played a huge role," Jones said Monday on the SEC Coaches Teleconference. "I’m just glad because I know around this time last year unfortunately we had some teams that should’ve been considered and weren’t being mentioned. Now when you watch TV or listen to people doing their talk shows, they talk about five or six teams (getting in) from the SEC and rightfully so."

"You look at what Kentucky’s done out of conference and the battles they’ve had in conference ... It’s good to see the league recognized."

Currently four teams in the conference sport records of 10-4 or better. They are Kentucky and Arkansas, both ranked in the top 20 nationally, as well as Texas A&M and Ole Miss.

LSU and Georgia are two games behind at 8-6.

Coach Jones also answered a question Monday morning about the shot-blocking prowess of Jordan Mickey.

"He’s just got a tremendous knack and a gift for being able to block shots," explained Jones. "A lot of times he get them when guys release the ball from their hand. He comes from the weakside and blocks them. Also sometimes from guys that he’s guarding. He’s got abilities like a Willie Cauley-Stein. It’s intimidating. Sometimes they block shots, but sometimes they alter them. That gets guys worrying about them and thinking about them."

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