The team practiced for about and hour and a half and the session included a couple of scrimmage periods using local officials to sharpen the Tigers after being off since Saturday's win over Texas. At the end of the practice, the team was visited by Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields and nationally known The Reverend Jesse Jackson. Jackson watched the last few minutes of the practice and then spoke briefly to the players.
The team will have a closed practice Wednesday morning before a public sendoff at 2:30 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. The team charter is expected to leave Baton Rouge at 4 p.m.
Watch archived video of the LSU men's basketball team's pre-Final Four press conference in the Geaux Zone powered by USAgencies, featuring head coach John Brady, Glen Davis, Darrel Mitchell and Tyrus Thomas.
Earlier in the day, the team met with a group of local and national reporters in the administration building and here are some of the quotes from the event:
LSU Men's Basketball
Final Four Press Conference
March 28, 2006
"There are a couple of things I want to start with. First, I'd like to reiterate what Coach (Skip) Bertman said, and I appreciate the kind words. I'd like to congratulate Pokey's (Chatman) team and the women again for their third straight trip to the Final Four. I know this is a press conference about the men's team, but it's also a press conference about LSU. Anything that positive for LSU is positive for all of us, including the men's team. I'd like to congratulate her and her third trip. I've got a sneaking hunch that they've got a chance to win it. The second thing is, and I said this in Atlanta, I'm fortunate to be able to coach a wonderful collection of players, talented players, but also a wonderful collection of young people -- young men I've enjoyed being around."
"The other thing about this particular group is they don't feel like they've achieved what they wanted to yet. I said this several times since Atlanta. I remember when the celebration was over after we were able to beat Texas. I remember when Darrel (Mitchell), Glen (Davis), Tyrus (Thomas) and I were walking to meet the media. I looked at Glen and I said, ‘You know, I don't feel like I thought I would feel after doing what we've done and we're about to go to the Final Four.' I thought I would feel differently. Inside of me I felt like this isn't over yet and we've got some work to do. Glen says, ‘Man, coach, I feel the same way. I'm ready to go home and get back to work.'"
"Well, we're going to have an opportunity to start that today at 2:30 p.m. Because the media has been so kind to want to know everything about our players and our team, I know you'll respect the fact today that we're going to practice by ourselves. We've usually been an open book throughout my career here, and we've never tried to close any workouts. For the next couple of days, with all due respect, we need some time to be with our team and get back to what's going to really count. That's how we practice and prepare for UCLA."
"It's been great to this point. Our players deserve all the credit for how they've played, how they've handled themselves. Again, what Coach Bertman said was right on the money. It comes at a great time for our state. It comes at a great time for the people of this state who have had some misfortune. None of the people that have gone through what they've gone through with the hurricanes deserve for any of that to happen to them. If our own little part of it can make people have some pride and feel better about their circumstance, we feel fortunate and we're humbled by that when people say that we're a part of making them be proud of being from Louisiana. Hopefully, we can continue that through this weekend."
On the other qualities his team possesses besides its
"Well, I think a lot of times when you see athletic players you probably don't see all the other things that they're doing fundamentally to allow them to win games. I've seen a lot of athletic teams not reach the point that these collection of players have. I think they're a receptive group to coaching. Athleticism without fundamentally detailed play sometimes is of no value. I think when you can get some attention to detail and some commitment to fundamental play along with the athleticism and talent, it makes for a very good team. I think that's what you see is taking place here. It's been a situation where it's developed as young players -- three freshmen, a sophomore, a senior. We come off the bench with Darnell (Lazare), a junior, and two freshmen. You've seen this team kind of develop. It's something that doesn't happen overnight, but to their credit they've stayed the course. They lost a couple of close games to some quality opposition, but they've listened, they've been receptive and I think that perceptiveness to the coaching along with their athleticism and God-given talent has helped them mold the team that you're seeing right now and how it's playing. We just need to do it a couple of more times."
On some of the toughest times he's had while at LSU...
"I don't really look at it that way. Every team presents its own set of challenges, and every team has its own circumstances that surround it. It's something you work through on a daily basis. I don't regret anything that has happened to me here. I don't hold any ill feelings toward anyone. I don't keep a list of revenge. I don't do all of that. Those of you who have dealt with me know that's not the case. I don't live like that. I may speak my mind at the time, but after that it's done with me. I move on because there's too many other things that are going to happen other than to think about what happened four or five years ago. I can't even remember, honestly, bad times. I've worked through some. I've dealt with them the best I can. I've had my critics along the way. I've got my critics right now. So, there's nothing really I can do about that."
"What I need to do is to control the things that I have my hands on that I can possibly control. Other than that, I just try to wake up everyday and do a better job today than I did yesterday and hope our team is better prepared for today than they were yesterday. I want to go to the practice and make our team better and forget about what went on in the past, maybe learn from it and try not to repeat the same mistakes. I've made some mistakes, obviously. There's no question about it. But I've tried to correct them and get better and improve. I think if you approach it like that, you know, things have a tendency to work out. I'm glad everybody's excited about our team and where we are and there's some feel good about me and these young players. That's what I'm most proud of right now. Who knows what the future holds, but I know right now it's good and I want to make sure we enjoy it but yet not get spoiled by it and know full well today at 2:30 we've got more work to do."
On the importance of his coaching staff this
"There was a nice article about John Treloar today in the paper and that was pretty significant. I equate a successful coaching staff to a successful team. I think the intangibles that go through a coaching staff mirror what a successful team has. This team has a lot of things that you sense and feel, but you can't really describe -- their closeness, their care and concern for one another, their friendship, their relationships. I've heard all of our players tell the others ‘I've got your back' so many times. That's extremely important for a team to build that type of belief and trust and camaraderie. I think for a coaching staff to be successful at this level it needs to be built on the same things -- relationships, trust, camaraderie, being able to disagree without being disagreeable, every coach on the staff knowing their role and their contribution, not having jealousy or envy within the coaching staff. I've been on a coaching staff like that before where this assistant is worrying about what the other assistant is getting and how much credit they were getting for this. I've been there."
"This team has no envy or jealousy. Our coaching staff has no envy or jealousy. From Scott Soprych to Nikita Johnson to John Treloar and Butch Pierre, the personalities have meshed. It's all fit. Each coach has their own strengths and it certainly has made for me, the head coach, enjoyable to come to work being able to identify things we need to do better and problems that may be there that we need to work through it. Not only have we handled some difficult times and some challenges, but it's also important in how you handle success because success can change people and influence people in negative ways if you allow it to. To this point, our coaching staff has handled not only some difficult times, but also the success recently in a straightforward way and a mature way. I appreciate them for that."
On the high school talent in the state of Louisiana...
"I think something that needs to be said, that needs to be made perfectly clear that I think is important is we have some local talent. When we came to LSU nine years ago, that was one of the things I wanted to do was recruit Louisiana first. I think the timing of some of these players being on our team now and where they're from is unique. Now, we've been able to capitalize on that, but what makes these players as talented as they are? It's not talent alone, obviously. Or let's say what makes these players the basketball players they are? It's not talent alone because I've seen some talented players that don't understand how to play. What I need to say and I want to make sure this gets out, Louisiana produces good basketball players because we have excellent high school coaching. I don't think that fact needs to be ignored too. Tyrus Thomas, Tasmin Mitchell or Darrel Mitchell -- he played for his father and I'm sure he'd say he had a pretty good high school coach -- they didn't just show up and all of a sudden they're good players. They had some instruction and some guidance from their high school coaches in this state and this community. I want to make sure I'm on record as thanking them for allowing us to recruit them and bringing them to LSU and continue what they started with these young players in high school. I don't know if we'll ever have this type of situation on our team again. I hope we do, but it certainly has worked out. That's why I feel fortunate to have crossed LSU at this particular time. I appreciate the timing of this."