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LSU coaches, players to take part in SEC Tipoff ’15

The Southeastern Conference begins the countdown to the start of the college basketball season Tuesday and Wednesday with men’s and women’s coaches and players from all 14 schools taking part in SEC Tipoff ’15 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The two-day SEC Basketball Media Days event was moved from Birmingham, Alabama, this year in part because of the proximity to SEC Network studios in Charlotte.

First up Tuesday are the women, which will include LSU coach Nikki Caldwell, forward Sheila Boykin and guard Raigyne Moncrief.

While there will be no live television coverage Tuesday, portions of the women’s Media Day will be shown on the SEC Network’s daily “SEC Now” show from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

On Wednesday, LSU men’s coach Johnny Jones and forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin will be in the spotlight along with coaches and players from the other 13 schools.

ESPNU will televise a one-hour Media Day special from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday featuring interviews with men’s coaches and players, while “SEC Now” will have selected clips from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Preseason All-SEC teams and the predicted order of finish for the women will be announced during lunch Tuesday with the men following Wednesday.

LSU men’s basketball tabbed as a “team on the rise”

On the day of its first preseason practice, the LSU men’s basketball program was listed as a “team on the rise” by writer Terrance Payne of the NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk website.

The Tigers will hold their first practice on Wednesday afternoon as they continue preparing for the Nov. 15 regular-season opener against Gardner Webb in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

LSU, which was 20-14 last season and reached the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, has two starters returning in sophomore forwards Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, as well as three highly-regarded freshmen in guard Jalyn Patterson, center Elbert Robinson III and forward Aaron Epps.

They also have a pair of top newcomers in guards Keith Hornsby and Josh Gray.

Payne wrote: “With Jarrell Martin and Jordan Mickey — joined by Elbert Robinson III — the Tigers will have no shortage of size on the frontline. The back court will be new with JUCO point guard Josh Gray and 6-foot-4 transfer Keith Hornsby.

“LSU is one of several SEC teams looking to join Kentucky and Florida in the Big Dance.”

LSU basketball teams to host ‘Bayou Madness’ on Oct. 17

With the opening of their seasons just more than a month away, the LSU men’s and women’s basketball teams continue down “The Road to Tipoff” with an appearance at the second annual Bayou Madness on Oct. 17.

Members of the men’s and women’s teams will meet and greet fans both inside and outside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center as they continue to get ready for the upcoming season. Admission is free.

Events on the floor of the Maravich Center will begin at 7:30 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m. Outside, a pep rally for the two teams will start at 6:45 p.m. on the south side of the arena.

There will be a lights-out introduction of the players from both teams followed by remarks from head coaches Johnny Jones and Nikki Caldwell.

Fans will get their first look at the teams in a 3-point shootout, a scrimmage and a slam dunk contest by the men’s team. Also, one LSU student will win a $1,000 cash prize.

Fans will also have a chance to meet the LSU cheerleaders and Tiger Girls and children 13 and under will have an opportunity to take part in an LSU cheer clinic hosted by members of the LSU Spirit squad.

For more information or to sign up for the clinic, call the LSU Marketing and Promotions office at (225) 578-6884 or email promotions@lsu.edu.

LSU basketball gets more TV assignments, game times

Television networks and start times for 10 more LSU men’s basketball games for the upcoming season were announced Wednesday by the Southeastern Conference office.

While most of the nonconference games and league schedule were announced in August, broadcast arrangements and tipoff times still had to be worked out for several games.

In addition to games announced in August, the networks picked up five more SEC matchups — including road contests at Vanderbilt on Jan. 24 (ESPNU, 5 p.m.), Mississippi State on Jan. 31 (SEC Network, 1 p.m.) and Tennessee on Feb. 14 (SEC Network, 3 p.m.).

Other league home games picked up on Wednesday were against Ole Miss on Feb. 28 (Fox Sports Network, 1 p.m.) and Tennessee on March 4 (SEC Network, 6 p.m.).

The only conference starting time that hasn’t been decided is the March 7 regular-season finale at Arkansas, but the game will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

The SEC Network also picked up five non-conference games at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center — UMass on Dec. 2 (6 p.m.), Sam Houston State on Dec. 13 (6 p.m.), College of Charleston on Dec. 22 (8 p.m.), Southern Miss on Dec. 29 (6 p.m.) and Savannah State on Jan. 3 (6 p.m.).

In addition, three home games will air over SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.com. Those games are an exhibition contest with Morehouse on Nov. 7 (7 p.m.), the regular-season opener against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 15 (noon) and McNeese State on Nov. 29 (7 p.m.).

The only nonconference games awaiting a tip time are the Tigers’ final two games in the Nov. 21-24 Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, which depends on the outcome of their first game, and a Dec. 18 game at UAB.

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.

 

Former LSU star Dupree joins staff as student assistant

LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones announced Monday that former Tigers standout Ronald Dupree, who played 10 years of professional ball, has been named a student assistant for the upcoming season.

The 33-year-old Dupree, who played for LSU from 1999 to 2003, has returned to school to complete his degree work and will follow a similar path to what Jones did in his first year on the Tigers’ staff under Dale Brown during the 1984-85 season.

“We’re excited about Ronald Dupree’s addition to our staff as he continues to pursue his degree in electrical engineering,” Jones said in a news release. “He has shown through our camps and clinics his passion and desire to be involved in coaching, and we look forward to his participation with our basketball team serving as a student assistant coach this year.”

Dupree, who led the Southeastern Conference in scoring (17.3 points per game) and was second in rebounding (8.8) as a sophomore in 2000-01, played under former coach John Brady.

A three-time All-SEC selection, Dupree, who helped lead the Tigers to an SEC title as a freshman in 2000, still ranks ninth in LSU history in career scoring (13.4) and rebounding (7.0).

He played six seasons in the NBA with Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota and Toronto and also played professionally in Israel.

LSU basketball teams to host ‘Mall Ball’ event

The LSU men’s and women’s basketball teams will make their first appearance of the new school year at the second annual “Mall Ball” event at the Mall of Louisiana on Sunday.

Members of both teams will sign autographs and take photos with fans from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in the Dillard’s wing of the mall.

The event kicks off the “Road to Tipoff,” a series of preseason appearances for the Tigers and Lady Tigers around Baton Rouge and the LSU campus as they move toward the start of the 2014-15 season.

All events are free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.LSUsports.net.

BRBVA to honor former LSU coach Dale Brown

Former LSU men’s basketball coach Dale Brown will be recognized for his contributions to the community with the naming of a court in his honor by the Baton Rouge Basketball and Volleyball Association.

Brown, who coached the Tigers from 1972-97, will be honored during the BRBVA Community Court Honors reception and dinner to be held Thursday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. in the L’Auberge Casino Ballroom.

Several members of LSU’s All-Century team and former Tigers who played for Brown during his 25-year tenure are expected to attend the event, according to a news release.

Tickets for the cocktail hour and dinner are available at $325 for an individual or $2,500 for a table of eight.

For more information, call Brock Kantrow at (225) 328-6461 or email him at brock@teamsportsplex.net.

LSU’s Mickey, Martin on Athlon All-Sophomore teams

LSU had two players named Monday to the national All-Sophomore team for the upcoming season by Athlon Sports.

Jordan Mickey was a first-team pick, while Martin was a third-team selection as the publication broke down players by class for the 2014-15 season.

Mickey was one of four SEC players named to the group’s first all-sophomore team.

Of Mickey, Athlon editors said: “Mickey joined exclusive company by becoming only the second player in LSU history with 100 blocked shots in a season. The other is Shaquille O’Neal. After averaging 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds, Mickey will team with fellow sophomore Jarell Martin for what could be the Southeastern Conference’s best frontcourt duo.”

Joining Mickey on the first team were Kentucky’s Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Arkansas’ Bobby Portis.

Martin had a strong second half to his freshman season and averaged 10.3 points and 4.6 rebounds a game. He and Mickey were named to the All-SEC freshmen team a year ago.

Mickey was also a first-team All-SEC pick along with former LSU standout Johnny O’Bryant III, who was a second-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Vanderbilt forward Damian Jones, a former ScotlandvilleHigh School standout, joined Martin as a third-team All-Sophomore selection.

Q & A: New LSU assistant coach Eric Musselman

Former Arizona State associate head coach Eric Musselman was hired Tuesday to fill a spot on the LSU coaching staff.

Former Arizona State associate head coach Eric Musselman was hired Tuesday to fill a spot on the LSU coaching staff.

By now, the news is out and digested.

Former NBA coach and recent Arizona State associate coach Eric Musselman has been hired by LSU to fill the two-week old vacancy created when Korey McCray left the program.

I’ll have a full story on Musselman, a basketball lifer and son of a former coach in Bill Musselman, bring some schematic acumen to a staff who faced critiques on that point last season.

For now, though, here’s a transcript of the 18-minute chat I had with Musselman on Tuesday afternoon as he drove to pick up son from a camp in California.

Q: I’m sure answering this question is deja vu, but why stick with coaching at the college level as opposed to trying to work your way back into the professional ranks?

A: Our family made a decision a few years ago that we were going to change our path and go from pro ball to college. You know, my wife loves the college environment. I love it from a coaching standpoint. The players are so eager to learn and you can have such an impact not only on the floor, but also off the court. All those things have drawn me to really love being a part of a college campus.”

Q: What do you like about the player-coach dynamic and interaction appeals to a professional league?

A: It’s interesting, because my time in the NBA D-League, I always looked at my relationship with players. In the D-League, you’re dealing with guys all the time. You’re staying in all different types of hotels, and it’s more similar to college. You can have more of an impact and lifetime relationships. So that’s a same type thing: Being around guys where you’re not just with them at practice or a game. You can have a much deeper relationship. Even the guys at ASU, being around them for two years you can develop that kind of lifelong relationship. To me that’s a really neat thing.

Q: Is it sort of a middle ground then to work at that level, and does it open the path up to committing full-time to the college ranks? The guys are still hungry to learn and reach the professional level, but there’s that college amount of intimacy?

A: That’s a perfect way to phrase it. It’s a little bit in between. You really pride yourself on having an impact on someone’s life, like Gerald Green. The thing with Gerald was he needed to learn how to prepare himself for practice, prepare himself for the game, understand the importance of scouting reports. He had all the natural talent and gifts, but it was all those intangibles and he was willing to let us help him see the light. You get that aspect much more at the collegiate level than you do at the professional level.

Q: So does that open up a desire to go full bore into college?

A: I don’t think there’s any doubt that the relationships in the D-League are so much different than they are in the NBA, because you are around them off the floor. There’s only so many restaurants in Erie, Pa., when you’re on a road trip. You end up eating with guys. Those relationships off the floor become stronger, and whether it’s Gerald Green or Jeremy Lin, finding ways for those guys to reach their goals becomes really important. At the college level, to get a player to understand that if they have NBA aspirations, this is what they’re going to talk about in a draft room. I’ve done it. I’ve been in it. Your body language coming in and out off a game. Your body language when a coach is talking to you. Are you engaged? Are you a guy in warm-ups who prepares the right way? All those intangibles are things you can talk to a player at the college level and try to open his eyes to things he maybe hasn’t heard from anyone else before.

Q: You said when you get to Arizona State it was a chance to re-learn the game? You’ve said the style, learning how not to over coach and handling guys off the floor were in play. What did your two years in Tempe impart?

A: There’s so many differences between the two games on the floor that you wouldn’t know unless you’ve done both. I’ve learned a ton the last two years, and I know I’ll learn a ton from Johnny and his staff. That’s part of the thing that’s so exciting to me is to continue to learn as a coach. There’s little things, like baseline out of bounds defense is so important in college basketball. It’s much more a premium than in the pro game, where side out-of-bounds offense and defense is so vital. That’s a little thing that becomes monumental in close games. Even the way you can get emotionally up for a game is different than in the NBA. In the NBA, the emotions don’t start taking place until the playoffs. In the college game, when ASU is playing Arizona, and you’ve got a chance to knock off the No. 1 team in the country, it’s not just another game. You’re not playing four or five games a week, it allows you to get so emotionally invested in it from a preparation standpoint and with the players. All those things are different and unique.

Q: You met Herb Sendek a couple years ago at a shootaround when they were up in Berkely at a shootaround. What’s the backstory with LSU?

A: David Patrick and I are really good friends. When David was at Saint Mary’s, I was hanging out at Saint Mary’s a lot. Randy Bennett, who’s the head coach at Saint Mary’s, was the head coach at San Diego when I played there. So there’s that little Saint Mary’s tree. Randy and I are friends, and David and I are friends. That was the bridge to coach Jones.

Q: Obviously, Johnny’s not just a peer but a boss. What appealed to you about the possible working relationship and how he oversees LSU?

The more I talked to Johnny about the job, the more I got excited. And we talked about it a lot. Again, each conversation led me to feel that this was the right place. I was offered a NBA assistant’s job in basically the same time frame, and this felt like the perfect fit to me. My wife is really excited. My two sons are really, really excited. We sat a dinner table and talked about the NBA and college. We went back and forth, and it was unanimous between myself, wife and two sons. We did our own little voting, and it came out 4-0. I was really fortunate to have the opportunity I’ve had at the pro level,a nd I know I still have a lot to learn at the college level. I just want to come in and try to do anything that coach Jones wants. Camaraderie on a staff is so important, and I just feel that we’re going to have an opportunity to have that great staff chemistry.

Q: A lot of people will look at your background and say, ‘He’s an Xs and Os guy.’ You’re a coach’s son, and you’ve lived the game since a kid. What do those experiences bring to the staff? If there’s been a critique of the staff, it’s they might need someone with your kind of track record. Is that the role, or is it still to be defined?

A: I think it’s still to be defined. Coach has been great about talking about it. Eventually, roles evolved. We’ve talked a lot of Xs and Os. I’m going to learn a lot being there. I don’t know (assistant coach) Charlie (Leonard) very well. I just know David and Johnny. We’ve talked hoops, and I think everybody brings something to table.

Q: When I look stylistically, Arizona State and LSU played at pretty good clips tempo. You all were known for that at Golden State. How is the fit from a style and personnel standpoint?

A: I think it’s a perfect fit. That’s a lot of the reason it made sense to be a part of Johnny’s staff. We have a lot of similar beliefs in how the game is played. That was really important that he believes in an up-tempo style and transition baskets. From that standpoint, it’s a great fit.

Q: How much have you been able to sort of digest any tape from last year of the team? Is that the goal when you get into Baton Rouge?

A: I have a lot of catching up to do, not only with LSU. I want to dive into the other teams in the conference and try to learn their strength and weakness. I have a learning curve where I’ll have to catch up with the rest of the staff. I have been watching tape. That was part of the decision-making process. They’ve done an unbelievable job recruiting, and both of the bigs from last year have great upside. The incoming recruiting class in an exciting one. The point guard (Josh Gray) and the kid coming in from Texas (Elbert Robinson) mean there’s a lot of pieces to work with.

Q: Logistically, what’s the plan to relocate and get settled?

A: Obviously, we got all this finalized this morning. We’re getting on a plane Sunday. My son has camp until Saturday, and as soon as that ends we’re on a plane at 8 a.m. Sunday. My son will go to LSU’s campMonday. I’ll be working, and my wife will be looking for places to live.

Q: When did you all take the vote?

A: We took the vote about four days ago.

Q: Can you remember how far back Johnny reached out?

A: I can’t really even remember, but I know he’s a great recruiter because he got me. He has me sold.

Hickey visits Oklahoma State, mulls a choice, father says

Anthony Hickey, who left LSU last month appears close to landing at Oklahoma State, where he'd fill an immediate need. (The Advocate | Catherine Threlkeld)

Anthony Hickey, who left LSU last month appears close to landing at Oklahoma State, where he’d fill an immediate need. (The Advocate | Catherine Threlkeld)

Welcome to Stillwater, Anthony Hickey.

Maybe.

The Oklahoman reported Wednesday that Hickey is close to joining OklahomaState, a program in need of an experienced hand at the point guard spot after losing Marcus Smart and Markel Brown.

On Thursday, Anthony Hickey Sr., the point guard’s father, told The Advocate his son is currently on a campus visit, and may decide by the end of the day whether to pledge his services the Cowboys.

“He took a trip out there, and he’s sort of liked it so far,” Anthony Hickey Sr. said. “He might love it.” Roughly a month ago, LSU parted ways with the three-year starter after the program decided not to renew his scholarship.

Now, Hickey could have remained in Baton Rouge to finish his degree, but would not have been on the Tigers roster next season. It didn’t help Hickey’s efforts that he was released right on the cusp of a NCAA-mandated dead period that ran until June 1 and prevented in-person contact with coaches and campus visits.

“That’s what really messed it up,” Anthony Hickey Sr. said.

The guard fielded some interest from Purdue, Butler, Southern Mississippi, Western Kentucky, Southern Illinois and a “bunch” of low-major programs, Anthony Hickey Sr. said.

Still, OSU’s Travis Ford was one of the few head coaches to reach out and make contact, along with Cowboys assistant coach Butch Pierre.

“That stood out to our family,” Anthony Hickey Sr. said.

The linchpin could be whether the guard is immediately eligible next season, or whether he’s forced to sit out the usual one season as a transfer. A solution could be found in a little-used, little-known “run-off” waiver, which was created in 2012.

Under the guidelines for a waiver, Hickey would need to show his exit from the Tigers “was outside the control of the student athlete,” prove he is in good academic standing and get a statement from LSU indicating they support the request.

Right now, Anthony Hickey Sr. said he’s under the impression Jones’ program wouldn’t have any reason or desire to withhold that support.

“They said they will do anything to help,” he said. “Anything outside of that would be a surprise to us.”

The Cowboys, who were a top-10 early last season but stumbled to a second-round exit in the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed, face a measure of uncertainty about who will run the show next season.

With Smart and Brown out of the fold, one option is incoming freshman Tyree Griffin, a Landry-Walker product plucked out of New Orleans in April by Pierre — a former LSU assistant during John Brady’s tenure. Aside from Griffin, OSU tried to shore up depth with one of the nation’s better JUCO prospects in Jeff Newberry.

Scoring the commitment and signature of Hickey would round out a reasonable rotation, one that saw the program’s heir apparent exit in February when Steve Clark — a former consensus top-100 recruit — was booted from the program.

“It’s kind of a perfect situation for him,” Anthony Hickey Sr. said. “But he’s still going to weigh his options.”

Over their two seasons together, Jones and Hickey butted heads at times. There were missed study halls, tardiness to team meetings, and the coach never deemed the point guard a leader in spite of a position that required a hefty dose of that trait.

Nevertheless, Hickey started 85 games in his career, averaging 9.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. During his sophomore season, he carved out a niche as one of the Southeastern Conference’s best ball hawks after averaging 2.9 steals per game.

But this season, Hickey didn’t start the Tigers’ first three games after winding up in Jones’ doghouse, simultaneously allowing LSU to experiment with freshman Tim Quarterman in the lineup. The experiment didn’t yield sterling results, and Hickey was reinserted.

Yet, he curbed his risk-taking in the passing lanes, seeing his steals dip to 1.9 per game — a nod to the Tigers’ struggle at times keeping bigger guards from attacking the rim. Still, he became a more efficient distributor, posting a career-high 3.7 assists per game and a SEC-leading 2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.

As a scorer, Hickey was more of a spot-up shooter, a profile confirmed by the fact 66.2 percent of his field-goal attempts came behind the 3-point arc and connected on 34.4 percent of them.

Now, perhaps those traits might be Big-12 bound.

“There’s nothing bad to say about LSU,” Anthony Hickey Sr. said. “He had a wonderful three years there.”