Stringer, LSU have a big game on tap (USA Today)
In a one-on-one interview with TSD publisher Ben Love, senior guard Andre Stringer discusses the keys to LSU's big showdown with No. 11 Kentucky. Stringer also looks back at the Alabama game and talks about the decision to stop pressing late.
LSU (12-6, 3-3) will face its biggest challenge of the season to date when No. 11 Kentucky (15-4, 5-1) comes calling on the PMAC Tuesday night. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Monday afternoon, while guest-hosting "After Further Review" on 104.5 FM (WNXX) in Baton Rouge, I had the opportunity to go one-on-one with senior Tiger guard Andre Stringer.
The Jackson, Miss., native discussed LSU's narrow defeat at Alabama, why the team stopped pressing late and gave several glimpses into how the team is approaching the Kentucky contest.
Here's the full transcript of that radio interview.
Ben Love: I know it was a tough loss in Tuscaloosa, but take us back to that stretch in the second half when you guys were able to dent that 19-point lead and take a lead of your own.
Andre Stringer: It was definitely a tough loss for us. We got out in the second half and pressed them a little bit, got a chance to create some turnovers off our pressure, led by Shavon Coleman. We got a couple layups, and we were able to cut their lead and take the lead (momentarily).
BL: What is it about that pressure defense, especially the full-court press, that makes this team so effective? And were you a little surprised that you guys stopped doing it with four or five minutes left?
AS: We have guys with a lot of length, and we have guys with a lot of speed. With those quick hands, we get our hands on a lot of balls when we do press. I think late in the game it’s kind of hard to press when it’s a one- or two-possession game because you don’t want to get them easy layups or wide-open shots on the opposite end. I think that was more of the take on why we got out of it late.
BL: Spinning things forward and looking toward the Kentucky game, what has the team seen on film so far on them and what impression do you get of this Kentucky team?
AS: Well we’ve been watching them all year. Everybody’s been watching them; they come on TV a lot. We know they’re a well-coached team. They’ve gelled together and they play well together. We know they’re really good in fast-break situations. We’re going to prepare for them like we prepare for anybody else, knowing that even with the magnitude of the game that we’re up for the challenge. It’s going to be a great game.
BL: As opposed to years past, you guys are very deep in the post with options like Johnny O’Bryant and Jordan Mickey and then Jarell Martin off the bench. Do you think that makes this team better-equipped to go up against the size Kentucky has?
AS: I would think so. We have a lot of guys that can stretch the floor, but obviously when you look at our bigs, Johnny and Jordan, they’re both capable of hitting 15-footers, as well as Jarell. We have decent guards on the outside that can really shoot it and get inside the lane to make our teammates better, so we have a host of things we can do. The main thing that we do is play hard, take care of the ball and defend at all costs. Those are the most important things that we can do, and they’ll give us a shot at winning the game.
BL: Obviously the name of the game is to score more points than the other team, but do you think there’s a certain speed this game could be played at that benefits hyour team?
AS: I do. I think it’s important we play LSU basketball, which is we run in opportunities, slow down when we have to and get the ball inside. Those are the things we’re accustomed to doing, but we have to make sure we’re making plays on the defensive end, too, and getting shutouts late.
BL: Andre, a year ago this team started off 0-4 in conference play and was able to rebound and finish with a flourish. This year you’re at 3-3, so it’s not as bad as it was, but how do you get off the mat, so to speak, and put a few wins together in a row?
AS: We have to understand that we made mistakes in the past, had some setbacks and had some losses, but we look forward to the games ahead of us. We’re going to have our opportunities to bounce back from losses. The main thing is knowing our mistakes and trying to get better at those each and every day in practice. I think we’ll be fine if we do those things.