With Johnny O’Bryant III making the decision to leave school after his junior season, LSU will need to figure out how they’ll account for the 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds he provided per game in 2013-14. Of course much of that will be done by returnees Jordan Mickey and Jarell Martin, with the former also blocking 3.1 shots per game and both earning SEC All-Freshman Team honors.
Another player hoping to work his way into the mix in 2014-15 is incoming freshman Elbert Robinson, and the fact of the matter is that head coach Johnny Jones will need the 7-foot-1 center to do just that. And after playing his senior year of high school at 330 pounds, Robinson’s (he arrived on campus at 301) made progress with regards to his weight and conditioning in these months before the start of practice.
“I had to get rid of a lot of that baby fat,” he said last week during a media session to introduce the four new LSU players, along with transfer Keith Hornsby and sophomore Brian Bridgewater, who sat out last season as he waited on the NCAA Clearinghouse.
“I’m down to 288 now and I want to be around 275-80 when the season gets here. I want to be more explosive and be able to get up and down the floor better than I ever have before.”
How much Robinson plays this season remains to be seen, but if in shape he has the tools needed to help LSU in the paint. He was a less productive player as a high school senior than he was as a junior due in large part to those weight issues, and according to the Times-Picayuye Robinson’s been put through the paces by strength and conditioning coach Ricky Lefebvre and nutritionist Jamie Meeks.
The lessons learned from those two can help Robinson not only in the short-term but in the long-term as well.
How to account for the loss of O’Bryant isn’t the only question LSU will be faced with this season. The Tigers also lost three backcourt contributors, with Anthony Hickey moving on to Oklahoma State and Shavon Coleman and Andre Stringer gone as well. Junior college transfer Josh Gray and UNC Asheville transfer Keith Hornsby will be important in that regard, as will sophomore Tim Quarterman and freshman Jalyn Patterson.
LSU finished the season with a 20-14 record, going 9-9 in the SEC and falling to SMU in the second round of the Postseason NIT.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.