BLOG: Johnny Jones presser
Alleva, LSU introduced new men’s basketball coach
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Editor
A familiar face will be introduced in a new role Monday when former Tiger player and assistant coach Johnny Jones meets with the media for the first time as head coach of the LSU men’s basketball team.
Set to begin at 1 p.m., Jones’ introductory press conference will likely cover a lot of bases — from who his assistants will be to recruiting and retaining current players to the style of basketball LSU fans can expect to see in the future.
We’ll have wall-to-wall coverage of the presser here at TigerRag.com, feeding you the latest information from Jones and other LSU basketball luminaries in the building. Check back to this post for live updates, with the newest information at the bottom of the page.
You can also read our live Twitter coverage of the event by following @Tiger_Rag.
Here’s the link: https://twitter.com/#!/Tiger_Rag
12:55 p.m. — Plenty of LSU basketball stars in the place early. This place is getting packed. Among those in attendance: Dale Brown, Collis Temple Jr., Ricky Blanton, Jordy Hultberg, T.J. Pugh, Joe Dean Sr.
As my colleague Jeffrey Marx commented, “The Mount Rushmore of LSU basketball is coming to life.”
Also walking in: LSU players Johnny O’Bryant III, Ralston Turner, John Isaac, Andre Stringer and Jalen Courtney.
1:03 p.m. — LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva leads off the presser.
He assures the media “it was a national search.”
Also, Alleva says he’s been watching Johnny Jones diligently — his games and press conferences — since he first interviewed him four years ago, the last time the job was open.
Alleva continued, saying Friday at 4:45 p.m., when he offered Jones the job on the phone, was an unforgettable experience.
“It was absolutely the best phone call I’ve ever had. It was special.”
1:06 p.m. — Johnny Jones takes the podium and immediately begins to thank everyone in the room, from Dale Brown to Joe Dean Sr., to T.J. Moran to Les Miles and Paul Mainieri.
He also mentioned his mother, remarking she’s “made this drive many a time over the years.”
Jones then said he met with the team last night. He made it clear that they are part of what he wants to build going forward. “This is not about a transition period or wait until I get my guys. You are my guys.”
1:12 p.m. — Jones spoke about bringing back the “excitement,” the “passion” of the “glory days” back in the eighties.
“Just showing up’s not going to be good enough. It’s about winning,” Jones said, recalling what he told the LSU players last night. “That’s the mission that I will be on at LSU.”
On his team’s style of play: “It’s going to be exciting.
“We’re going to push it. It’s going to be organized and not just chaos … But we will play fast and play with a passion.
“It will be a style that my players enjoy playing and the fans will enjoy watching … And I tell you, you can win with it because we have.”
Jones then touted how many times North Texas led the conference or finished second in terms of scoring. His teams will play pressure defense and they will put points on the board, according to Jones.
1:16 p.m. — It was onto recruiting for Jones.
“We’ve got to make sure we blanket this state,” Jones noted, saying they will form and build relationships with high school and AAU coaches.
1:20 p.m. — Q & A begins.
Jones talked about the process of accepting the job Friday. He first spoke of his bond with Trent Johnson, one that’s grown in the past few years, before saying that it was a “nerve-wrecking” week.
He said Alleva first contacted him on Monday and that there wasn’t too much contact between then and Thursday, when Alleva said LSU would make a hire by Friday at 5 p.m.
At about that time on Friday, Alleva called and asked, “How you doing?” Jones said he answered, “I don’t know … It depends on what you’re about to tell me.”
When Alleva offered, Jones said he went nuts. On his wife, Jones said, “She gave me a hug like it was our wedding night.”
Pretty funny stuff from Jones, who is definitely enjoying his big day. Ditto for the LSU basketball luminaries in the audience.
1:26 p.m. — Onto recruiting and assistants for Jones.
He said he’s been out recruiting, trying to get some more players on board. Jones also indicated he visited John Curtis’ Malik Morgan over the weekend, fortifying that relationship with the LSU signee.
I then asked Jones about LSU’s current players staying on board, and he said “I’m hopeful” that all of them will be back and join his team’s “family atmosphere.”
Jones said he met with the guys for an hour last night, and at that point he let them know that everyone coming back needed to be “all in.”
He gave no defined timeline as to these players making the decision to stay or leave, but he did say they all have business to take care of with classes through May.
Ending the thread, Jones reiterated he’s “hopeful” all of the players will come back.
1:35 p.m. — Jones was asked about his career and making his own mark separate from Dale Brown.
“I think my body of work … I think I’ve put my own mark out there. And my thing here is I’d like to come back and put my own stamp on the LSU basketball program,” Jones explained.
He then acknowledged that he “can’t redo” things here like Brown did.
But he did admit there’s a lot he’s learned from Brown that has “helped him excel as a basketball coach.” Jones said the biggest thing he took from Brown is making sure the players know how much you care about them.
2:10 p.m. — After Jones’ turn at the podium was over, the room turned into a madhouse with individual and group interviews going on with former players, current players, athletic administrators and, of course, Jones himself.
Here were some of the highlights:
- Johnny O’Bryant III said, “I’m definitely coming back next year.” On top of that both O’Bryant and Stringer said that Anthony Hickey has said he’s coming back, too.
- Joe Alleva indicated LSU seriously considered about “four or five” candidates during this process.
- Johnny Jones said ideally he would like to bring in four or five additional players in this late signing period, but that each player would have to fit the right mold.
- Mum is still the word on assistant coach hires, but Jones has made it clear he wants to see how the situation at North Texas plays out. Depending on that, he may end up bringing at least one of his former assistants along to Baton Rouge.
Editor Ben Love is Tiger Rag’s lead reporter on LSU men’s basketball. Reach him at email@example.com.