LSU Tigers (3-0):
The early part of LSU’s schedule has not been too difficult for them. They have won each of their first three games by double digits and never faced too much adversity during this winning streak. The Tigers beat McNeese State, Kennesaw State and South Alabama so it is safe to say that the competition will pick up when LSU travels to Brooklyn.
This is the fourth season for Jones in Baton Rouge and the second, top five recruiting class that has played for him in his coaching career. His 61 victories over the first three years at LSU are more than any other coach in his first three years at the school. Jones is also the first coach in school history to take the program to the postseason twice during his tenure. Coach Jones played for the Tigers from 1980-84 and was an assistant from 1984-97 so this is his 21st year with the program in total.
The Names to Know
Courtesy of LSUSports.net
Simmons was the number one ranked high school player in America in last year’s recruiting class by just about every recruiting service. The Australian came to America three years ago and played his high school basketball at Montverde Academy in Florida. At Montverde, Simmons led his school to three straight National High School Championships.
In last year’s finals at Madison Square Garden, Simmons led Montverde to a win over number one ranked Oak Hill. He scored 20 points to go along with 11 boards and six assists and was named the MVP after pouring in 19.3 points and 11.7 rebounds on average over the three games during the National High School tournament. Montverde finished 30-1 that season. As a senior, Simmons averaged 28 points, 11.9 rebounds and four assists a game.
Simmons filled up his trophy case in high school as he was awarded with the Naismith National Boys Player of the Year, Morgan Wootten Award and Gatorade National Male Basketball Player of the Year. Of course, Simmons was a McDonald’s All-American and Jordan Brand Classic game selection too. The 6-foot-10 forward was on the World Select Team at the 2015 NIKE Hoops Summit in Portland, Oregon where he put up 13 points, nine boards and nine assists.
This season, through three games, Simmons has averaged 18.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists and has looked every bit as good as advertised. However, the competition at the Barclays Center will certainly be ramped up and the big men that Simmons will be facing are much more talented in the past three games. Simmons will be the main attraction in Brooklyn and we will see plenty of him during the Legends Classic.
Courtesy of SportingNews.com
LSU has a number of talented freshmen on their roster and Antonio Blakeney is a guard that many are really excited to see play in Brooklyn.
In high school, Blakeney played for a nationally-ranked Oak Ridge program where he averaged 29 points, 6.9 boards and 2.7 assists as a senior. The first game of his senior year, Blakeney scored 63 points.
How’s that for a performance in a season opener?
The guard was a prep All-American and the number three shooting guard in the ESPN Class of 2015 rankings. He was the 13th overall player on Rivals.com and ranked 19th by 24/7sports.com.
Blakeney was named the Class 8A Player of Year, Florida’s Mr. Basketball, Orlando Sentinel’s 2015 all-area Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-American. In the Jordan Brand Classic, Blakeney scored 14 points and four rebounds. Blakeney, along with Simmons, competed in the NIKE Academy in California. They were the only true freshmen invited to play.
During LSU’s Australia Tour, Blakeney was a star for the Tigers. The freshman started in four of the five games and averaged 29.2 minutes of playing time. Blakeney averaged 13.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and shot 41.5 percent from the field.
The 6-foot-4 guard is leading the Tigers in scoring so far this season with 19.3 points per game along with 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Many have been impressed with how the guard has played and his combination with Simmons will make the Tigers extremely tough to stop in Brooklyn.
The Style of Play
High-powered and fast offense:
The Tigers have athletes and speed all over the floor so they will look to push the ball in transition. LSU plans on getting quick buckets as much as possible so they can catch defenses sleeping and build big leads. Coach Jones certainly has the players and talent to install this offense, but the Tigers are still trying to get accustomed to it. However, the amount of talent could be enough to make up for the learning curve that his team is experiencing.
LSU faces a team in Marquette that also brings a talented recruiting class to the table in the first game of the classic. The Golden Eagles have some athletes on the floor too that are also trying to adjust to the college game. Both teams will be facing their toughest test of the season Monday night. One matchup you need to watch out for on offense is Ben Simmons vs. Henry Ellenson. It will be fun to watch to say the least.
Tiger’s defense will look to wear teams down:
LSU has plenty of length in the frontcourt, but also with certain guards so they are tough to break down in the half-court. The Tigers have seen solid overall defensively in their three wins whether they have played man-to-man or zone. Defensively, LSU will look to wear offenses down and shorten their number of possessions in the game. Through three-quarter-court presses and opportunities from buckets, the Tigers can also decrease the amount of time the other team has the ball. When their opponents get into the half-court, they can try and force turnovers that could also lead to baskets on the other end.
One Weakness that is worth noting…..
Lack of experience:
LSU has all of the talent in the world, but they still need to develop into a solid team at the college basketball level. Many players are still trying to adjust defensively to the college game and despite three straight wins, the Tigers have plenty to work on.
The Tigers have also not played the most talented teams in the world so far this season so their first real tests of the year will be at the Legends Classic. Will they be up for the challenge or struggle to adjust to more the talented squads they will face?
LSU may have the most talent entering the Legends Classic, but that certainly does not make them the favorites. This tournament looks to be anyone’s for the taking. One thing is for sure though, the Tigers will be fun to watch at the Barclays Center.
How to Watch LSU vs. Marquette
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: ESPN 540 (Marquette)
Live Stream: WatchESPN (Where available)