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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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TSU's Johnny Jones: "We look forward to Tigers' fans coming out and embracing our style of play."

September 26, 2018

Johnny Jones held his first basketball practice as Head Coach of Texas Southern University men's basketball Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday was the official start of the 2018-2019 NCAA men's basketball season for the Tigers. Coach Jones took a few minutes to discuss what he hopes to accomplish in practice, his coaching style, the Tigers' nonconference schedule, and a few more things for Tigers' fans to look for this season.

Here's the Q&A:

The HRR: What is the significance of today?

Coach Jones: Well, we're excited. It's the first official day of practice. Exciting time always for coaches and our players because we know the season is near.

November 6 - we have an opportunity to tip off; so, the first day of practice is always significant to us.

The HRR: How many guys will you have practicing today?

Coach Jones: We'll probably have 12 guys today. We've got a couple of guys that are injured and are out. We've got one with a class conflict; then, we'll have tryouts next week and, hopefully, we'll keep one of the guys from tryouts and get our team to about 15 members.

The HRR: What has been the response for the tryouts?

Coach Jones: I tell you people have been knocking on the doors, calling, emailing us because they're excited about the opportunity to possibly be a part of this basketball team. I think our students are really enthusiastic about the opportunity.

The HRR: You got here a few months ago. The guys have had the chance to work out with the weights. In that short time, how have things gone, in your eyes, with their conditioning?

Coach Jones: I think they're continuing to get better and better each day. Our strength and conditioning coach, Chris Seroka, has really come in and done a magnificent job with our guys. The guys have done a tremendous job of buying in. And, then the other assistant coaches have done a tremendous job with the individual skill work.

We've had four hours a week leading up until today to really work out with the guys -- a new rule that the NCAA implemented.

We're really excited about: one - the growth from that time to today to see how much we've progressed from those early workouts.

The HRR: What do you hope to accomplish in your first official day of practice?

Coach Jones: One, we're going to go a little bit longer. It will be more extended than we've had in the past. We're going to see, one, how the guys hold up and then see how much they've been able to retain over what we've done in the early sessions; and, then, see how going two and a half, three hours how much their retention level lasts because we know it's growing pains for us. But, we want to see where we are, especially, in this first practice.

The HRR: And, once again, let folks know the style of play you want to implement here at TSU.

Coach Jones: We're an up tempo style team. We're going to push the ball and play as fast as we possibly can. We, obviously, are going to be organized in doing so; and, at the same time, on the defensive end of the floor, we're going to create havoc - hopefully, opportunities where our defense is going to create scoring opportunities for our offense.

But, it's one fans are certainly going to love. Our players certainly like playing that way; and, as a coach, I really enjoy coaching that style.

The HRR: Mention the nonconference schedule. Who you got coming up?

Coach Jones: We've got a very tough nonconference schedule. Just to name a few: Gonzaga is going to be one of the top teams in the country this year been rated as high as number 2 in a lot of the polls. We've got Baylor as well. We'll start off with them from the Big 12 Conference. We've got Texas A&M from the SEC as well; and, then, we'll go out and play Arizona State. We'll play Oregon; so, we've got a very tough and demanding schedule just to name a few.

The HRR: But, you do have a few home games, correct?

Coach Jones: Absolutely. We've got two home games: Huston-Tillotson and we'll play Concordia here as well. And, that will be in kind of the middle of our schedule as well to give us a break from action of traveling on the road.

The HRR: But, going forward, you do hope to have more of a balance...

Coach Jones: Absolutely. We do go on the road and play Lamar University in Beaumont this year, December 19. We're hopeful to have them come back here and return that game to us next year. We're hopeful we'll start building that way where we'll have more home games; and, a home-and-home schedule with some common opponents that our fan base will enjoy. One, being able to travel to the games and watch us play there; and, at the same time, have an opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of being at home to come and watch and pull for their team here.

The HRR: And, one final thing, just encourage everyone to come see you guys play.

Coach Jones: We look forward to Tigers fans coming out and embracing our style of play. Coming out and really cheering these guys on. They're the difference-makers; so, we're looking forward to them coming, making a difference with this basketball team, this season.

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