Men's hoops: Tigers look to small ball

BATON ROUGE -- If you are waiting for a last-minute arrival of a mystery big man for LSU's men's basketball team, don't bother.

Head coach Johnny Jones said Friday in an exclusive interview with GeauxTigerNation he's counting on what will probably be an 11-man roster for the 2012-2013 season made up primarily of guards. There are 10 players currently on the roster and, though Jones would not confirm it, it is believed former Memphis guard Charles Carmouche might be the 11th player.

Memphis coach Josh Pastner has said he expects Carmouche, a New Orleans native who graduated from Memphis in May and is looking for another school where he can enroll in graduate school and play as a senior, to transfer to LSU.

Jones confirmed that LSU is working on adding a guard, but would not specify that it's Carmouche, saying, "We are waiting for the [SEC] office to make a ruling on a young man we are hoping can possibly transfer in and be able to play right away. If that should happen, it should give us some depth in the perimeter."

Carmouche, a 6-foot-3 wing who started his career at the University of New Orleans before transferring to Memphis, averaged 7.9 points per game as a junior but had his senior season cut short because of severe tendinitis in his knees. He was granted a medical waiver by the NCAA.

With Carmouche, LSU would have seven guards and wings. The numbers are much thinner inside.

LSU announced Monday that junior college transfers Calvin Godfrey would not be eligible to play for the Tigers, leaving sophomore Johnny O'Bryant the only true scholarship big man. LSU also has 6-9 senior Eddie Ludwig and 6-8 junior Jalen Courtney, but they both might be deemed "face-up" fours with perimeter-oriented offensive games. Jones said 7-2 senior walk-on Andrew del Piero, who has played sparingly in two years, has been granted a scholarship.

Jones said it's too late to replace Godfrey, a rugged 6-8 forward who figured to start next to O'Bryant inside.

"I think it's really difficult this late in the game to find someone who would have an opportunity to come in and make an impact," Jones said. "To me, with how important recruiting is, the number of players that will be out there who can come in and make an impact on our team, we have to be careful not to try to patch up our team and utilize scholarships that we would be much better off saving for next year."

LSU will have five scholarships to give for 2013 in a year when there is deep talent available in Louisiana and Texas, where Jones has strong recruiting ties from his days as head coach at North Texas.

So, expect LSU to play small ball this season. O'Bryant will likely be the one true big man surrounded by four guards or, he could play in tandem with Ludwig or Courtney. Either way, the plethora of Tigers guards will play a lot of minutes and look for bigger guards like 6-6 junior college transfer Shavon Coleman, 6-6 freshman Shane Hammink and long-armed 6-4 freshman Malik Morgan to try to give big men matchup problems with their perimeter skills.

"We feel we will be very strong on the perimeter," Jones said. The example of last year's small, but successful Missouri team might be a model for the Tigers. Jones brought up another example: Rick Pitino's early Kentucky teams.

"They were able to press, up-tempo style, and create havoc for people with full-court pressure and a more up-tempo type game," Jones said. "I think that will be something that will probably be more beneficial to us."