Even though his team has been a bit of train wreck this season, there’s no denying that LSU’s Ben Simmons is one of the best players in the country. Simmons is the story headed in to tomorrow night’s game in Baton Rouge, and John Calipari had nothing but praise 6’10” “point forward” from Australia.
“They’ve got one of the best players in the country who can beat you ten different ways,” Calipari said of Simmons. “It’s going to be a real challenge for this young team to go on the road in that environment. I’m anxious to see how we respond.”
Simmons had 36 points and 14 rebounds in LSU’s big win over Vandy at Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday, which, interestingly, Johnny Jones said is only the third real road game in his career.
“It’s unique for him, he’s certainly an exceptional player. I think it may be the third game in his career that he’s played on an opponent’s home floor because did not do that in high school,” Jones said. “For him to be able to perform on that stage at that level against a team of the caliber, I think says a lot about Ben, his awareness and his abilities.”
How do you shut down Simmons? Calipari said there are two ways to approach it.
“We’ve got to be who we are and maybe make them change, but you better have a game plan A and B against him because he can go for 40. He is a 6’9″ point guard-ish guy that will go inside, score next to the basket, makes free throws so you can’t foul him, and in transition, when he brings it up, he’s a great playmaker.”
“But they’ve got guards that can really shoot the ball,” Cal added. “They have veteran guards who play off of him and do really good too. So, if you think, let’s just stop him, those other guys will get you for 30. They have a guard averaging 18-19 a game. It’s not like, ‘Okay, let’s not worry about anybody else and just him.’ You can’t play that way against him.”
Personally, I think you rotate guys on him and hope for the best. Like Dan Patrick used to say, you’re not going to completely shut down Simmons, you can only hope to contain him.