The LSU men’s basketball team continued their preseason preparations Tuesday afternoon after opening fall practice late last week.

With three seniors to lead a list of seven returning letter-winners, coach Trent Johnson said the Tigers have had the luxury of jumping into their 2011-12 workouts head-first.

Last year, LSU fielded one of the nation’s youngest teams.

“We’re moving at a faster rate than we have the previous three years just because there’s a nucleus of guys that are juniors and seniors and sophomores that have been through it,” Johnson said. “We’re moving along at a pretty good pace right now.”

Johnson inherited a veteran squad four seasons ago, but he had to get that group acclimated to his way of doing things.

“We’re moving faster than any year I’ve been here,” Johnson said.

Johnny O’Bryant, Anthony Hickey and John Isaac are three freshmen getting their first taste of college basketball. All three are expected to make immediate contributions.

Isaac missed Tuesday’s practice because of an Achilles’ injury, but Johnson said he expects the former Pickering High standout to return soon.

Johnson’s team opens the season Nov. 12 against Nicholls State, part of the second-ever basketball-football doubleheader on the LSU campus.

“Until you start playing people, the No. 1 thing for me is to make sure everybody understands their role, everybody does their job, comes out every day and competes like the dickens on every single possession, and we remain healthy,” he said. “It’s a grind from here to there. The way we’re going guard, the way we’re going to play, there’s going to be a premium on being in great shape. We’re going to push like we’ve never pushed before.”

Hamilton rising

Justin Hamilton was listed at 6-foot-11 in his two seasons at Iowa State and then again at LSU last year. He is listed at 7-foot even this year.

When he found himself closer to eye level with 7-2 walk-on Andrew Del Piero, Hamilton said he had a feeling he had hit a minor growth spurt.

He said part of the credit goes to LSU’s strength and conditioning staff.

“I noticed I was getting bigger and taller,” Hamilton said. “I think coming down here, the strength program really helped in developing my body and I grew a little bit more.”

Hamilton is the first 7-foot scholarship player LSU has had since Geert Hammink, a Didam, Netherlands, native who played for Dale Brown in the early 1990s.

The junior turned 21 in April.

Catching up with Nunez

Eddie Nunez, LSU’s senior associate athletics director for internal operations and project development, is the subject of the SEC Digital Network’s most recent “Where are they now?” feature. Sean Cartell takes a look back at Nunez’s days as a basketball player at the University of Florida, where he helped break in the Billy Donovan era, and how it helped shape his future in administration.

“I think having been a student-athlete in the SEC is a tremendous asset to me and to my opportunity of working with coaches,” Nunez said. “I’ve seen it from their perspective, and I understand the expectations, not just with their coaches, fans and administration, but I also understand the day-to-day responsibilities of going to class and working toward a degree as a student-athlete.”

Visit www.secdigitalnetwork.com to view the article.

Driving the message home

In an effort to promote the school’s basketball programs, LSU has partnered with adverCar, a New Orleans-based advertising company that matches everyday drivers with companies that want to promote their brands. The partnership allows LSU fans to promote the school’s basketball teams while earning extra income.

To qualify, drivers have to live, work or commute within targeted zip codes throughout Baton Rouge as well as drive newer model Chevrolets.

“We view adverCar as a valuable extension to our media mix,” said Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for university relations and senior associate athletic director. “We are able to reach neighborhoods and zip codes where billboards aren’t available. It’s a great way to not only get our message out, but also get fans excited about the upcoming basketball season.”

To learn more, visit www.LSUsports.net.