Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I watched LSU and came up wanting

Well I finally got a chance to see LSU tonight (albeit sans super-frosh Tyrus Thomas), as they eked out a win at South Carolina 64-61, and, well, I wasn't overly impressed. Here's what I liked and disliked about the 21-7 LSU Tigers.

- With all due respect to Tennessee's Chris Lofton, Glen "Big Baby" Davis is the SEC Player of the Year. He is a brute force down low, and he showed that with 24 and 10 tonight. As an added bonus, he has a move called the "Wilt Chamberneeze" (courtesy to whoever ESPN's sideline reporter was). Combine all of this with the fact that he has a cool nickname, and he is the SEC Player of the Year.

- I think LSU is susceptible to quick teams that can shoot the 3. In the post, they are extremely tough, but I think they can get beat on the break. South Carolina hit 10 3's tonight, and at least 25% of their total points came on the fast break. I also think LSU can be susceptible to teams that play a zone, because they don't shoot the ball that well from 3-point land. Coming in, they only had 3 people with at least 5 threes on the year, and only one that had at least 20 (Darrel Mitchell with 68). They were 5 of 13 tonight.

- After coming up with that formula to beat them, it dawned on me that they matched up with a team like that last year in the NCAA Tournament, when they fell to UAB 82-68. Maybe this doesn't mean anything, or that I'm still bitter because I picked LSU to the Sweet 16 last year, but I found it interesting.

- Let me add it's very possible that they are twice as good with Tyrus Thomas, who is averaging 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, but was out with a sprained ankle. All I know is, I don't think the LSU team is capable of making a deep tourney run. They'll probably be a 3 or 4 seed, so I don't see them falling in round 1, but I could definitely foresee a 2nd round loss. But another thing to keep in mind is that LSU is very young, with 7 freshmen. They have a very bright future.

- A final basketball note, props to ESPN Classic, which showed last year Arizona/Oklahoma St. tourney game, which was very good. Arizona won 79-78 on a shot from Salim Stoudemire, and I have to say I enjoyed watching it. Tomorrow afternoon they are showing last year's Louisville/West Virginia Elite Eight game, which was extremely entertaining, but I have to work, which is unfortunate.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Man, I thought Davis was The Diesel himself, for a second. He's putting the hurt on whoever is under him. Look at the dude's expression. Auugh!

-Spute

Pradamaster said...

I agree with most of these points after watching that same game. As much as having Tyrus Thomas in the lineup probably helps, he still doesn't solve the biggest problems for LSU that you discussed: guard play and 3-point shooting. Those will continue to be LSU's weaknesses, and they are exploitable by teams with good guards, as Florida, Houston, and Ohio State have shown this year.

That being said, comparisons to last year's team probably shouldn't be made. This team is much better equipped to make a deeper NCAA run. Last year, LSU lost all 4 conference games on the road, including losses to non-NCAA teams Tennesse (by 22) and Arkansas. They also lost at Southern Miss and at Houston (which ends up being a wash anyway since they lost to Houston this year too.) Since their close losses on the road to Ohio State and Uconn in non-conference, LSU has passed almost every road test given to them this year. Their only road losses in conference are to Florida and Alabama, giving them a 6-2 mark in conference road games (as compared to 4-4 last year). Even with so-so guards, LSU has been tough enough to win close road games this year, which they weren't able to do last year.

It also helps that there are no teams that play LSU's style that are around the 6 and 11 range in most bracketologies right now (with the possible exception of Marquette).

It remains to be seen, but I'd say that LSU is not as vulnerable as you think.

twins15 said...

Prada, thanks for the comment.

You make a good point about LSU being much better on the road this year than last year. Even though LSU is extremely young, they definitely displayed a lot of maturity. Down 6 at half and in a tight one throughout, they didn't make a lot of mistakes.

Also a good point about the seeds. I thought West Virginia would be a bad matchup because of their style of play (although LSU did beat them), but they look like they'll have a higher seed. Right now Joe Lunardi has LSU as a 3 seed, with a potential matchup with NC State/Syracuse. Of course, those have nothing to do with what would happen, but either of those would be an interesting matchup.

In the end, you're probably right, and I probably was a little harsh. Although in my defense, I came in thinking LSU might be a sleeper Final Four team if they got the right matchups, and I didn't really come away with the same thoughts. At this point LSU looks like a Sweet 16 team although a loss in round 2 wouldn't shock me.

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