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Monday, January 22, 2007

Far from the Final Four

LSU barely resembles the team that went to the Final Four last season. In the Tigers' last three road games, it was evident early on they were not going to win ... or even stay close.

LSU looked like just another average SEC team in losses at Washington (88-72), at Alabama (71-61) and, most recently, at Arkansas (72-52).

The loss of power forward Tyrus Thomas is just too great for this team to get past the Sweet 16 at best. Magnum Rolle and Darnell Lazare are barely SEC players, much less replacements for Thomas.

The loss of Thomas has greatly hurt the game of Glen Davis, who has no wing man. I'm also beginning to wonder if the fat Baby was better than the slim Baby. Washington and Arkansas, in particular, destroyed LSU inside. Throughout the loss to Arkansas as center Steven Hill made 8-of-10 close range shots - mostly dunks - one question begged to be answered. Who's man is that? Hill scored a career-high 16 points and barely worked up a sweat.

This was an embarrassing loss, because Arkansas is not even that good. It had lost three straight coming in.

A trip to the Final Four is great, but its merit is often overrated when it comes to recruiting.

LSU did not cash in on the trip as it has one incoming freshman on this team - walk-on Greg Terrebonne of South Lafourche High in Galiano. He doesn't play. One would think LSU would have been able to find a decent power forward to play next to Davis.

LSU is better at guard this season with transfer guard Terry Martin, who is quite a 3-point shooter most of the time, and steady Garrett Temple, who is better at point guard than he was at shooting guard. Dameon Mason is also an athletic guard, but he can't shoot very well.

Coach John Brady needs to bite the bullet and move Tasmin Mitchell to power forward immediately and permanently and put Mason at the small forward. Mitchell's the closest thing LSU has to Tyrus Thomas.

If something does not improve fast, LSU can quit thinking about how far it may or may not go in the NCAA Tournament and start worrying if it is an SEC West contender.


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