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Saturday, March 31, 2007


If you look at ESPN.com's list of women's basketball "experts'' and their picks for the Final Four, you will see LSU is not getting a lot of respect.

Nancy Lieberman is the only "expert'' picking LSU to beat Rutgers. And even she has LSU losing to the Tennessee Lady Vols in the national title game.

Now, I am a little surprised about these experts going with Rutgers. I know Rutgers had a nice run in the tournament and beating Duke is a nice accomplishment. But I think Sylvia Fowles will be too tough for Rutgers.

That being said, I can see how folks would be scared off of LSU. Better LSU teams than this have gone to the Women's Final Four and fallen on their collective face.

As for losing to Tennessee in the finals, it should be pointed out that those teams are 1-1 against each other this season with LSU winning the last meeting.

LSU has gone under the radar for the most part in the tournament. It looks like that will continue this weekend.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Enough about Pokey

OK, I admit it. I was mildly curious when Pokey Chatman resigned earlier this month. And as the details came out, I was mildly surprised.

But it's been three weeks.

And yet, the national media keeps pounding away. Some of which are getting the story completely wrong.

The allegations against Chatman were not just of improper relationships with former players. The allegations were of improper relationships with former players while members of the LSU team. The coach-player relationship is similar to the professor-student, manager-subordinate type of roles.

Still, the LSU team's remarkable run is overshadowed by something that happened three weeks ago. The story has been beat to death locally and it appears it is headed that way nationally.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Looking up to Les

I'll be the first person to admit to not being a big Les Miles fan. (That Tennessee game in 2005 is hard to overcome.)

However, Miles must be thought of rather highly in the coaching fraternity.

The Sporting News reports this week that Penn State coach Joe Paterno went to LSU this offseason to visit with Miles and his staff to discuss how they used quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

It seems Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli (6-4, 232) also has a big arm as well as big size. So the Nittany Lions were interested in seeing what they could get from LSU that would help Morelli in the coming year.

So maybe I need to give Miles a little less criticism and a little more love. If he's good enough for JoePa he ought to be good enough for me and the other skeptics.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Starkey's hunch

You've got to say this for Bob Starkey, he's not backing off from his statements saying he doesn't want to be the head women's coach at LSU.

He was asked again today in a conference call with national media. And again, he said he prefers to be an assistant coach. He said he knows his limitations. He said LSU deserves a more worthy candidate.

Geeze, it almost sounds un-American. An assistant coach not wanting to move up. Heck, an assistant not wanting a bigger bonus?

It will be interesting to see if this changes. But Starkey could be the first coach to win a national championship and then go to the unemployment line.

Hopefully, he knows what he's doing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Shaq's take

You knew someone would get Shaquille O'Neal to weigh in on the LSU women's basketball coaching situation. I mean, considering O'Neal was playing at LSU when Bob Starkey was an assistant, it was pretty obvious.

Well, the AP got O'Neal to talk about Starkey today.

"Good guy, very knowledgeable of the game, been around a long time,'' O'Neal told the AP. "It's kind of different how he got the job...''

Kind of different? Ya think?

Back to Shaq, "But he really deserves it. So hopefully they give him the contract he deserves.''

To his credit, O'Neal has kept up with his alma mater.

"They can play, especially the big girl, Sylvia (Fowles),'' O'Neal said. "She's a WNBA player. She's good. They've always been good, they've always been focused, they've always been one of the top teams with UConn and Tennessee. They're right there and I hope they get over the hump this time.''

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hire Starkey and don't look back

Hire Bob Starkey now!

LSU athletic director Skip Bertman's search for a new women's basketball coach should not have to exceed the elevator ride from his office in the LSU administration building to Bob Starkey's.

LSU has looked impressive in reaching its three previous Final Fours, but it never looked this good. It never beat the No. 1 seed to get there. Make that humiliated the No. 1 seed to get there.

And make sure you remember that No. 1 seed was Connecticut - the big bad wolf of the women's college basketball world.

The Lady Tigers of interim coach Bob Starkey looked like classic UConn itself in rolling UConn and the game's best coach - Geno Auriemma - 73-50 in the championship game of the Fresno Regional Monday night in Fresno, Calif.

Auriemma, who is usually one of the more animated coaches in either the men's or women's game, was subdued the whole game. He knew he was beat. LSU, showing much more emotion and energy than its opponent, took a quick, big lead early, and that was it. The mighty UConn never threatened.

Since the LSU women are 0-3 in Final Fours and this was the highest seed LSU has defeated to get to a Final Four, this might have been the Lady Tigers' finest hour.

For goodness sake, they hit 7-of-10 shots from 3-point range! This was the women. Center Sylvia Fowles toyed with the kingpin of the women's game like it was a first round directional school. She blocked six shots.

The Lady Tigers looked awesome under former coach Pokey Chatman as well in going to Final Fours the previous three years, but those teams had more talent than this one. They had Seimone Augustus and Temeka Johnson.

There's something about this offense since Starkey took over. In the four games Starkey has coached, LSU has shot 45 percent or better from 3-point range three times - 70 percent against UConn, 45 percent (5-of-11) against Florida State and 50 percent (9-of-18) against North Carolina-Asheville.

In the last 14 games coached by Chatman before her strange resignation just before the NCAA Tournament, LSU shot 38 percent or worse from 3-point range 13 times, including 16 percent or worse from beyond the arc four times.

Something's up. The spacing is better. The passing is better. The flow is better. Yes, the coaching is better. Admit it.

OK, this could all be circumstantial. Yes, Starkey was the X and O technician while Chatman was the head coach, so why wasn't he doing it then? But we all know that head coaches hold back their assistants somewhat. At any rate, Starkey is clearly doing something right.

Chatman lost seven games with this team. It was prone to offensive lapses and was often unable to get a basket when it really needed one. Starkey's Machine scores in bunches and when it needs to - like in the final moments of a close game against West Virginia.

But again, Chatman looked good through the regional finals, too. Now we will get to see what Starkey is really made of. Can he become the first coach in LSU basketball history - men or women - to win a Final Four game?

Chatman went 0-3. Dale Brown went 0-3. John Brady is 0-1. Harry Rabenhorst went 0-1.

We've heard Starkey doesn't want to be anything but an assistant coach. He doesn't like to recruit. So what. Make him an offer. Tell him you'll help him find someone who can recruit like Pokey Chatman, but not Pokey Chatman. Starkey doesn't have a college degree. So what.

He could get one before his next game at one of these degree factories male players have been using for years.

What's a degree in coaching anyway? Curley Hallman had one. Was he a good coach? Chatman has a degree. It apparently didn't teach her anything about the sanctity of the coach-player relationship.

But if you insist, tell Starkey to start taking courses over the summer. He did attend college at Marshall University. He's not much more than a year away. And he majored in Journalism. How hard is that degree?

Starkey obviously knows a lot about coaching and motivation. Hire him Skip. Then give him an honorary degree. He's two wins away from erasing one of the most embarrassing episodes in LSU history.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Look for Fun 'N' Gun

New offensive coordinator Gary Crowton needs to write a thank you note to former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher for making a lateral move at best to Florida State.

Yes, LSU is minus one spectacular quarterback in JaMarcus Russell and two excellent receivers in Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, but Crowton never had this kind of talent at Oregon, Brigham Young, Louisiana Tech or even at Snow College.

As good and consistent an offensive coordinator as Fisher was despite different quarterbacks nearly every season, I think we might see more fireworks out of Crowton with the talent at his disposal.

Matt Flynn is an inexperienced quarterback in games played and pressure situations played, but he's a senior who has played in spots and showed that he's ready to play in Saturday's spring game against a pretty good defense. LSU is still loaded at receiver, too, even though it's inexperienced at the moment. Trindon Holliday will be all over the field from various starting points.

The offensive line, particularly with blocking tight end Keith Zinger back, looks better than last year as does the backfield with Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy, who could be LSU's first game breaking tailback since Justin Vincent was a freshman in 2003.

Crowton seems like a kid in a candy store and he is not shy. As good as Fisher was he grew too concerned with being balanced all the time. It's great to be balanced because that makes you unpredictable. But when you have JaMarcus Russell, why be balanced? Play to your strength. I bet you right now that NFL personnel all over the country are wondering why a quarterback with the freakish talent of Russell, who will be the No. 1 pick in the draft, has only two 300-yard passing games in his career?

Crowton's not going to worry about being balanced unless that's his best attack. Crowton's not going to hold anything back like Fisher and head coach Les Miles tended to hold Russell back. (Check Auburn game). If no one covers wide receiver Early Doucet, he'll keep going to Doucet as he did in the spring game. But he'll try a lot of different things too - the option, Holliday, Murphy, Williams, two quarterbacks.

It's going to be a very interesting season offensively for LSU.

What about Bob?

Monday's night game against Connecticut will be the biggest in Bob Starkey's short head coaching career for a couple of reasons.

Win it and the Lady Tigers are back in the Final Four for a fourth consecutive year.

Win it and you have to take Starkey as a serious candidate for the job, don't you?

I mean, LSU elevated Pokey Chatman for accomplishing the same feat. And Starkey would have a win over UConn on the wall.

But lose it and Starkey isn't nearly as strong a candidate. Let's face it, the teams LSU has beaten to get to this point haven't been strong. Heck, Connecticut is the first single-digit seed for the Lady Tigers to play in the tournament this year. There just isn't much credit to hand out for the first three wins in the tournament.

So tomorrow night's game is a little bigger than most regional finals for LSU.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The trouble with closed practices

Fans generally think the media is whining when there are complaints about a coach closing practice.

And in some cases, that's probably so.

But here is the problem, particularly with a football coach closing practice.

I take you back to 1991. New LSU coach Curley Hallman decides closing practices is the way to go.

So that August, we get all of these releases from LSU's sports information office about how good Chad Loup is looking at quarterback. You know, "Loup was 14-of-18 passing today.'' And so, with practices closed, you are left to report what you are told. And the fans are left to believe that, wow, Chad Loup is looking good.

Nothing against Chad Loup, but the Tigers struggled mightily that year -- really all four years -- under Hallman.

The closed practices did no one any favors.

I bring this up now because we have been told for a month how Ryan Perrilloux was pushing Matt Flynn for the starting quarterback job.

Perrilloux may indeed push him for the starting job. But not right now. Perrilloux was 8-of-23 passing with fans in the stands on Saturday.

That's not exactly what many had been led to believe.

I realize one man's objections won't change a coach's philosophy. But the point is that all of these "scrimmage stats'' released by the school should be taken with a skeptical view.

Friday, March 23, 2007


So much for the start to "Super'' Tiger weekend.

A 16-2 thumping at the hands of Kentucky --- Kentucky -- has got to have LSU baseball fans going for the scissors to their Smoke Laval vodoo doll.

John Cohen has done a tremendous job turning Kentucky around. But 16-2?

I realize it's baseball. And LSU could still win the next two and win the series. But 14-run losses to young teams usually aren't good for confidence.

It will be interesting to see how the Tigers respond on Saturday.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Little help

A lot of has been made about LSU's bullpen woes. But the Tigers aren't exactly the '27 Yankees at the plate if you know what I mean.

But you've got to like coach Paul Mainieri's standards of accountability.

Check out what Mainieri said to our Glenn Guilbeau: "Some of the veterans have to step up. We're going to have to play a lot better to beat Kentucky this weekend.''

Mainieri doesn't mince words.

He looks at Steven Waguespack's .203 batting average, J.T. Wise's .243 average and Michael Hollander's .253 average and knows they aren't getting it done.

"We need more production from those guys,'' Mainieri said.

Get production from those guys and LSU can be a better team in a rebuilding season. Not and it will be a long season.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Bye bye Baby

So Glen "Big Baby Davis'' is leaving LSU for the NBA.

There's no shock there.

Only mildly surprising was the news that Davis has an agent.

“Over the last week, I have interviewed with a select group of agents and met with Coach (John) Brady to help make my decision. Today, I am formally announcing that I will be giving up my remaining year of eligibility and will sign with John Hamilton of Performance Sports Inc. for early entry into the NBA Draft,'' Davis said today.

Signing with an agent means Davis is out of LSU early just like Tyrus Thomas and Brandon Bass and Stromile Swift before him.

Davis addressed the reason why he will have an agent.

"I feel it is critical for me to have an agent with me to prepare for the pre-draft evaluation process,'' Davis said. "The process has been moved up by the NBA to late May. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the challenge.''

The bigger question for LSU fans is how they will replace Davis.

While some thought LSU played better without Davis this year, that idea was crazy.

LSU will need some new stars next year. As it is, don't look for the Tigers to be a preseason pick to win the SEC West next year.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Close call

What do you make of LSU's 49-43 win over West Virginia tonight in the NCAA women's tournament?

Is LSU really 33 points worse than it was when the Lady Tigers opened the season with a 64-25 win over West Virginia?

Is the Pokey Chatman saga fallout beginning to affect the team?

We won't know. What we do know is this is the wobbliest LSU women's team in an NCAA Tournament in recent year.

If LSU gets to the Final Four this year it will be a major accomplishment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bullpen blues

LSU lost at South Carolina today, 9-5.

That LSU lost two out of three to a top-10 South Carolina team is no shame.

But that LSU's bullpen blew up today is a major concern.

T.J. Forrest isn't going to be an innings eater - at least not this year as he recovers from elbow surgery. That being said, the bullpen will have to do a better job.

Look, this isn't a great LSU team. But there are enough positive signs for the future, whether it's Forrest on the mound or Jared Mitchell to think that that Paul Mainieri can turn this around quick.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

So far, so good

If the tumultous week was a problem, then it wasn't apparent for the LSU Lady Tigers basketball team.

In their first game under interim head coach Bob Starkey, the Lady Tigers methodically took out UNC Asheville 77-39.

That LSU held an opponent under 40 points speaks to the effort on the defensive end.

Now LSU gets a break in the second round. No. 11 seed West Virginia upset No. 6 seed Xavier. So the road to Fresno should be a little smoother on Monday night.

If LSU can win that one the Lady Tigers would then get another week to adjust to life without Pokey Chatman.

And if that's the case, then another Final Four might not be out of the question.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


OK, so LSU isn't in the NCAA Tournament.

But LSU's basketball fans at least have their self-respect. Check out this video from Texas A&M's road win over Kansas earlier this year.

Remember, the key word is "road'' win.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Coming through

LSU had its Pro Day today and JaMarcus Russell and his teammates came through it OK.

Russell's arm was impressive as always. But who knew he could run a 4.8 in the 40?

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe turned in 40 times of 4.49 and 4.40. Wide receiverCraig Davis was at 4.44 and 4.41.

Russell, though, was the reason for the NFL Network being there. He was the reason for more than 100 NFL personnel people being there.

If Les Miles is smart, then he should use footage of today's Pro Day with him on the road while recruiting. It is a rather impressive Pro Day for a school that hasn't often had players that could go in the top five of the NFL Draft.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


So Glen "Big Baby'' Davis hasn't decided on turning pro but he's leaning that way.

That's about as surprising as the sun coming up in the East, the New York Yankees leading Major League Baseball in spending and the federal government wasting taxpayer dollars.

Look, a year ago, there was some question whether Davis would return.

Now, not so much.

And, truth be told, I don't know that "Big Baby'' did anything to help his stock this year. He had a good year individually, though his team didn't.

But if he is indeed a late first-round or early second-round pick, then he could have done that last year.

So Davis leaving won't be a shock. And it shouldn't be to John Brady either. He should have been preparing for this moment since Davis' freshman year at LSU.

Something tells me he probably didn't.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'll have an order of humble pie

John Brady must just like living on the edge.

How else do you explain the LSU Tigers basketball team this year?

Brady gets his new contract after a Final Four year. The guy was actually considered for a couple of other jobs. But he stays in Baton Rouge.

For the first time since he has been at LSU he has job security. His team is ranked in the top five nationally in preseason.

Oh, about that job security, well, not so much anymore.

In a span of five months, Brady squandered all of his previous gains. His team finished last in the SEC West. It didn't make the NCAA Tournament. Heck, he didn't even make the NIT.

So LSU will go into the 2007-08 season where it seemingly has always been under Brady, with a coach on the hot seat again.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What a difference a ...

What a difference a day makes. In the space of 24 hours, the LSU men's basketball team went from what it was last year to what it was this year.

The Tigers shot 53 percent in a thrilling 76-67 overtime win over Tennessee Thursday night. The Tigers shot 32.8 percent in a deadening, 80-60 loss to Ole Miss Friday night.

Glen Davis scored 25 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 15 rebounds on Thursday night and looked like a true warrior. Davis scored six points on 1-of-8 shooting with seven rebounds on Friday night and looked like an overweight, middle-aged man.

Texas Tech transfer Terry Martin scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, on Thursday night and made you wonder where Bobby Knight went wrong. Martin scored five points on 2-of-12 shooting, including 0-of-8 from 3-point range, on Friday night and made you realize Bobby Knight may have been right.

LSU made 11-of-22 field goals in the first half Thursday night. LSU made 4-of-29 field goals in the first half Friday night.

LSU missed 17 straight shots Friday night. That is hard to do.

LSU coach John Brady, who is one of the better defensive coaches around but usually does not have very high scoring offenses, has seen a lot of bad offense in his 10 years as LSU's coach. His team scored 10 points in a first half against Ole Miss three years ago. But he's never seen anything like what he saw Friday night, and he didn't mind sharing his feelings.

"Let me see, I'm 52 years old, and I've been coaching since I was 21," he began. "So that's 31 years. I don't know if I've ever experienced a 20 minutes of basketball from an offensive standpoint that I saw tonight. I mean, we missed every shot imaginable - layups, open 3-pointers, good shots. You can't play as well as our team did 24 hours ago and then come out and offensively be almost anemic."

A year ago LSU flew into the NCAA Tournament as SEC champions and reached the Final Four. Sunday it may recieve a bid to the NIT, and it would be hard to believe if everyone on the team really wants to play in that. What a difference a year makes.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Help on the way?

I just got back from watching Austin Ross, an LSU signee from Captain Shreve, pitch tonight.

Now, granted, I caught him on a good night.

But if he throws the way he threw tonight, Paul Mainieri's rebuilding job may come a little quicker.


He threw a five-inning no-hitter against Ruston.

OK, I knew everybody Tom, Dick, and Boudreaux throws high school no hitters. But do they do it with only 50 pitches? Do they do it hitting 90 mph on the gun?

The most impressive thing to me is the fact that Ross knows how to pitch. He is not trying to strike out every batter he faces. He works ahead in counts and let's his defense work for him.

The only problem for LSU is there were a good half-dozen MLB scouts at the game.

One of them told me, "He's good. He's real good. He's a pitcher. He's not just throwing out there.''

If Mainieri can keep him, then I think Ross could help right away.

Babies grow up

Better enjoy it now, LSU fans. Because babies grow up, and then they leave.

Not since Shaquille O'Neal has a LSU men's basketball player dominated a game and delivered a win with his sheer force and will the way Glen "Big Baby" Davis did Wednesday night.

Davis scored 25 points, including 22 in the second half and seven in overtime, to take the sixth-seeded Tigers over the No. 22 and third-seeded Tennessee Volunteers, 76-67, at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Atlanta.

Don't blow it, LSU fans. Watch this guy play tonight and enjoy it. Because it could be one of his last games. Don't do what you did with JaMarcus Russell. Don't wait until he's gone to realize how great he is.

Russell and Davis are two of the best players - not just athletes - players that LSU has had in any sport in decades. Yet, they're treated like they cause more problems than they win games. And all they do is win games.

LSU doesn't win that game without Davis. LSU doesn't win most of its 17 wins this season without Davis. LSU doesn't get to the Final Four last year without Davis. LSU doesn't win the SEC last year without Davis.

And LSU needed a basketball win last night with all the mystery and controversy suddenly surrounding the women's program. The men's season has been a controversy-riden ride as well with coach John Brady and some subservient media criticizing Davis for being a selfish ball hog.

Does 15 rebounds mean you're selfish? I guess he could've let somebody else get them.

Davis proved last night that he should be a ball hog. He's clearly the best player on the team. So get him the ball. LSU was not better without Davis. The players jealous of Davis just played better because they wanted the spotlight.

This so called new offense of LSU cracks me up. It's kind of like the Chicago Bulls offense with Michael Jordan - let's do something different without Jordan until it counts. This is what happened Saturday against South Carolina when Davis was somewhat ignored through most of the game. Then he personally outscored the Gamecocks 9-0 late in the game to deliver the win.

He did the same thing against Tennessee. He took only three shots in the first half. He knew his time would come.

LSU still has to win three games in three days, including tonight's 8:45 game against Ole Miss, to reach the NCAA Tournament. That's a disadvantage. But LSU is the only team in the field with Glen Davis. I like LSU's chances.

Enjoy the games and realize what you have in this Big Baby and are about to lose.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hokey Pokey


Give Pokey Chatman credit, she was only the head coach for three full seasons of the women's basketball team but she provided a couple of moments where LSU fans actually cared about women's basketball.

The first was the little tiff with Baylor coach Kim Mulkey. The second was today's shocking resignation.

Shocking? Yes. How else do you describe someone resigning just days before the NCAA Tournament field is announced so you can "pursue other opportunities'' when your name hasn't even been linked to other jobs?

Skip Bertman says there is no NCAA investigation, sanctions or probations coming down. And, of course, there are the rumors. Always the rumors.

So there you have it, two moments where Pokey made LSU fans sit up and pay attention.

Only one coach who could replace her could top that - Kim Mulkey.

Otherwise, LSU fans can likely go back to the way they were before Pokey Chatman took over.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Happy homecoming

Great story tonight at Fair Grounds Field.

LSU pitcher T.J. Forrest, who grew up in Benton and finished his high school career at Haughton, comes back home and makes his collegiate debut starting against Centenary.

He throws three shutout innings and is impressive in his LSU debut.

Now, I'm not ready to say he's the next Ben McDonald or Brett Laxton, but Forrest showed enough to give LSU fans a little bit of hope.

That being said, this is an offensively challenged team. And that is not a good thing going into the SEC.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Baseball's coming to Port City

I remember, oh a few years back, when an LSU visit to Shreveport to play baseball was a big thing.

But now you've got a mediocre LSU team against an equally (or more) mediocre team in Centenary.

And get this, tickets start at $15.

Fifteen bucks? For this garbage? You've got to be kidding me.

Look, I'm a guy who is willing to fork over $60 to sit in the bleachers at Wrigley or $80 for good seats at Fenway.

But $15-$25 to watch college baseball at Fair Grounds Field? No thank you.

When LSU was rolling and winning national championships, people might have paid that price. But - and here is a prediction - there won't be 4,000 at the game Tuesday night in Shreveport.

Better have a better product for those prices.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Good grief

What is it about former LSU football coaches taking credit from the players?

First, there was Nick Saban. During recruiting, he was taking credit for the success of the LSU program and the 22-4 record over the last two seasons. Saban certainly should be given credit for recruiting the vast majority of those players. But being in Miami for the last two years should prevent him from taking credit for the achievements of the last two seasons.

Now, former LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is doing some of the same things.

Fisher told the Tallahassee Democrat he thinks his departure from LSU to Florida State played a part in Russell's decision to leave Baton Rouge a year early for the NFL.


JaMarcus Russell was gone the moment the Superdome clock read 0:00 after the Sugar Bowl. He could have had Bill Walsh or Vince Lombardi for a position coach and it wouldn't affect that decision.

But it seems like with these guys it's always about the coaches and not the players.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Baby missed in big way

Well, well, well. Suddenly, it is apparent and obvious that the LSU basketball team is clearly better with Glen "Big Baby" Davis than without. As if it was really ever any other way.

Auburn, which has no regular player taller than 6-foot-7, attacked the Baby-less Tigers inside for an 80-68 victory Wednesday night in Auburn. LSU "center" Magnum Rolle, who "replaced" Davis in the lineup, had all of one rebound. Let me write that again. Magnum Rolle, a 6-foot-10 player whom LSU went all the way to the Bahamas to get, got one rebound in 21 minutes. I guess if Davis had played, he would have gotten all of no rebounds.

Josh Dollard, who is 6-7, scored 16 points with six rebounds for Auburn. Korvotney Barber, who is also 6-7, scored 14 points with eight rebounds. Combined, they hit 12-of-22 field goals.

Darnell Lazare, a 6-8 post player for LSU who has been consistently solid in a sea of inconsistent teammates other than Davis, scored eight points with eight rebounds. That was not enough.

No one can blame Davis for this loss. He didn't make the trip. Rolle and Lazare scored 17 points with nine rebounds combined. Davis is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game. Yeah, LSU's better without him. Yeah, the lane has more room ... for average to bad players to get beat.

Suddenly, that big win over Florida without Davis does not have so much luster. The slumping Gators lost by 10 at Tennessee on Tuesday night, too. That's three losses in four games.

Perhaps LSU would have beat Florida by 15 or 20 had Davis played.

Finally, this nonsense will end Saturday. The nonsense being LSU's season and the Davis bashing. Davis should return to the lineup Saturday when the Tigers close the regular season at home against South Carolina.

Davis has not been the greatest leader this season. He may have let his celebrity hurt his team.

But elite players like him often come with such baggage. He's still the best player on the team, and LSU should be better if Davis' up-and-down supporting cast can get it together and play with the emotion and skill it showed when he was gone. That would mean a win Saturday and at least some interesting games in the SEC Tournament next week, if not a run.