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Monday, March 31, 2008

Chancellor deserves it

NEW ORLEANS - Four times he has been in this game. Four times he has lost it.

LSU women's basketball coach Van Chancellor, winner of four WNBA titles, will try for a fifth time to reach the Final Four tonight when the No. 2 seed Lady Tigers play No. 1 seed North Carolina. Four times, Chancellor took Ole Miss to this elite eight round. He lost by four to Western Kentucky in 1985 and by three to Texas in 1986. Both of those games were on the winning team's home court back before the women's tournament started playing its later rounds on neutral sites.

Chancellor could well lose a close game tonight. North Carolina is very good and patterns itself after the men's team - run up and down the floor and use a lot of players. LSU center Sylvia Fowles has shown a tendency to be average in big games. If that happens, LSU will be in trouble. North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell is playing for her third straight Final Four. She won the national championship for the Tar Heels in 1994 over Louisiana Tech.

Maybe this time, it's Chancellor's turn. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Chancellor has repeatedly said all he had to do this year was not mess it up. He inherited a team with five senior starters who have all been to the last three Final Fours. He knows he inherited a gold mine. He knows these are not his players. He knows they all signed under the Nick Saban regime.

Just kidding.

"This is not a burning, yearning deal with me," Chancellor said, but do not believe him. After all, he is a coach.

It is exactly a burning, yearning deal with him. Number one, Chancellor has never made it to the Final Four and is a better coach than many who have. Number two, he inherited a senior-laden team that went to three Final Fours - twice under interim coaches and once under a coach in her first full year. How could he not go?

North Carolina is better than the four previous teams LSU beat in the Elite Eight - Georgia in 2004, Duke in 2005, Stanford in 2006 and Connecticut in 2007.

"For me personally, if it happens, it would be great," Chancellor said.

But he is not made the players feel as if he has to have it.

"We've been in this position a few times before," Fowles said. "Just to hear him say we can go out there and have fun and play the game relieves a lot of pressure."

Fowles had a steely look in her eyes when asked about another possible scoring dryspell like her 0-for-7 to start the game Saturday against Oklahoma State.

"We haven't discussed that issue yet because I don't think it's going to be that bad," she said. "I won't have that problem."

That and the basketball gods could get answer Chancellor's burning yearning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Will he or won't he?

Soon, we will know. Word is that suspended LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux will be back at practice on Wednesday afternoon when the Tigers return to spring drills after spring break.

Of course, word was he was going to be back two weeks ago when the team was finishing the first half of spring practice. We shall see.

As I have said on several occasions, I do not feel LSU coach Les Miles should let Perrilloux return to the team. Unfortunately, Miles' hands are tied as far as his depth chart is concerned. Because Miles and his staff have not signed more quarterbacks in recent years, there is not much there if Jarrett Lee would get injured. Lee, a redshirt freshman who is as promising as Matt Flynn was as a redshirt freshman, would be the starter if Perrilloux does not return. After Lee, there is only Andrew Hatch, a Harvard transfer and former walk-on who does not look to be Southeastern Conference material. There is also walkon T.C. McCartney, who is not ready either.

The only other quarterback is February signee Jordan Jefferson of Destrehan High School. So Miles does not have the players on hand to be able to withstand kicking off Perrilloux off. There were enough tailbacks around last year when Miles kicked tailback Alley Broussard off the team, and Broussard did not mess up as much as Perrilloux has.

Going into a season with only Lee and Jefferson at quarterback would be very shaky.

Going into a season with Perrilloux and his track record would also be shaky.

If Perrilloux is brought back, his next mistake could happen in the middle of the 2008 season. But perhaps Miles is thinking if that happens and he has to kick him off then, at least he will have had him for part of the season while getting the other quarterbacks ready.

It's amazing the questions around the LSU athletic department these days. At the moment, LSU does not have a permanent athletic director, chancellor, men's basketball coach or quarterback, not necessarily in that order of importance.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Big win

It's hard to say the second series of the SEC baseball schedule is big, but after losing four of its first five games, it's safe to say today's game with Arkansas was big.

The Tigers needed to win the series. They didn't need to be 1-5 and trying to climb out of that hole.

As it is LSU probably got what it deserved over the weekend -- two wins in three games.

There is a lot of baseball left to be played but at least the Tigers aren't looking at a mountain to climb.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Perrilloux fan

While it seems hard to find a Ryan Perrilloux fan these days, the oft-suspended quarterback has one in former LSU teammate Jacob Hester.

Hester, in Bossier City for an autograph signing today, gave his support to Perrilloux.

"I think it will work itself out,'' Hester said of the suspension. "Ryan, he's a good guy. He made a couple of bad choices, but he's a good, genuine guy. He'll bounce back. He's doing the right things right now to get back on the field and once he does, he'll be the leader of the team.''

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ladies' day

Well, they've had their pre-tournament practices and news conferences. All that is left is for the women's tournament to begin.

If it seems like LSU hasn't played in forever it's because it has been about two weeks since the start of the SEC Tournament.

Plain and simple, LSU should win these first two games of the women's tournament. Anything else is a meltdown of epic proportions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


You can officially say goodbye to John Brady. The former LSU coach was introduced this morning as the new head coach at Arkansas State.

Good for Brady. This should be a good fit for him. He's a good X and 0 guy. This isn't a team dominated by one team (see Memphis in C-USA). He should be able to win there and with a Final Four on his resume, who knows,he may be back in the big time soon.

Get ready to say hello to Anthony Grant, we think.

Grant's VCU team got bounced out of the NIT tonight. That means LSU's pursuit of Grant will likely become more intense.

We should find out one way or another if Grant is coming to LSU soon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Twisting the news

I was on a sports talk radio show out of northern Alabama today. They wanted to talk LSU football and basketball. No problem.

The topic got around to Les Miles' new contract.

The spin? LSU paid Miles more than Nick Saban.

OK, once and for all, LSU did nothing more than fulfill Miles' original contract. Had Miles and LSU lost to Ohio State in the title game, Saban would still be the highest-paid coach in the SEC and still sitting at No. 3 nationally in compensation.

But the contract stipulated that Miles go into the top three of coaching salaries if he won the national title. He did. Thus Miles went to No. 3 and Saban went to No.4. It wouldn't have mattered if it had been Urban Meyer or Mack Brown or Pete Carroll. Miles was going to No. 3.

Maybe one day we'll move past all of this LSU-Alabama stuff.

I tend to doubt it, though.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ticket to ride

Wow, LSU may not have gotten a No. 1 women's seed, but the Lady Tigers got the next best thing.

They'll open the NCAA Tournament with possibly playing two games on their home floor in the Maravich Assembly Center. Then, they could -- with two wins -- be headed to New Orleans.

Win two more there and LSU is headed to its fifth straight Final Four.

That's a pretty good rode to the Final Four if you're not a No. 1 seed.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Knoxville knockout

Well, that was a wasted weekend.

For all of the preseason hype out of the LSU camp, the Tigers are now the proud owners of a five-game losing streak and the dubious distinction of having lost three games in a row to Tennessee for the first time.

This is not exactly panic time. It is, after all, the first series of SEC baseball. But Tennessee was picked to finish sixth in the SEC East. That's LAST FREAKING PLACE.

Either LSU is going to improve or all of the hype is going to be hot air.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Brady's next bunch

Our own Glenn Guilbeau is reporting that former LSU basketball coach John Brady is mulling an offer from Arkansas State to become the Indians' head basketball coach.

If indeed Brady lands in Jonesboro, then it's not a bad deal for him.

Sure, he'd prefer to be coaching at LSU in the SEC. But remember, this is a guy that came to LSU from Samford. And even coaching at Arkansas State, would be a step up from where he was at Samford.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hot news in Hot-lanta

ATLANTA - LSU's men's basketball team may have had a brief appearance in the Southeastern Conference Tournament here, but it continues to be the talk of the town because of its two major job openings.

The imminent hiring of Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant to be LSU's men's basketball coach has been a major topic of discussion among the flock of athletic directors, assistant athletic directors, coaches and the like in town. Most of the coaches Grant worked with while an assistant at Florida remain at Florida. Another coaching friend of Grant's from his Florida days is Arkansas first-year coach John Pelphrey.

South Carolina, which also has an opening for a basketball coach, was once thought to be a contender for Grant, but it has virtually conceded the fact that LSU will get him.

Georgia could enter the Grant sweepstakes should it pull the trigger on struggling, five-year coach Dennis Fulton. Fulton is still alive, though, as the Bulldogs won a thrilling, overtime game on a banked buzzer beater by Dave Bliss late Thursday night despite two fouls of Ole Miss shooters in 3-point range at critical times in regulaton and overtime.

Grant, who is represented by a major agent player in Atlanta called Career Sports & Entertainment (CS&E), could have his head turned by Georgia, which has the talent-rich Atlanta area from which to recruit. LSU could still be seen as a more attractive a job than Georgia, which has an aging arena that is often criticized.

LSU does not have the most modern arena either, but it's probably better than Georgia's. Grant would likely find it tougher in the SEC East with the likes of real programs like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vanderbilt. The West is usually very average with most of the programs just passing time until football season. Grant could dominate that division. He won't dominate the East. There has been talk of eliminating the basketball divisions in the SEC, though.

Meanwhile, Atlanta may be involved in the LSU athletic director search as well.

Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich, who operated virtually as an athletic director under outgoing LSU athletic director Skip Bertman from 2001-06, could be a major candidate for the LSU job if he wants to be. There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Radakovich is interested. Atlanta is a much better place to live than Baton Rouge, and the traffic is not much worse if it is. But Georgia Tech is not the national player that LSU is on several levels.

If not Radakovich, LSU's next athletic director will likely be Florida Atlantic athletic director Craig Angelos. Angelos is a rising star in the business. Bertman nearly hired him back in 2001, but he chose Radakovich instead. Angelos visited LSU during the interview process and was shown around campus. Angelos' name was added to LSU's pool of candidates last week by LSU's search committee, which is working with the Parker Executive Search firm, which is based in Atlanta.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

That's a wrap

While LSU's loss to South Carolina in the SEC Tournament today may have been disappointing, I don't see how anyone can say the season was disappointing.

Because that implies there were expectations for the season.

Let's face it, even if Tasmin Mitchell had been healthy, even if John Brady keeps his job, this wasn't going to be an NCAA Tournament.

And, unfortunately, in modern day college basketball, you're either an NCAA Tournament team or not.

So for the second straight year after a Final Four run, LSU is sitting at home.

Oh there were some moments. And some of the moments -- like the Villanova game -- showed LSU at its best and its worst.

As it is, LSU ended the season about the way most people expected.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

USC's Floyd not on LSU's list

ATLANTA - Funny thing about that story in the Los Angeles Daily News that has been run across the country over the last day.

The story says, "USC basketball coach Tim Floyd has been contacted by Louisiana State about its vacant coaching position, according to multiple sources."

The funny part is that Floyd has never been a focus of this LSU search and is not now. He was when Dale Brown retired after the 1996-97 season, but not this time.

A list of possible coaching candidates received by Gannett Louisiana recently, which included nine names at varying levels of LSU interest, did not even include Floyd.

The coaches on that list include Virginia Commonwealth's Anthony Grant, who is at the top of the list and is the surest bet to become the next LSU coach. The others, not necessarily in this order, are Travis Ford of Massachusetts, Sean Miller of Xavier, Tony Bennett of Washington State, Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh, Scott Drew of Baylor, Brian Gregory of Dayton, Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois and Jim Christian of Kent State.

The ceiling salary of $1.5 million that LSU has set would not be enough to lure Floyd. But it's more than that. The key LSU people involved in the search, rightly or wrongly, see the 54-year-old Floyd as more of a retread than a rising young coach such as Grant, who is 41. I do not agree with that sentiment. LSU football coach Les Miles, by the way, is also 54, and few see him as a retread. Floyd would be a great hire at LSU, and LSU should spend more than $1.5 million on a coach if the coach it sees as the best hire would call for more salary than that based on his salary and work history.

Perhaps Floyd, who is good friends with former LSU coach John Brady and may not want to replace him partly for that reason, was not interested in LSU before LSU was not interested in him.

But the bottom line is LSU is not interested in Floyd now and has not contacted him.

LSU may have likely not contacted any candidate, including Grant, directly yet. But an LSU official told me Wednesday that LSU has also not had anyone contact Floyd or Floyd's people. Grant's people, meanwhile, already have been contacted by LSU's people.

Could Floyd or someone close to him be telling reporters that LSU has contacted him in order to get a raise or to make him look like a hot commodity? Who knows? College basketball is a business.

Maybe someone who said he was with LSU or representing LSU's wishes who wants Floyd to be the coach called Floyd or Floyd's people, who then told the Los Angeles paper.

Such a person may not be involved at all in the LSU search. This has happened before. In 1999, when LSU was about to begin looking for a coach to replace Gerry DiNardo, who had not quite been fired yet, a parent of an LSU football player called Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville because that parent liked Tuberville. LSU was never interested in Tuberville, even though it should have been.

Who knows who the Los Angeles paper's "mulltiple sources" are? But had that paper vetted their secret information with the right "multiple" people at LSU, they would have learned that LSU has never been interested in Floyd and still isn't.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

No time to panic

The problem with college baseball is that teams don't play enough games (see professional baseball) to keep a win or a loss in easy perspective for the fan base.

For example, LSU's loss to Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday night, on the heels of a loss to Stetson on Sunday, might cause some to panic.

But this is BASEBALL. You're going to lose some games that, on paper,people might not think you would lose -- during the midweek.

The key is to win on the weekends. LSU starts off SEC play with Tennessee this weekend.

"We feel like we're a much-improved team over what we were last year,'' LSU coach Paul Mainieri said today during the SEC teleconference. "There were a lot of question marks about our team that I had when we were starting SEC play last year, simply because I didn't know the players as well and there were some areas of concern as far as our talent.

"I feel very confident in our ballclub. I think we have a good team. I think our best days are ahead of us.''

Monday, March 10, 2008

Choking under pressure

There is no more margin for error for the LSU women's basketball team now. NCAA Tournament play starts in about a week.

I hope the Lady Tigers enjoyed their run as SEC regular season champions. I hope Sylvia Fowles enjoyed her run as the SEC player of the year. Because neither looked true on Sunday as Tennessee outperformed LSU in the clutch for a 61-55 victory for the SEC Tournament title that may prove to cost LSU a No. 1 seed.

Tennessee's Candace Parker looked much more like the player of the year than did Fowles, who missed 3-of-4 free throws including critical ones down the stretch.

Fowles was at the line with a one-and-one free throw opportunity with LSU leading 54-51 and 3:12 to go. If she makes both, the Lady Tigers lead somewhat comfortably at 56-51. She missed the first one and did not get to shoot the second one. UT immediately tied it at 54-54 on a 3-pointer.

Later, with the shot clock winding down, Fowles relaxed her defense on Parker, who took a jump shot out of her usual range. But she's a clutch player, and she drained it for a 56-54 lead with 1:58 to play. Tennesse led the rest of the way.

Fowles would miss one of two free throws with 1:37 to play, keeping UT ahead 56-55. Parker missed 4 of 8 free throws herself, but with 45 seconds to go, Parker made both free throws for a 58-55 lead. That's clutch.

Down the final critical stretch, Fowles also fumbled the ball when she was about to score. Point guard Erica White drove swiftly and nicely with a steal, but she missed the layup. Quianna Chaney also hurried a 3-pointer so much and from so far out, she shot it as if it was a last-second shot. There was plenty of time on the shot clock.

She performed the same panic attack in the final moments in the loss at home to UConn.

These are seasoned seniors playing like freshmen. Van Chancellor has proven to be an excellent coach this season, But if he doesn't rid his team of these chokes at crunch time, he might not make it to the Final Four, which he was basically hired to win.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Clearing the hurdle

The LSU women couldn't seal the deal on Sunday night in the SEC women's basketball tournament championship.

There is no great shame in losing to Tennessee. Certainly, no great shame in losing to Tennessee in NASHVILLE.

What is a little disturbing is past history.

LSU beat Tennessee in Knoxville this season and lost to the Lady Vols in the tournament. Been there and done that.

Unfortunately, LSU's program is at a point where until the Lady Tigers win a Final Four game, there will always be doubts from outside observers. No longer is getting to the Final Four enough. The novelty of that has worn off quickly. Now it's about getting there and winning there.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The power of LSU

If you have any questions about the appeal of LSU in this state, then check this out.

Matt Flynn was in Bossier City on Saturday to sign autographs at a local establishment.

All right, that figures to have a good turnout.

Except there is one catch. The autographs cost $25 because the business (Reeves Marine's Tiger Island) is dealing with an agent.

Flynn is booked for 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Fans started lining up at 8:30. For nearly four hours Flynn signed autographs. The number of people wanting autographs climbed into the hundreds.

"I was just hoping to come here and meet a lot of the fans see what the reception is up here in Shreveport,'' Flynn said. "It's been great.''

That's the power of LSU in this state.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Don't understand

There is talk that LSU freshman Anthony Randolph could be NBA bound after this season. That he could be a top-10 pick in the draft.

I don't understand it.

I understand he's a talented player. I realize he's put together some good games. And I also understand he has a high ceiling.

But this is a guy who hasn't won anything. Not in high school. Not at LSU. And there are plenty who think the guy is soft.

So what makes him a great NBA prospect?

And while Big Baby has played well at times, Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas might make an NBA team think twice about drafting an LSU player so high.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tournament time

Uusually when a basketball team wins its conference regular season title, the conference tournament doesn't mean much.

It will mean a lot to the LSU Lady Tigers this weekend.

LSU is sitting on the outside of a No. 1 seed at the moment. But, if LSU can add a conference tournament title to go with an undefeated SEC mark, then that could change.

And being a No. 1 seed, whether men or women, matters.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

People's choice?

I was talking with an LSU fan today, just trying to get a feel for what the actual fan base is thinking, and I was caught by surprise.

This fan says he wants Butch Pierre to get the head coaching job. He likes what Pierre has done with the team. He likes the way the players have responded. He likes the development of some of the players.

As LSU keeps winning, more fans are going to want to make Pierre the people's choice.

And that could pose a bit of a predicament for LSU. Do you move Pierre up? Or go outside of LSU?

I think you still have to go outside and make a run at VCU's Anthony Grant, but Pierre isn't making this easy for LSU.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kid Rock at Tiger Stadium?

Apparently LSU football is morphing into entertainment as much as football.

The school announced Tuesday that part of its pre-spring game activities will include performances by Kid Rock and Sara Evans the night before the spring game.

I guess that's what it's coming to these days. But you've got wonder what some of the old timers think about concerts prior to spring games.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Big pickup

The LSU Tigers' 2009 recruiting class is off to a fast start and picking up a commitment tonight from quarterback Russell Shephard is a good start.

When was the last time an LSU quarterback ran a 4.4?

Shepard had offers from just about everybody who is anybody and committed to LSU early.

Finally, it seems LSU is beginning to reap some of the benefits of two national championships in five seasons.

LSU coach Les Miles' recruiting class is off to a fast start. The key now will be to finish strong as well.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

LSU gymnasts keep rolling

The LSU athletic department is building quite the women's sports juggernaut.

Everyone know of Sylvia Fowles and the Lady Tigers' basketball success. Plenty of people know about Yvette Girouard's softball teams and the trips to the Women's College World Series.

But, as is the case in most places nationally, D-D Breaux's LSU gymnastics program flies a bit under the radar.

That may change in the next couple of years. Already the Lady Tigers are ranked eighth in the country and have a long resume of national success. This year, LSU is young.

The Lady Tigers have nine freshmen and sophomores on the roster this year. They'll need big performances from the likes of sophomores Susan Jackson, Summer Hubbard and elder statesmen Kristi Esposito and Ashleigh Clare-Kearney if they are to live up to that lofty national ranking when it matters most.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


LSU's athletic program is known nationally for its success in recent years of the football program.

And those that follow women's basketball recognize LSU as an elite program in that sport over the last four or five years.

Baseball was the team of the '90s and still trying to find its way back.

And a couple of years ago, men's basketball made the Final Four.

The reason I bring all of this up is LSU also has a top-10 ranked gymnastics program that will appear in Shreveport on Sunday.

This diversification of success is far more impressive than just being a "football school'' or a "basketball school.''