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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mainieri on Arkansas

LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri spoke on the SEC baseball teleconfernce today with the Arkansas series coming up this weekend.

"We got back on the right track this past weekend against Auburn and played fairly well and won a couple of close games. We had a good ballgame last night with Tulane. We're feeling pretty good about ourselves right now and really right at the right time.

"We're going to a very challenging environment against an outstanding team, obviously a lot at stake. It's about the right time for us to be playing as well as we can. We're excited about going to Fayetteville. It should be a tremendous environment. I assume they'll have some extremely large crowds. I've always said Dave (Van Horn) does a great job with his team there. They play great baseball, very solid baseball. I think it's an extremely well-coached team. (It's) a tremendous challenge for us. We're excited about the opportunity. It should be three great ballgames.''

On keys this weekend:

"For us to beat Arkansas, it's going to take some extraordinary performances from some of our players. Obviously, somebody is going to have to step up and pitch a great game for us. Our closer will have to do the job as he's done all year. But the key is somehow we're going to have to put up some crooked numbers. I don't think you can go to Arkansas and expect to get a run here and a run there and expect to win the ballgame. I just feel like somebody's going to have to do something special. We're going to have to have somebody have a four or five RBI day, a great pitching performance.

"I think the one thing that struck me in my first two years in this league is that Arkansas plays so hard and they play very fundamentally sound baseball. I personally like coaching against Dave and his teams because you know they're playing the game the right way. I've enjoyed the competition the first two years and looking forward to it this weekend.''

A whole different world

You know, five years ago if you had told me the LSU football coach was twittering I would have wondered if you meant Curley Hallman was twittering away some of LSU's tradition/recruiting advantages by posting four consecutive losing seasons.

Now, it's all the rage. Les Miles is featured in a USA Today story on coaches and Twitter.

Part of me thinks this is just plain goofy. A coach speaking thoughts of 140 characters or less for some flunky to blast our via Twitter.

And then you see that the competition is doing the same thing and you think, well, you've got to keep up with the Joneses.

As far as tweeting during games, I don't think it will be much different than those ridiculous interviews at halftime.

Again, the whole thing seems rather silly. But it's the day and age we live in. It's certainly hard to imagine Cholly' Mac twittering.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On Phelon Jones

Sorry, but I don't understand people getting worked up over Phelon Jones transferring to Alabama. Of course, I didn't understand Ole Miss people getting worked up over Malcolm White transferring to LSU in basketball.

See, here's where I'm coming from in regards to Jones. He's just one player. And in football, it's extremely rare for that one player to make a major difference, unlike basketball where one guy can make a difference just because of the fact there are fewer players.

Then there is the fact that Jones didn't exactly fit into LSU's plans in the secondary. It's not like Les Miles is losing a starter to another SEC team.

Now, where I do understand people getting worked up -- both LSU football and Ole Miss basketball fans -- is this whole thing about transferring within the conference. While I don't really think you should put restrictions on where a student-athlete transfers, it does seem a bit unseemly when you see athletes transferring not only within the conference but within the division.

But again, it's not worth losing any sleep over.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Catching up on the weekend

Couple of weekend thoughts here:

1) Congratulations to Demetrius Byrd for getting drafted while still in the hospital recoving from an automobile accident. It is a bit of a game for San Diego, but you can't help but feel for Byrd when something like that happens the week before the draft.

That being said, it has to be awfully disappointing if your linebacker Darry Beckwith to go undrafted while a teammate is drafted out of the hospital.The good news for a guy like Beckwith is sometimes shopping around for the right fit as a free agent can be better than getting drafted by the wrong team.

2) On LSU baseball, a 5-0 week was a nice rebound from the rough week just seven days prior. There were more than a few tense moments over the weekend and that apparently is going to be the identity of this team. But as long as they keep winning and remain among the top eight teams in the nation as far as seedings for the tournament go, then there should be few complaints.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

On the NFL Draft

I know a lot of LSU fans don't ever want to read about Nick Saban again. And that is certainly understandable.

But there is one statistic that I found that is downright impressive.

Tyson Jackson became the ninth player recruited and signed by Nick Saban while at LSU to be drafted in the first round.

That's even more impressive when you consider that Saban was at LSU for only five seasons (2000-04).

Now, that's not longing for Saban. That's not taking anything away from Les Miles. It's just stating a fact and an impressive one at that.

In fact, LSU's streak of six consecutive years with a first-round draft pick is tops in the nation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mainieri on LSU baseball

Paul Mainieri was asked on the SEC Coaches' teleconference about coaching at LSU.

During his answer, he gave a brief summation of the Tigers' season.

Here's what he had to say.

"I think we've had a pretty good year. It's probably not up to what a lot of people's standards are but when you're ranked in the top five or six teams in the country the whole year, I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of. The season's not over. We've got 14 games left in the regular season. I like our position. Hopefully we'll make a good stretch run here until the end.''

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Big Baby and Tyrus

This week's Sports Illustrated has a pretty cool photo from the Bulls-Celtics playoff series. In the photo, Tyrus Thomas is sent flying through the air with, what appears to be, a push from Glen "Big Baby'' Davis.

So you've got two former LSU stars -- who are playing pretty well in the series, by the way -- as the focus of the photo.

And one of the New England newspapers did a pretty good job documenting the Davis-Thomas connection. You can read the story here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Super Tiger Weekend? Not

Yeah, I know, they call it Super Tiger Weekend because of the spring football game and a bunch of spring sports.

I get it.

What I don't understand is how LSU has lost three of its last four to Nicholls State and now Tennessee?

I realize it's baseball. I realize things happen. I realize it's a long season.

I also realize there is a disturbing trend of playing to the level of the competition. When Georgia's ranked No. 1, the Tigers take their 'A' game on the road. When Nicholls comes to town, they pound out four hits.

Another disturbing trend is pitcher Austin Ross is starting to go the wrong way. That's three straight starts where he's been less than stellar.

The bullpen did him no favors, either on Sunday.

After the big win on Friday, the defense let down the Tigers on Saturday and the pitching did the same on Sunday. And there were no big bats to bail out the defense or the pitching.

The good news? It's mid-April.

The bad news? May and important games are coming up soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Some football thoughts

The way the teams were divided for the spring game, there was no way this was going to be a competitive spring game.

Anyway, some thoughts from the spring game.

1) I'll be stunned if Jarrett Lee is still with the program in the fall. It's pretty obvious this is Jordan Jefferson's team with some Russell Shepard mixed in as well.

2) I'm not ready to pronounce the defense fixed until I see it in a real game and against a real opponent.

3) I still have some questions at wide receiver. But Brandon LaFell's return may be the best offseason move of the year for LSU football.

Monday, April 13, 2009

No. 1 -- again

Well, they're back on top.

The LSU Tigers baseball team is a consensus No. 1 team in the land this week.

While some figured this was going to happen today, consider this small detail: LSU isn't even in first place in its own division, much less its own conference. The Tigers currently trail Arkansas in the West and Georgia in the overall standings.

Actually, this shows the voters doing some research. Because if you research it, you know LSU has won each of its SEC series. You'll also know that LSU has a series win at Georgia and another home series win over Ole Miss.

Will LSU remain No. 1 the rest of the way? Probably not.

Does LSU have a chance to be No. 1 when it counts in June? Probably.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Right on schedule

Say this for the LSU Tigers baseball team, they don't mind doing things the hard way.

The Tigers stayed right on schedule with a 12-7 win over Alabama today. That gives LSU another 2-1 series victory.

LSU has won all five of its SEC series by taking two out of three games. Perhaps even more impressive is this fact: LSU is 5-0 in Sunday games.

Like I said, the Tigers don't mind doing things the hard way. Eventually they'll win the first two games of a series.

Right now, they've won with great pitching and so-so hitting. The last couple of weeks they've won with great hitting and pitching that wasn't quite as good. And they really haven't gotten all three starters pitching well at the same time.

Yet, they're right on schedule. Right where they need to be as we close in on mid-April.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Who would believe

Unless I missed something, the only team to lead the national champion North Carolina Tar Heels in the second half of the NCAA Tournament was an LSU basketball team with little expectations when the season began.

Of course, some will look back with a lot of what-ifs about that game.

As it turned out, though, LSU lost to the eventual national champion and probably gave the Tar Heels their biggest challenge in the tournament.

It isn't much solace for LSU. But it is something of an accomplishment.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Big-time series win

For all of the criticism of LSU's hitting, the Tigers went into Georgia -- either a No. 1 or a top-10 team according to the poll of your preference -- and put up 23 runs. That's nearly eight a game and nearly eight a game should win you the majority of your games.

It did this weekend as LSU went on the road and won two of three from the Bulldogs.

And it was a good thing, too, for LSU fans. The Tigers' vaunted pitching staff had its own share of challenges with the Bulldogs allowing 19 runs in the series.

But this is what good teams do. Last week, the pitching carried the Tigers to two wins in three games against Ole Miss. This weekend, the hitters did the job.

Sure, you wonder what this team would be like if it both hit and pitched at the same time. But that's a moot point.

All of these games are just positioning for what matters in college baseball -- May and June.

Friday, April 03, 2009

No luck for Trent

The AP named its national men's basketball coach of the year today and the award went to Kansas' Bill Self.

The AP Player of the Year went to Oklahoma's Blake Griffin.

I don't think anybody would argue with the Griffin selection.

I'll argue with the Self selection. Yes, his team was decimated by roster turnover after a national championship season. And yes, Kansas went on to win the Big 12. He is certainly deserving of accolades.

But it's still Kansas. There is a great tradition at Kansas. And tradition matters. There is an expectation at that program that isn't at, say, Colorado or Iowa State -- or LSU.

LSU coach Trent Johnson, on the other hand, took over a veteran team this year. That can be more troubling than rebuilding some times because you have to get people to buy into what you are doing.

Johnson was able to do just that and his team won the SEC championship. Granted, the SEC was down and the SEC wasn't as strong as the Big 12. But Johnson didn't have the luxury of tradition or great expectations to push his players to a new level. He had a team with no expectations and little to no fan support at the beginning of the year.

He didn't have any luck in this national award. And he probably won't for any of the others. But you can make a case that he is the most deserving.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Big weekend ahead for baseball

LSU's 8-7 loss to Tulane on Wednesday aside, the Tigers have a big weekend when they visit Georgia in a three-game SEC series.

Depending on which poll you look at, this will be a matchup of top-five teams. In Collegiate Baseball, Georgia is No. 1 and LSU is No. 5. In Baseball America, LSU is No. 2 and Georgia is No. 6.

Either way, winning this series on the road would be huge for LSU. So far, the Tigers have relied heavily on their pitching. That probably won't change this weekend.

It'll be a good gauge for the Tigers, even though we're still just around the halfway point of the season.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On Calipari and Kentucky

Kentucky's hire of John Calipari is good for the Wildcats and good for the SEC.

How is it good for the SEC you might ask?

Well, not since Rick Pitino was at Kentucky could non-Wildcat fans work up a good hatred for the Cats. And really, even Pitino's teams weren't as unlikeable as Joe B. Hall's team of Parade All-Americans.

But now Calipari is hired and you can pretty much count on the McDonald's All-American game to be colored blue in the future. Calipari's own recruiting prowess along with Kentucky's lure should bring back some of the Joe B. Hall overloaded with talent rosters.

And if that's not enough, consider this quote from a Kentucky student to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal on why he wanted Calipari hired.

"We want the best players in the nation," Aaron Stanley, a Kentucky student told the Memphis Commercial Appeal, "because we deserve the best players."

Remember why you hated Kentucky basketball now, LSU fans?