Brady Back To What Works Best

FAYETTEVILLE -- John Brady's most successful season at LSU was five years ago, and it's no surprise he's going back to the formula his 1999-2000 team used to share the Southeastern Conference title.

Senior guard Antonio Hudson said it's a simple plan.

"We're running. We're running," he said. "When I tell you we're running -- we're running."

Brady said it's a little more complicated than that.

"In order to fast break, you have to have the personnel, and we do," he said. "You have to defend, challenge shooters without fouling, make the shooter miss. And the most important stat of all is rebounding.

"The base of your team still needs to be defending and rebounding the ball."

Brady's 1999-2000 title team went 28-6 and 12-4 in the SEC, led by current pro Stromile Swift. It topped the SEC in rebounding (40.4) and in scoring defense (62.7) while averaging 75.8 points per game.

LSU has gotten away from transition basketball the last few years for a variety of reasons from players going pro early -- like Swift did after the 2000 season -- to scholarship restrictions and injuries, all of which restricted depth.

The Tigers looked to be an NCAA Tournament team last season until senior forward Jamie Lloreda suffered a season-ending injury and the selection committee left LSU out of the field largely for that reason.

Checking the stats between last year's 18-11 team shows one major difference between it and Brady's best squad -- shot attempts. LSU attempted 1,487 shots last year, nearly 400 less than the 1,880 put up in 1999-2000.

Not only did that team take more shots, but they were high-percentage. LSU led the SEC in field-goal percentage that season at 48.7.

That team attempted only 58 more 3-pointers than last season's while shooting 180 more free throws, a sign LSU is at its best when the Tigers are aggressive and get more shots from the paint than the perimeter.

The paint should be packed this year in the LSU frontcourt. Six-foot-8 sophomore Brandon Bass, the 2003-04 SEC Freshman of the Year, is back after a summer flirtation with the NBA, and freshman behemoth Glen Davis from University High in Baton Rouge is an imposing presence, standing 6-9 and weighing between 320 and 325 pounds.

"He does carry (the weight) pretty good," Brady said. "There's not a guy like Glen Davis in our league. I'm not saying that to say he's the best player or anything. I'm just saying there's not a guy shaped like him in our league."

Hudson said Davis is the real deal but will need a few games to hit his stride.

"With his potential, his body size, his footwork, he has all the tools to be a great player in this league," Hudson said. "Give him some experience in games, let him see what it's really like. He's so used to just bullying people, it's going to be a learning experience.

"I guarantee after six or seven games, you'll see."

For now, Brady said the training staff would like to get Davis down to around 310-315 pounds. Davis runs the floor well, but Brady said he's not ready to run the way he wants him to for more than 20-25 minutes a game.

"In high school he was so much bigger than the other players he could play for a five minute stretch, take a few minutes off and still be the best player by far on the floor," Brady said. "Now he's not going to be able to do that.

"The sooner he can do that, the better our team will be."

Hudson leads a senior backcourt with Xavier Whipple, supplemented by sophomore Tack Minor and junior Darrel Mitchell.

Besides Davis, the incoming freshman class includes forward Tyrus Thomas and Garrett Temple, the third member of the Temple family to play at LSU.

Collis Temple Jr., lettered at LSU from 1971-74, Collis Temple III lettered from 1999-03 and is the older brother of Garrett.

Temple, Davis and Thomas all are from Baton Rouge, increasing the hometown presence on the LSU roster to six players. Brady hopes that helps attendance, which has hovered below a 10,000 average for the last four years since Swift left and is often a source of frustration for the coach.

Extensive renovations for the Maravich Assembly Center are planned for the end of this season, but the football-crazy state usually has only turned out to see exciting players like Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Jackson or Swift.

"We need to develop some players with a quality team where we get the double-whammy," Brady said.

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