University of Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey found that out last season and LSU bench boss Trent Johnson is certainly getting that lesson drilled into him this season.
The Tigers, who lost all five starters and two other key players from a 2009 SEC West championship club, have lost all nine league games this season and have dropped 12 of their last 13 overall contests.
"There are just a few teams in the country in college basketball that reload," Johnson said. "A lot of us have to rebuild. As much as I hate to use that word, I knew this was coming from the standpoint of when I took this job. But that doesn't make it easy."
LSU (9-14, 0-9) will visit SEC West leader Arkansas (12-11, 5-3) tonight in a 7 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.
Johnson is just trying to get his team to just play through the struggles.
"It's tough and it's frustrating," Johnson said. "But for me and I think my concern – and I talk to my guys all the time – as long as you understand why we are in this position, as long as you understand the process, that's all that matters. But it's tough. I haven't experienced this in probably 10 years.
"…Quite frankly we are just not where we need to be and we are not a very good team in many aspects," Johnson added. "But I have got some guys that are trying to do the best they can and that's all you can ask of them."
That sounds all to familiar to Pelphrey, whose team has won four straight this season after his second year finished with the Razorbacks losing 15 of their last 17 games.
"We understand who we are and how quickly things can change because they have already," Pelphrey said. "We are halfway through the SEC conference play and if anybody thinks it won't be wild and crazy the rest of the way and unthinkable things will happen, then they are wrong. Nobody understands that more than our basketball team."
In fact, Pelphrey dubbed his team's game with LSU as its toughest of the season because of the raised expectations of his team and the natural tendency of teams to let up against teams that have been struggling.
"We know that if we don't come to play on Wednesday, we are going to have major problems," Pelphrey said. "But that is life in this league and especially in the West."
While Arkansas is coming in off an 82-79 overtime home win over Auburn, LSU comes in off getting bashed at home by Kentucky.
That is also something the Razorbacks have experienced with a 101-70 humbling at Kentucky that came before this current four-game win streak.
"We were completely overmatched," Johnson said. "It was men against boys and now we have got to bounce back against a very good Arkansas team," Johnson said. "I think John has done an exceptional job in nurturing and getting his guys mature over the last year and a half.
"Obviously we are all well aware of their troubles from last year, but you see how they are defending and you see how they playing right now," Johnson added.
LSU does have one of the league's best players in 6-7, 245-pound power forward Tasmin Mitchell (17.3, 9.6).
He joins 6-2 junior guard Bo Spencer (15.5) and 6-7, 230-pound sophmore forward Storm Warren (12.2) as the only other Tigers averaging over four points per game.
"I did the best job I could in educating him what this year was going to be like and that he was not going to be around older, maturer, better players," Johnson said. "But he hasn't bucked a minute, he has stayed as positive as he can and that speaks volumes to him. He has done not a good job, but an exceptional job."
The aforementioned trio just doesn't have enough help on most nights according to Johnson, whose team was 8-2 before its skid started.
"Other guys, who are freshmen and who have been in the program, haven't played up to their standards and haven't played up to my standards in terms of just being competitive and showing some mental toughness," Johnson said. "So it's tough in a league like this."
Pelphrey knows all about that and is not about to pat his team on the back too hard.
"We're not some big, bad basketball team," Pelphrey said. "We are a basketball team that has been fortunate. We've been tough at the right times. The ball has bounced our way a little bit. We've been fortunate. We're going to need a little more of that. We're going to need to be a little more tougher the rest of the way. We're going to have to hopefully play better and then we're going to need a few breaks."