It's hard to imagine any returning player on LSU's team is more excited about the new season than Shavon Coleman.
SF Shavon Coleman
After the Thibodaux native finally made his way to TigerTown via the junior college level (Howard College in Texas), Johnny Jones was forced to use the somewhat slender Coleman in the paint more often than not, covering for a glaring lack of capable big men on LSU's 2012-13 roster.
Now, with Jarell Martin (6-foot-10, don't care what the official roster says), Jordan Mickey (6-foot-8), John Odo (6-foot-9) and Darcy Malone (7-foot) around to supplement the 6-foot-9 Johnny O'Bryant in the post, Coleman can get back to what he does best – guarding perimeter players and slashing from the wing on offense.
Jones believes he'll get better production from Coleman, in his final year of collegiate eligibility, now that he's cast in a role more suitable to his size and skills.
"This year we are going to be more concentrated on him playing on the perimeter, which I think is his better position. That could be at the two spot or the three. He is a tremendous defender out there because of the long length he has," explained LSU's second-year coach. "He's really good on the wing. He's got great ball-handling skills. He can really shoot it, and he has continued to improve his outside shooting touch. He's a great passer that doesn't turn it over a lot. He is just a gamer out there."
Coleman gave a glimpse into what his offensive game on the perimeter can look like when LSU played Georgia, another team short on post players, in the first round of last year's SEC Tournament. The man nicknamed "Sugar" went off for 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting (4-of-5 from deep) and grabbed six rebounds.
On the defensive end Coleman has the potential to serve two important functions for the 2013-14 Tigers.
First, he is a virtual lock to be LSU's best on-ball perimeter defender, filling a void Charles Carmouche left when he graduated this offseason. At 6-foot-5 and rangy, Coleman is the Bayou Bengals' best chance at blanketing some of the top outside shooters in the SEC, and he has the mobility to stay in front of drivers as well.
Second, when LSU opts to go full-court pressure in a smaller lineup, Jones says Coleman can reprise his role as the point man.
"Last year he played the point on our press. He was the four man, and he created a lot of havoc out there on the floor," Jones recalled. "At times that we have to go small, we can utilize him that way when we are trying to really speed up (teams)."
While his role will evolve this season, moving to the perimeter, it's unlikely playing time will increase for Coleman, who played 28.1 minutes per game last season (fourth on the team). That is neither an indictment on the player nor a bad thing for LSU. It's just reflective of the fact that help is on the way in the form of all those new bigs mentioned above as well as Quarterman.
On that same note it will be interesting to watch how Jones decides to tinker with his starting and crunch-time lineups as it pertains to Coleman. He's really a good fit to be involved with both, but there are rumblings that Jones may start Martin at the three (with Andre Stringer at the two). That might leave Coleman coming off the bench, with matchups pending from game to game, but his abilities in transition and on the defensive end will have him on the floor frequently this season.
What do you expect from Coleman's senior season?
PG Anthony Hickey
F Johnny O'Bryant