Don't throw in the towel just yet

If you are on the get rid of John Brady bandwagon, I urge you to please take a step back. <br><br> Every since Brady took the head coaching job at LSU in 1997, it seems he has been fighting an uphill battle

In the beginning, it was scholarship limitations and NCAA probation. Despite harsh sanctions by the NCAA, Brady managed an SEC title in 2000 and a trip to the Sweet 16.

 

The next season attrition and injuries sent the Tigers program plummeting to the doldrums of the SEC once again. Several years of hard work and fighting the system saw the program return to the NCAA Tournament and one of the nation's top recruiting classes.

 

This season, LSU battled for a new identity without the dominant personalities of Collis Temple III, Ronald Dupree and Torris Bright. Brady's bunch worked its way through the non-conference schedule, for which he was criticized and even survived a three-game losing streak in the early portion of the SEC schedule. Following a five-game winning streak and a brief visit to the Top 25, the boo-birds are again howling on the heels of a two-game losing streak at home against Auburn and on the road at Vanderbilt. The losing skid could get worse with a visit to Mississippi State and a home contest versus Kentucky.

 

How unfortunate for Brady and the Tigers. A team that looked like a shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament one week ago is smarting from back-to-back losses and the scrutiny of a critical community.

 

While there is that can be said to combat the last two defeats, let's not throw in the towel on Brady just yet. While many a folk are calling for this guy's head, the criticism is a bit unwarranted considering the situation.

 

There are many who believe if Jaime Lloreda had not gotten hurt when he did that he would be in the running for the SEC's most valuable player award. It is a hard pill to swallow for Brady and Tiger hoops fans that the league's best player has been lost for two games really (counting the Auburn game where he was a shell of himself), maybe more.

 

In the wake of last week's 80-68 loss to Auburn, Brady spoke of his worst being his team breaking the Top 25, coming home before a packed house and the unfortunate timing of Lloreda's injury and a loss when everybody was watching.

 

Brady's worst nightmare became a reality when the War Eagle swept into Baton Rouge, shot 65-perecent in the second half, then Vanderbilt romped through a Lloreda-less defense on the road to a 20-point victory.

 

How quickly things change?

 

A week ago, Brady was the toast of the league. People were eagerly placing the Tigers in the bracketology as a potential No. 4 or 5 seed. Now people are second-guessing themselves asking if LSU can even make the tournament. While the road to March is a rocky one for Brady and his team as the Tigers are now affixed firmly on the bubble, all hope is not lost.

 

A road date at an angry Mississippi State ball club and a home game with always-good Kentucky loom, if LSU can somehow win one of those games (this writer is calling an upset of Kentucky at home on Sunday) and get Lloreda back for Auburn on the road and Ole Miss at home, March Madness will get a return visit from the Bayou Bengals.

 

So for all of you who say that I am crazy and are jeering Brady at this time, give the man and his hobbled team a little more credit and don't be so quick to throw in the towel and long for SEC baseball or spring football practice. They do not call them the Fighting Tigers for nothing – and I think they have a lot more fight left in them than people are giving them credit for.


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