DEVILLE: Hoops is on the way

Whew, it was nice to have a little downtime. Well, sort of.

The LSU Tigers enjoyed their first open date of the 2004 season last weekend as Nick Saban and Co. took the weekend to rest up and get ready for the home stretch. More on that in a minute.

However, here at Tiger Rag, there might not have been any football played in Tiger Stadium on Saturday, but it didn't mean we weren't busy. Nope, not football, but basketball season is right around the corner and things got started with a bang last Tuesday at LSU Basketball Media Day.

First-year head coach Pokey Chatman entertained questions about her top-ranked Lady Tiger basketball squad. And head coach John Brady held everyone's attention as he detailed a plan of opening up the LSU offense for a new brand of Tiger hoops.

It is a little premature to go into all of that.

But you can read all about it next week in the annual Tiger Rag Basketball Preview. Our staff has worked feverishly over the past week getting our monster issue together and ready to be delivered in your mailboxes next week. In it we detail each program including features and player profiles. We take a look at the SEC and give our opinions of how we think coach Brady and Chatman's teams will fare in the upcoming season.

While there is a buzz around campus right now surrounding the positive things concerning basketball, it is still mid October and that means football is in the air.

It was predicted last week that LSU should win the remainder of its games, finish 9-2 and play a bowl of the New Year's Day variety – most probably Cotton. Nothing has changed in a week's time except the fact that Auburn has all but sewn up the SEC Western Division with a dominating 38-20 win over Arkansas last Saturday. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in the country and looked poised to make a run at a national title.

Auburn's success has come with the effectiveness of Jason Campbell in a re-vamped West Coast offense. Plus the hard running of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown makes the Tigers a serious national title contender.

While we don't think LSU will lose another game, there is still some concern about the regular season finale – a showdown with Arkansas in Little Rock. While the Hogs aren't as good as they have been in recent years, Arkansas is undefeated in War memorial Stadium under Houston Nutt.

Also, look out for the Ole Miss Rebels. All right, we know the Rebels are 3-4 on the year, but David Cutcliffe's team is playing much better than they did when they were losing to Wyoming. Ole Miss gave Tennessee all they wanted in a 21-17 loss Saturday. And as bizarre as it sounds, the Rebels three-quarterback system is working. Former LSU commitment Robert Lane played well for Ole Miss Saturday and one can only imagine the shower boos will be deafening when he steps under center in Tiger Stadium on Nov. 20.

And don't count out Alabama either.

While the Crimson Tide has lost its starting quarterback and leading rusher, Alabama is 5-2 at the moment and looked impressive shutting down upstart Southern Miss 27-3 Saturday in Tuscaloosa. The Tide has lost to Arkansas and South Carolina, but have racked up wins over some rather lesser competition in beating Utah State, Western Carolina, Ole Miss and Kentucky. But don't think Mike Shula's club won't come into Tiger Stadium hungry for revenge from a year ago.

Shifting gears a bit, there is a buzz around town right now that the LSU administration might be doing some reorganizing for a remodeled Tiger Stadium next season. One complaint has always been people seated in the west upper deck cannot hear the band play, nor can some folks on the west side of the stadium in the bowl.

Complain no longer.

It seems for the 2005 season, the Golden Band from Tigerland will be moved to a centralized location in the middle of the north end zone bleachers, thus allowing the entire stadium the ability to hear the band and participate in songs and cheers. There are people who dislike change and don't like to mess with tradition, but this is a positive move by the LSU brass in this opinion.

And one quick baseball note - Blake Gill will miss the remainder of fall camp after having surgery on his right shoulder for a tear incurred during practice. The severity of the injury was unknown at press time, but Gill was spotted Saturday night with his right arm in a sling.

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