FEINSWOG: Brady should be SEC Coach of the Year

John Brady is the Southeastern Conference coach of the year.

The people who vote on such things can choose whomever they want. But the award for getting the most out of a team and exceeding expectations has to belong to Brady, the scourge of early to midseason radio talk and chat boards.


Check that: The guy probably should be national coach of the year. If this upward trend continues and the Tigers – now a lock for the NCAA Tournament -- win the SEC Western Division and then a couple of games in the big dance, all of college hoops should take notice.


Most likely they won't. Take notice that is. By the way, the prediction here is that LSU is a round-of-16 team. But more on that later.


You looking for warm and fuzzy? Brady's not your guy. There have been plenty of times in his eight years at LSU when he's been a public-relations nightmare, especially with the media. He's bowed up to and screamed at more than a few of the locals, me included. In every case you shake your head and mutter something along the lines of John, John, John. Because at the same time you know he's a doting dad to his two daughters and a guy who cares immensely about his sport.


One thing about him that's good: He says his piece and then it's over. He reads all the articles – we can only hope that the phone call that ensues from this column is upbeat – and if he disagrees he'll let you know.


Through it all, no matter what, the guy can coach. Give him some players, the 94 by 50 and toss the ball up and his team will compete.


Remarkably, none of his teams have ever mailed it in, and that includes the ones that finished dead last in 1998, '99 and 2001.


For that matter, until Jaime Lloreda bolted town last March, no player had ever quit down the stretch. Sure, way too many Tigers have transferred in the past eight years, but that's a different issue. Lloreda simply gave up, which made it especially shocking, injury or not.


This team, however, has most of the elements. The keys to going far in the NCAA Tournament are to have at least one lottery pick on your roster, be able to score in the halfcourt, have guards who can control the game and play great defense.


LSU has the first three and is doing it with just seven players, which isn't such a big deal when you consider the length of TV timeouts in the NCAA Tournament.


The defense is a problem and the one place LSU has to tighten up. The Tigers simply allow too many 3-pointers – they're dead last in that department in the SEC – and must defend the perimeter better in the postseason.


But Brandon Bass is the lottery pick.


The Tigers can score in the halfcourt because if things break down, Bass and Glen Davis can power up inside. For that matter, Davis takes powering up to a different level.


And the guards, Tack Minor, Antonio Hudson and Darrel Mitchell, allow LSU to control the tempo of most of its games.


The X factors down the stretch are reserve guard Xavier Whipple and backup big man Ross Neltner.


They've been huge during this streak when LSU has won five of six, including twice on the road. The starting five is super but they can't play all 40 minutes. Darnell Lazare is obviously out of the mix, so much of LSU's fate will depend on Whipple and Neltner.


All of it has left the LSU men's basketball team reaching up to the rarified air occupied by the school's top-ranked women's basketball team, top-ranked gymnasts, top-10 football program, second-ranked baseball team and second-ranked women's track team.


Three months ago you wouldn't have mentioned the LSU men's basketball team in the same breath as those other programs. And Brady deserves to be recognized for it.




Lee Feinswog is the author of "Tales From The LSU Sidelines," a Baton Rouge sportswriter and host of the television show Sports Monday. Reach him at (225) 926-3256 or lee@sportsbatonrouge.com.


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