DEVILLE: Positive attitudes key for Tigers

From immature and insecure to SEC Western Division champions?

Whatever it was John Brady told his Tiger team in late December, it has surely worked.


After losing four out of five games in late December and early January including the SEC opener at Alabama, the LSU Tigers were a disappointing 6-5 and looked as if on their way to a losing record.


But a 79-64 win over South Carolina on Jan. 12 sparked what is to be one of the biggest turnarounds in the history of Tiger hoops. Including the win over the Gamecocks, John Brady's team won 13 of their next 16 games, including a six-game winning streak to close out SEC play and clinch a share of the SEC Western Division title with Alabama.


Critics everywhere are mumbling to themselves, ‘how did that happen?'


Brady said Saturday after his team toppled Vanderbilt 81-69 in the regular season finale his approach to this team changed over the course of the year. And while Brady was adjusting to his team, the players in turn shed their own individual agendas and learned to play true team basketball.


"I am proud of our team," Brady said. "They have grown. I think the people that have followed our team have seen how they have grown and matured. I called our team in December immature and insecure. It wasn't being ugly, it was just the way it was. We were concerned with a lot of things that weren't related to winning games. But we stayed the course and figured it out. Now we are an unselfish team that passes the ball well, shares the ball well."


But this process of adjusting didn't come without some bumps in the road along the way.


The Tigers endured one of the worst losses of the Brady era at Kentucky getting beat 89-58, then lost to Tennessee 77-55 two weeks later in Knoxville. The final setback was a 65-62 loss at Arkansas on Feb. 12, which proved to be a major turning points in LSU's season. Plus, that was the last time the Tigers would lose in the regular season.


"This team is responding, but it has been a process," Brady said. "I thought even after we lost at Arkansas, our team got better by coming back from 14 or 15 down closing it down and having a chance to win in the end. I felt after that game at Arkansas our team got better. We have played well since then."


While Brady has been a longtime proponent of tough-love, the eighth-year head coach said he has changed his approach to handling his team, which has paid major dividends.


"I think it was just kind of a process," Brady said. "I felt us getting better, but I don't think it was just any one things. But I think what we have done, I have done and our coaching staff has done is we have been extremely positive with this group. We have been encouraging with this team. We have watched tons of tape with this team and let them see themselves more so than we ever have before. I haven't challenged this team as much as I have others in the past because this collection of personalities didn't respond and wasn't going to respond to that. So I have been encouraging with this team."


Brady has said in the past weeks he likes the way his team is playing right now and that it is important that they are playing well at the right time of the year. But most of all he said his team is having fun in the process.


"These guys are fun to coach and they want to win," Brady said. "It has been fun to see and I hope you guys and the fans see that this has been a fun team to watch grow and mature and get better. There are a lot of good things going on with this team and these players."




Brady and Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury coached together in Starkville for number of years.


While the two coaches are the fiercest of rivals these days, Brady called his former colleague during the week preceding the Bulldogs' SEC West showdown with divisional front runner Alabama. A Mississippi State win over the Crimson Tide at the Hump would have given LSU the outright SEC West title and Brady wanted to make sure Stansbury took care of business.


However, Alabama edged the Bulldogs 68-63 on Saturday, thus leaving Brady's Tigers in a tie with the Crimson Tide for the division's top spot.


"I called Rick Stansbury yesterday at Mississippi State and I told him I was calling as a concerned alumni and that I wanted him to beat Alabama," Brady said. "I was speaking as a Mississippi State alumni, which I am one of."


Brady then said Stansbury shot back with some quick qit.


"Then he said, ‘I appreciate the call and I certainly want to make our alumni happy,'" Brady said. "Now I am going to write a letter to the chancellor up there and tell them I am not pleased with his performance."




Was it Brandon Bass' last day as an LSU Tiger?


Bass, who toyed with the notion of professional basketball after his freshman year, is rumored to be a high draft pick in this summer's upcoming NBA Draft. Bass has honed his skills, dominates on the boards and has added a three-point shot to his repertoire making him as versatile as any big man in the collegiate ranks. Plus, he is a lights out free throw shooter.


But after Saturday's win, when asked had he played his final game in purple and gold, the 6-8 Bass bit his bottom lip and smiled.


"My last game?" Bass smiled. "What are you talking about? I am a sophomore. I mean, I haven't been thinking about that right now. I am just thinking about this team, what is ahead of us now and winning games. I will worry about all of that later. Right now, I just want to win here."


The LSU student section stated their case several times during Saturday's game chanting "one more year" after each thunderous slam dunk.


When asked is Bass the best player in the SEC, Brady downplayed the notion stating if he is that he might probably be headed to the NBA.


"You guys have asked me that before and I am kind of hesitant because if I say by far you know we will be watching him on television somewhere else and I want to watch him on TV here," Brady said. "I think what Brandon Bass has meant to this team and the year he has had and how you have seen him improve and get better, I think he is the best player in the league and I think Glen Davis is the best freshman in the league. That is what I think, but you can't vote for your own people. That is for other people to decide. I wouldn't trade Brandon Bass for anybody."




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine. He can be reached by e-mail at

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