FEINSWOG: Tigers' run one of best ever

Exactly two months ago, the LSU men's basketball team (you have to specify these days) was coming off a terrible stretch in which it lost four out of five games.

The first loss was to Southern Miss in overtime in Biloxi. Southern Miss finished the regular season 11-17 and dead last in conference USA.

Things got worse three days later when the Tigers lost at Houston, a middle-of-the-pack C-USA team.

They bounced back with a victory over Florida State in New Orleans. It seemed good at the time. FSU, however, finished 11-18, and dead last in the ACC.

Then LSU went to Utah and lost handily. Utah's good – 25-4 overall and 16-0 at home good – but things didn't look good for LSU. Especially not after it went to Alabama and got pasted 69-55 to open Southeastern Conference play. It dropped the Tigers to 6-5 overall and, well, if you read chat boards and listen to talk radio, LSU coach John Brady had one foot in the basketball coaching grave and the other on a banana peel.

So for LSU to be 13-3 since then and to finish tied for first in the SEC Western Division, and to be poised to gain a No. 6 or 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, well, this is one of the strongest regular-season runs in LSU men's basketball history.

This LSU team has seemingly gone through it all this season and if everyone stays healthy and they hit some shots, the Tigers could go a long way in the NCAA Tournament.


Before signing off, let's give a tip of the hat to two LSU walk-ons, Paul Wolfert and Josh Maravich, who, like Antonio Hudson and Xavier Whipple, were also honored as seniors Saturday.

If LSU does go far, it won't be because of their efforts on the court. Most people have no idea how hard it is to play college basketball, period. It's a tremendous physical, mental and emotional grind. It is ever harder to be a walk-on for a major program. Only rarely – such as with pitiful Georgia this year – do walk-ons get to play and make a difference. Usually they just bust their butts, sit on the end of the bench, cheer, and hope for a tidbit or two of playing time.

Almost all of them get it now and then when their coach throws them a bone. Sadly at LSU, Brady's not one to throw bones.

Sometimes being a walk-on pays off in a big way. Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, two former Tigers who served in that role, capitalized on the names parlayed it into one Baton Rouge's more successful restaurants, named, appropriately, Walk-On's.

Warner and Wolfert were given scholarships for parts of their LSU careers, but walk-ons they were.

Wolfert and Maravich are delightful kids. They, like all walk-ons, had to know what they were getting into.

I can relate to the story of my own son, Kirk, who just finished an NAIA career where he played 32 minutes a game for his team. He could have tried to play at a number of big schools and just might have made an impact later in his career.

But Brady himself told him when he was coming out of high school not to walk on at a place like LSU, but "go someplace where they want you."

I'm glad he did. I would have hated for him to sit on the end of the bench all season and not get to play one second on his senior day.

Especially not when his team was up 12 in the final minute.


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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