DEVILLE: Tigers hoops bounces into NCAA

Everyone knows football rules the roost in the capital city.

However, for those of you who have not noticed, Baton Rouge is looking more and more like a haven for hoops as basketball has made quite a splash down on the bayou this season.

 

Most people are familiar with the Lady Tigers ascent to the top of the women's college basketball world. Pokey Chatman has developed LSU into the premiere program in the country and on Selection Sunday the Lady Tigers were awarded the nation's No. 1 overall seed.

 

But for those of you who wrote off John Brady's Tigers back in December when the Bayou Bengals were doing few things well, sit up and take notice because LSU is back. After closing out SEC play with a 12-4 overall record, including a seven-game winning streak and fighting tooth and nail in the most exciting game of the 2005 season in the league, Brady's Tigers have been fitted with their dancing shoes.

 

Saturday's heartbreaking loss to Kentucky in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament was a distant memory Sunday when the Tigers were awarded a six-seed on Selection Sunday and will now head out west to Boise, Idaho where they will face Alabama-Birmingham in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

"A No. 6 seed is fine," Brady said. Sunday. "I thought we'd probably be a No. 6. They're sending us way out to Boise. We've gone to Albuquerque and Salt Lake, now Boise. We play UAB who we played a year ago. UAB is a pressing team and shoots a lot of 3s. We are excited about being in it, we're excited about playing and our team is looking forward to it. I think what we've been through recently will help us."

 

After the way the season began, the Tigers are tickled about being a No. 6 seed along with having the opportunity to take part in March Madness.

 

"We just want to get mentally focused that will and determination to play," said freshman forward Glen Davis. "It helps us all around. This is going to build so much character for us so we can be able to compete in the NCAA Tournament. Hopefully we can carry that competitiveness that we had in the SEC Tournament into the NCAA."

 

After logging plenty of frequent flyer miles over the past two seasons, Chatman and Co. will enjoy a short flight to Knoxville, Tenn. where they will face Stetson in the first round. Being the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Lady Tigers receive the luxury of geographical advantage and will play the first two rounds in Knoxville then the third and fourth in Chattanooga. That is music to LSU's ears after being sent to Eugene, Ore., Seattle and Palo Alto, Calif. the last two seasons.

 

"It's hard to know what to expect in those terms because everything is so new," Chatman said. "But when you talk about atmosphere, I can't think of a place that has atmosphere anywhere like Knoxville. So it's one of those things where you could speculate and guess about all the changes and newness of the tournament but the atmosphere will definitely be there."

 

Still not convinced LSU is growing rapidly into a basketball town?

 

Try this on for size.

 

For the first time in the history of the SEC, the SEC Men's and Women's Players of the Year came from the same school. Never before had a school swept those awards, but LSU did so this season when Brandon Bass and Seimone Augustus were named the top players in their respective league.

 

And not only is Bass and Augustus from the same university, they are from the same high school. Each attended Capitol High School in Baton Rouge. Also, toss in the fact that the SEC Men's Freshman of the Year was Glen Davis, also from Baton Rouge (University High) and the capital city is quickly growing into a hoops hotbed.

 

The accolades have been plentiful for Tiger hoopsters. Along with Bass, Augustus and Davis' honors, Chatman was named the SEC Coach of the Year. Freshman forward Sylvia Fowles was tabbed the women's 6th Player of the Year. She was also named to the SEC's second team.

 

Temeka Johnson and Augustus were both first team picks on the all-SEC team while Bass grabbed all-SEC first team accolades and Davis was on the second team. Both Johnson and Augustus are also finalists for the Naismith Award.

 

While we are talking honors, Bass and senior Antonio Hudson were named to the SEC All-Tournament team. Bass hit a jumper at the end of regulation sending Saturday's game with Kentucky into overtime.

 

Hudson must really love the Georgia Dome.

 

He scored 21 points in the quarterfinal win over Auburn, hitting 7-of-11 field goals, including 5-of-7 three-pointers to continue his strong record in the building. Against Kentucky in the classic overtime loss on Saturday in the semifinals, Hudson again had 21 points, hitting 7-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-8 trees to go with two assists and three steals in 42 minutes. He finishes his career with five 20-plus games in the SEC Tournament.

 

Now, now, all this basketball talk and spring football is up and running. Well, there is an update on Tiger football in this issue. But for now all eyes will be focused on both groups of Tigers as they have their sights set on the Final Four.

 

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

 


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