FEINSWOG: Baffling blowout in Boise

All right, I, too, am baffled. <br><br> I sat there and watched, just as you did, and saw the LSU men's basketball team melt down before my eyes – on a 50-inch screen! <br><br> For the first time, I missed my old TV set.

I saw John Brady seem more baffled than me and I wondered aloud if he was ill, perhaps suffering from the flu or something, such was his malaise on the bench.

 

I was baffled by Tack Minor, of whom I'm a tremendous fan. For the season, in which he started every game, Minor had 135 assists and 101 turnovers, a positive ratio of 4.7 to 3.5. Then as LSU imploded against UAB in the NCAA Tournament opener, 82-68 - and it wasn't that close - Minor had two assists and seven turnovers.

 

Simply put, LSU couldn't win without Minor playing at the top of his game.

 

Not that he was the only culprit. Senior Antonio Hudson picked a tough time to have arguably his worst game: A line that showed 3-for-12, including 2 of 10 beyond the arc, one assist and three turnovers in 37 minutes.

 

Darrel Mitchell went 1-for-14 from the field, 0-for-9 from 3-point range. That's almost impossible to believe.

 

Xavier Whipple played 23 minutes and didn't take a shot.

 

Brandon Bass, Glen Davis and Mitchell had three turnovers apiece.

 

No wonder Brady appeared to be in a catatonic state much of the game.

 

Not that there's any excuse for it. Unless he was, in fact, ill and physically suffering, where was the fire? Where was the yelling and applauding and foot-stomping and cursing and drive that we've grown accustomed to seeing?

 

LSU finished the regular season as a top-30 team and is primed for another NCAA run again next year. While Brady has signed all his 2005 prospects, his next bit of recruiting has to be from within and try to convince Bass to stay another year.

 

It won't be easy.

 

It's a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sports world and, despite finishing the regular season 13-3 and rising from the dead, despite blowing out Auburn and then taking Kentucky to overtime in the SEC Tournament, the debacle versus UAB overshadows that.

 

Brady just finished his eighth year at LSU. He's been to the NCAA Tournament three times. In 2000, the Tigers went to the round of 16.

 

Three years ago they went to the NIT and won one and lost one.

 

Two years ago, they faced Purdue in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and got pummeled.

 

Last year they went back to the NIT, losing to Oklahoma in the first round.

 

And then came this UAB game, which was eerily reminiscent of the loss to Purdue.

 

In that game, the players stunk it up and Brady appeared to be stunned by the outcome.

 

With two NIT and two NCAA appearances in the last four years, you could argue that LSU has become a top-40 program.

 

Is that good enough? Are first-round losses, three in those four years, acceptable?

 

Probably not at a school where the football team is just more than a year removed from a national championship, the women's basketball team might win one this year, the baseball team has five to show on that big scoreboard, the track teams have more than we can count, and the gymnasts might get one themselves this year.

 

Brady certainly won't lose his job, but he has to wonder about a couple of things:

 

First, after doing a tremendous job this season, he got no votes from any of his SEC counterparts in the league's coach-of-the-year voting.

 

Second, why has his team performed so remarkably below par the last two times it's played in the NCAA Tournament?

 

Incoming freshman Tasmin Mitchell is reputed to be one of the best players in the country. Accordingly, LSU will be good next year. If Bass stays, the Tigers could be great.

 

None of which means much if they can't get past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

 

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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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