DEVILLE: Hoops now over, mum is the word for Miles

What a whopper of an issue we have for you this week. <br><br> As we enter our period of bi-monthly production, we present our Tiger Rag Magazine Special Golf Extra edition.

In this issue, we feature former LSU all-American David Toms as well as several other aspects of golf as it pertains to the Tigers. Spotlighting the LSU men's and women's golf teams, we chat with coaches Greg Jones and Karen Bahnsen as well as spotlight their home course – the University Club.


The U-Club features one of America's top golf instructors – that being former LSU golfer Chuck Winstead – we feature that as well.


Also check out our preview of the upcoming Zurich Classic of New Orleans.




While a large portion of the book is dedicated to putters, birdies and scorecards, we also bring to you an assortment of columnists – including our newest addition in ex-LSU great Doug Thompson – as well as coverage of the women's basketball team in the Final Four and the latest travails of the Tiger baseball team. Toss in some recruiting and it is all here.


Speaking of women's hoops, last season's 52-50 loss to Tennessee in the Final Four in New Orleans was heart-wrenching. LSU's 68-57 defeat to Baylor in the national semifinal at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis may have been worse.


When the Lady Tigers made their debut in the Final Four a year ago, LSU was a tournament Cinderella story. With ailing coach Sue Gunter absent, the Lady Tigers put together a memorable run through the NCAA Tournament landing in the program's first-ever national semifinal.


LSU's trip to the Final Four a year ago carried with it an attitude of "just happy to be here." When the Lady Tigers, under first-year head coach Pokey Chatman, defeated Duke earning a repeat trip to game's biggest stage, the team was on a mission to win what was rightfully theirs, the program's first national title.


Ranked No. 1 for most of the season, LSU was the prohibitive favorite to pick up the game's biggest prize. However, a very good Baylor team had other plans. Under the feisty Kim Mulkey-Robertson, the Lady Bears survived LSU's best shot – a 24-9, first-half deficit – and rallied from what was then the largest deficit in Final Four history to upset a shocked Lady Tiger team. Baylor beat three No. 1 seeds, the third being Michigan State two days later, en route to the program's first ever national title.


Baylor truly deserved the title for they were playing the best basketball when it mattered. However, it is small consolation for the Lady Tigers that again they get so close to the Promised Land but was again rudely denied a spot in the brass ring.


The look of disappointed was never more evident on the faces of Pokey Chatman. Even more so on the face of national player of the year Seimone Augustus. But no expression was more telling (or more painful) than that of senior point guard Temeka Johnson, who will end her career at LSU without a national title.


It is upsetting to think of Johnson, who played a major role in where the program has risen, leaving LSU without a ring. However, for the rest of the Lady Tigers, there will be another day in the sun.




With basketball season being officially over, the focus turns to the diamond, which is a good thing because that seems to be a very hot topic these days.


Most folks knew the Tiger softball team was going to struggle. A year removed from a third place finish at the women's college world series, replacing so many key players would be tough for Yvette Girouard's team. And that assessment was right on as LSU stands 5-12 in the SEC and as Girouard said Saturday after splitting a doubleheader with Kentucky, "we have no leadership. We are a shell of the team we were last year."


But what the heck is going on with Tiger baseball?


Usually this time of year allows LSU fans to hang their hats on the really true sure thing in Baton Rouge – winning baseball games and winning them convincingly. However, three straight weekends in which the Tigers have come out on the short end of the stick have the natives restless. LSU dropped two of three versus Auburn at home and at Alabama before returning home only to be swept by South Carolina.


The Tigers offense was more than underwhelming as LSU lost three straight weekend series for the first time since 1995 and are currently last in the SEC West. The Gamecocks, on the other hand, are tied for first in the SEC and the series victory was the program's first-ever in Baton Rouge.

There are serious grumblings from fans and the rumor mill is as heated as ever as pressure begins to build on coach Smoke Laval. Already in some fans' dog houses simply because he is not Skip Bertman, the groans are growing louder as the Tigers are showing no signs of improvement. A team billed as the best since Laval came to LSU in 2002 is struggling to hit the ball (at all). And while the starting pitching rotation hasn't been that bad, the bullpen has made up for it.


While the Tigers have a knack for turning things around quickly, Laval and Co. had better do something fast because in the toughest conference in America and as strong a field as ever in the SEC, things can get out of hand rather quickly if LSU doesn't get it together and soon.




Speaking of fans unhappy with coaches, the vocal majority of fans who oppose LSU basketball coach John Brady found another reason to fire bullets at the beleaguered ball coach.


Sophomore forward Ross Neltner became the 29th player to leave the LSU program under Brady's watch. That number is actually debatable depending on whom you ask, but the departure of one of the Tigers' more popular players got fans in a tizzy last week.


Neltner says he wishes to go somewhere else to garner more playing time and that can be somewhat understood due to the fact Tasmin Mitchell and Kentrell Gransberry are on their way to Baton Rouge, much less the fact Ty Thomas will be activated next season. However, there is some speculation out there that there might be more to Neltner's leaving than that. Who knows?




Finally, while we were a bit cramped for space this week with the special golf edition, we regret that we were limited in space we usually dedicate to spring football coverage. While we will have a full report in our April 24 edition, in which we will wrap up spring camp, breakdown the Tigers by position and make some early bird predictions, there are some tidbits to pass along from last Saturday's scrimmage.


First and foremost, while we have limited spring football information in this book, let's face it, you aren't missing much. While the media thought it got limited exposure when Nick Saban was here, welcome to the world of Les Miles. You actually get Les with Les. It is obvious Miles is trying to keep things very close to the vest this spring, but jeeezzz. The media is allowed a very limited amount of time at practice (individual drills only) and Miles is keeping things very low key in terms of how he is openly evaluating players. And probably with good reason, Miles has downplayed the quarterback situation and has limited the amount of analysis he gives on one particular player during chats with the media.


Following Saturday's scrimmage, Miles remained fairly tight-lipped and vague.


"We had a good go of it," Miles said. "The team is getting better in all three phases of the game. We rushed the ball well and hit some passes."


He did say that things got a bit hot with temperatures rising into the upper 80s.


"It got hot out here today, but the players continued to play hard. I enjoyed watching the team compete."


Miles did mention he felt as if Joseph Addai and Alley Broussard competed well. Reports indicate Broussard had a 75-yard touchdown run. As for the quarterbacks, Miles said they were "about even."


"They both played well at times," Miles said of JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn. "They have both made improvement this spring."


He did say he felt that the offense was a little farther along than the defense, which he said needs some work.


"The defense had a tough go of it early, but we put them in some tight situations in the redzone and on the goal line," Miles said. "The defense did a nice job later in the scrimmage."


Cornerback Ronnie Prude, who is expected to replace Travis Daniels, missed Saturday's scrimmage due to a death in the family. Miles said there were no major injuries in the scrimmage, but conflicting reports say Skyler Green left the field gimpy after working on punt returns and he did not return.




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

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