FEINSWOG: Team-a-meter

And so the sun sets on another LSU sports school year. Thanks to LSUsports.net, we have the LSU team-o-meter. They don't call it that, but it sounds good.

It's a listing of all 20 teams that LSU fields in NCAA competition.


Seven of them were not ranked at the end of their respective seasons: Men's basketball, soccer, softball, women's swimming and diving, women's outdoor track and field, women's tennis and volleyball.


In order:

The men's basketball team made the NCAA Tournament, went one and done, but has a great recruiting class coming in.


The soccer team has a new coach.


The softball finish was an aberration and LSU signed the best pitcher in the nation.


The women's swimming and diving team? Can't help you there.


Women's outdoor track and field? The program that won 22 indoor and outdoor NCAA titles from 1986-2004, is evidently, "rebuilding" under a first-year coach.


Women's tennis? Can't help you there, either. Volleyball? That I know. Things are on track for a big season because of who's back and who's coming in.


Hard fact: Of those seven LSU teams that didn't get ranked, in terms of money and interest, the one that matters for our purposes is men's basketball.


That team could have actually challenged for the 2006 Final Four. But the immature, premature and financially foolish decision of Brandon Bass to enter the NBA Draft will make that highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the LSU men's basketball team should be highly competitive in the Southeastern Conference again next season and should make another NCAA Tournament showing.


The most commonly asked question in our area now is simply, "How do you think Les Miles will do?"


I think this: He'll be just fine. LSU should have a fabulous 2005 season. The schedule, while always tough, is as favorable as it can be. Graduation losses were heavy, but the returning roster is extremely talented and a few of the recruits will help right away.


Can LSU avoid injuries? Will kids keep out of trouble? Will the not-so-round ball bounce the Tigers' way when it matters? Those are the variables neither Miles nor fans can control.


But he is most impressive so far. His tough times will come in 2006 and beyond when the so-called honeymoon is over and he'll have to sustain the program with top-ranked recruiting classes.


In the meantime, LSU and its fans should celebrate this past year.


The football team went to another major bowl. The women's basketball team made it to the Final Four. The baseball team got to be the host for an NCAA Regional (yeah, yeah, all you Smoke bashers give it a rest for the summer, renew your season tickets and then really put him on the hot seat next spring). The gymnastics team again came oh, so close to winning that elusive national championship. I really hope that one day before she gets out that D-D Breaux and her team win it all.


I know you're probably not too concerned about the rest of the lot, but the men's and women's golf teams and the cross country entries and the men's swimmers and divers and the men's track teams and, well, they're all OK.


So get ready for 2005-06, hope that the stadium project is ready for the football opener and hope that this time next year this column can be reviewing a few LSU national championships.




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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