Former Voice of the Tigers optimistic for 2002

LSU's legendary play-by-play voice John Ferguson predicts LSU will be favored in every contest in 2002, even the road assignment at Florida.

LSU's legendary play-by-play voice John Ferguson remains a fixture on campus, reporting to his office at the Tiger Athletics Foundation every day. Ferguson, who was the Voice of the Tigers for parts of five decades before handing over the microphone to Jim Hawthorne, continues to follow LSU's footballers with the same curiosity that made him a nationally revered authority on the game.


Ferguson predicts LSU will be favored in every contest in 2002, even the road assignment at Florida. The broadcaster, who was synonymous with LSU football for generations of fans who followed the Tigers on their radio dials, believes Nick Saban will be the catalyst for another memorable year for LSU this fall.


Many of us who witnessed the spring game last month came away with questions about LSU's talent at quarterback. With a season-ending injury to Marcus Randall, Matt Mauck is the unchallenged starter. Mauck fired five interceptions in the spring game and has miles to travel to catch up to the departed Roahn Davey.


But Ferguson is confident the 23-year-old Mauck will play well enough for LSU to emerge as a national contender in 2002.


Florida LSU Athletics Director Joe Dean turned 72 last month and attended his 35th consecutive Kentucky Derby a few weeks later in Louisville, Ky. Dean shares his love of the thoroughbreds with televangelist Pat Robertson, has become immersed in the industry to the point of paying $125,000 for a stud fee in his bid to breed a champion.


Robertson, also 72, is a month older than Dean and runs Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. The minister could do a lot worse than seek an old warhorse like Dean to run his athletic department. The two obviously have a few things in common.

In fact, they may have run into each other at Churchill Downs.


Dale Brown says he's tracked down 154 of the 160 players who were on his roundball roster at LSU for 1972-97. The six players he is looking to find are DeWayne Scales, Bob Miller, Mark Smyth, Quenton Thomas, Paulo Simoes and Anthony Doyley. Brown's office number in Baton Rouge is (225) 387-2233 if anyone knows the whereabouts of these former Tigers.


Brown says blacks outnumbered white, 89 to 71, in his 25 years at LSU with Collis Temple being the first African-American to play basketball at LSU. Temple was also the first of 18 athletics coached by Brown at Tigertown to play in the NBA.


Daddy Dale says he holds the record with ten of his athletes leaving school early to enter the NBA draft. Brown disciples who were NBA hardship cases were Jerry Reynolds, Shaquille O'Neal, Stanley Roberts, Chris Jackson, Hernando Montenegro, Jamie Brandon, Ronnie Hendson, Randy Livingston, DeWayne Scales and John Williams. Of this group, only Brandon and Henderson failed to make the cut in the NBA.


Other Brown-coached NBA players include Collis Temple, Glenn Hansen, Kenny Higgs, Howard Carter, Ricky Blanton, Rudy Macklin, Steffond Johnson, Tito Horford, John Rudd and Geert Hammink. Two of his other pupils, Ben McDonald and Lyle Mouton, played Major League baseball.


Shaquille O'Neal's free throw percentage improved slightly this season. He converted 389 of 717 attempts for a 55.5 percent clip. The 30-year-old center led the league with a 57.9 field goal percentage and averaged 27.2 points a game for the Los Angeles Lakers.


Stromile Swift averaged 11.8 points for the Memphis Grizzlies in his second NBA season. Swift was successful on 48 percent of his field goal attempts and 71 percent of his free throw tries.


Among NBA players with at least 1,100 career free throws, the career leader in percentage from the line is former Tiger Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (Chris Jackson) who has a 90.5 accuracy rate from the line and led the league twice in percentage for a single season.

Mark Price is second at 90.4 percent and Rick Barry is third at 90.0.

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