REPORT CARD: Men's Pre-Conference Report

It almost seems like it happens the same way every year.

What else can go wrong for coach John Brady and the LSU Tigers?


From injuries to unhappy athletes to players leaving for the NBA, no matter what type of attrition it may be, it seems in some way it happens each year.


Coming into the 2005-06 season, Brady was already faced with the task of replacing the SEC Player of the Year Brandon Bass, who bolted for the pros after his sophomore season.


But with reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Glen Davis along with a talented recruiting class coming in, expectations were high for the Bayou Bengals. A tough schedule was on the horizon, but there was plenty of talent on the roster and expectations were high.


The Tigers were dealt their first blow when juco big man Kentrell Gransberry left the team before the season even got going. LSU was already without Tack Minor, who was serving an academic suspension, but he was due back in mid December.


The Tigers opened the year with a bang registering possibly one of the biggest victories of the Brady era going on the road to defeat No. 13 West Virginia. LSU jumped into the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons and folks were talking hoops in Baton Rouge in November for the first time in years.


But on the same day the Tigers entered the poll, a hot-handed Houston club came to Baton Rouge and shocked LSU for the third year in a row beating the Tigers 84-83.


The loss was a difficult one for the Tigers, who then had to wait 10 days until they played again. LSUY knocked off McNeese, UNO and ULL before upstart mid-major Northern Iowa rolled into town.


UNI used a suffocating defense dealing the Tigers another blow beating Brady's bunch 54-50. The holidays brought about two more difficult opponents in Cincinnati in Las Vegas and a tough trip to Columbus to face No. 20 Ohio State.


Both were daunting tasks, but with Minor back to run the offense, the playing field would be more level. But the second huge blow of the year came in the form of Minor, who played in all of three games, going down with a torn meniscus, which required surgery.


The Tigers blew a five point lead in the final minute to lose to Cincinnati then squandered a 12-point advantage in the final four minutes losing to Ohio State.


LSU has played well in every game and has been competitive enough to be undefeated. But each game brought about different challenges in the fact that Houston and Ohio State got hot from the three-point arc and LSU missed seven of 10 free throws in losing to UNI.


Missed free throws and a multitude of turnovers at the guard position have plagued the Tigers and has eventually been their undoing.



The Backcourt:


Darrel Mitchell leads the SEC in scoring and has done everything a senior leader should. But, the 5-10 sparkplug can't do everything and he has been slowed by having to run the point in Minor's absence.


Garrett Temple has been starting at guard and is a great defender, but his inability to score kills LSU as defenders don't bother guarding Temple and double down on Davis in the paint.


Ben Voogd steps in and offers some quality minutes, but lacks experience and quickness and cannot provide as much offense as they need.


Tasmin Mitchell is growing into a terrific swingman, but while he can pull up and shoot from the perimeter as well bang inside, he has suffered from freshman inconsistency.


Turnovers are costly and until the Tigers clean that up, they will struggle.


Grade: C+





For the first time since the days of Stromile Swift and Jabari Smith, LSU has great size in the low post.


Glen Davis is one of the league's best players with a slimmer build; however, he has lost some of his dominance in the paint registering below the 300-pound mark.


Tyrus Thomas may be the best player on the team right now playing well above the rim rebounding, dunking and blocking shots. But he struggles with consistency as any freshman does.


Darnell Lazare has had his moments and is leaps and bounds better than he has been in the past. But a junior should be playing with more consistency.


Magnum Rolle and Chris Johnson and tall, lanky guys who are way above the rim, but their frames are a bit slim and they get pushed around a bit. However, they do project to be great players in the future.


Grade: B-





The Tigers will be fine as this young bunch grows with every game.


The schedule has been tough, but the good thing is LSU has been competitive in every contest. While some fans may be growing impatient with these losses, close losses to good teams are much better for this group than blowouts over a soft schedule.

Look for LSU to get it together and make a nice run against SEC competition.

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