DEVILLE: Augustus' impact felt by many

Sunday will be Seimone Augustus' last home game as an LSU Lady Tiger, bringing to an end an impressive four-year run within the walls of the Pete Maravich Center.

There is no more decorated athlete ever to don purple and gold than Augustus, who will end her career as the program's second-leading scorer, and hopefully as a national champion.

This past Sunday, Augustus scored 26 points to lead LSU to a 64-42 thrashing of the Arkansas Lady Backs. Augustus moved into third place on the all-time LSU scoring list and helped the Lady Tigers move a step closer to the program's second straight SEC title.

It seems like just yesterday Augustus came to LSU in a whirlwind of publicity as Lady Tiger basketball jumped squarely on the women's college basketball map. In four years LSU has quickly grown from a hunter in the women's game to being the hunted, as the Lady Tigers leapt into the nation's elite field of teams and reached a pair of consecutive Final Fours.

But leaving the Maravich Center on Sunday, I began thinking about her impact on the game, not just nationally, but locally within the LSU landscape.

Sure, everyone is aware of what Augustus has done talent-wise for the Lady Tigers. Her baseline jumper is to die for, and her ball handling skills and wicked crossover have left even the best guards in the country rubber-legged.

When Augustus came to LSU, the number of season ticket holders quintupled and fans immediately began making plans to come and check out the phenom from Capitol High School. There were doubters who viewed Augustus and the Lady Tigers as the flavor of the month, but Augustus transformed the attitudes of an entire fan base and made women's basketball much more than something trendy to do on a Thursday night.

Augustus brought a certain flair to the program that made women's college basketball fashionable in the football hub of Baton Rouge.

But beyond that, I tried to ponder what her legacy will be after her four-year stay in south Baton Rouge. I couldn't nail down one specific thing, but I will share a couple of telling examples.

As many of you know, I am soon to be married (in May).

My fiancé, Beth, is a season ticket holder to women's basketball at LSU. When we go to the games, I have to work on press row while she sits in the stands. My good friend, Donnie, goes with us to the games and sits with Beth so she does not have to enjoy the game alone.

I know, I know, I am getting to the point.

Late last week, I told Donnie to come over to the house after work to hang out and enjoy a couple of adult beverages. With no prior knowledge of what would be showing on ESPN, I simply clicked on the television on the patio to the Worldwide Leader in Sports as we chatted about sports and work, etc.

About that time, ESPN2 began its broadcast of the Tennessee-Georgia ladies basketball game live from Athens. Donnie has grown into quite a women's hoops fan and having attended Louisiana Tech, he already has plenty of knowledge about the women's game.

About an hour and a half later, Donnie and I are both shouting at the television set wondering how in the world the Lady Bulldogs could blow a 14-point second half lead to an ailing Tennessee team.

About that time, the ESPN Bottomline Scoreboard showed LSU and Florida were tied at the end of regulation and were heading into overtime in Gainesville. Never did either of us imagine that game would ever reach overtime.

I scrambled inside, scooping up a radio which I carried outside and placed on top of the television. I muted the UT/UGA game and tuned into Patrick Wright's call of the game just in time to hear LSU lose in the first extra period.

We both let out a bellow is disgust.

About that time I looked at Donnie and said, "Do you think it is possible anywhere else, that two grown men are sitting somewhere, drinking beer, watching and listening to two different women's basketball games at the same time?"

We both laughed.

All of that came back to me Sunday afternoon. Had it not been for Seimone Augustus, there is no way that would have happened.

I chatted with Gannett News Service beat writer Glenn Guilbeau after last Sunday's game about Augustus' impact on the LSU sports terrain. We talked about how deserving Augustus is of having her number retired following her senior season.

Guilbeau asked why she deserved that honor. I responded, "The difference in women's basketball here before Augustus arrived and the present day is totally clear. Today, there were 13,468 fans in attendance. The difference between now and before Augustus got here is about 13,000 fans."

Guilbeau agreed.

When leaving the arena, Beth and I walked up the northwest portal past the women's basketball locker room. I need not look any further for the answer to my question about Augustus' impact at LSU.

Some three hundred fans were lined up outside the Lady Tigers locker room, waiting patiently for Augustus as she frantically signed one autograph after another.

Thank you, Seimone.


Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at

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