As we near the end of February, that means March is just around the corner. And with March comes madness as the regular season comes to ca close and tournament time begins.
The LSU Tigers are soaring toward the postseason as John Brady's team heads into the final week of the regular season all alone atop the SEC standings. The Tigers four-point win over Kentucky coupled with Tennessee's three-point loss to feisty Arkansas propelled the Tigers into sole possession of the top spot.
LSU beat the Wildcats for only the 22 time in the program's history (Kentucky has won 76 times) and Brady picked up his second win over Big Blue, the first since 2000 when his Tigers won the league. Two more wins this week at South Carolina and in the regular season finale against Ole Miss and the Tigers won't have to do what they did in 2000, that is share the league crown. It will be all theirs for the first time since 1985.
"I think it is a big win, regardless of where Kentucky is in the SEC" said LSU junior forward Darnell Lazare. "They've built themselves to a place where everyone is trying to get."
On the women's basketball front, a whirlwind week of interviews and press conferences came to an end as Seimone Augustus said goodbye to the home crowds of the Pete Maravich Center Sunday afternoon. A four-year run of success came to an end with a tearful goodbye from the reigning national player of the year as an adoring mass of people turned out to bid adieu Baton Rouge's homegrown star.
On Sunday, Augustus added to a collection of achievements, including a move into second place on the all-time scoring list. She also set a school record for games started in her career.
The only thing missing Sunday was her number hanging in the rafters of the Maravich Center. More on that in a minute.
It's all here in our latest rant.
It was like old times at the Maravich Center. With former coach Dale Brown in the building, the Tigers battled Kentucky and came out on top 71-67. Brown beat Bog Blue eight times in his career as the coach of LSU. The Wildcats were the Tigers biggest rival throughout the 80s as some of the program's most memorable games came against the visitors from the Bluegrass State. It was win No. 2 for John Brady against Kentucky, but with it the Tigers clinched the SEC Western Division title and leapt into sole possession of first place for the overall league lead.
If it was such a big day Saturday, why were there only 9,672 people n the building? This rant is getting old, like kicking a dead horse, but why won't people turn out to watch this basketball team. Sure it was raining. Sure it was Mardi Gras weekend. Sure the game was televised. But there is no reason why the Maravich Center shouldn't have been full Saturday. Sure there were factors that could have affected attendance, but there are still those who would rather stay away because they dislike John Brady. Don't punish the athletes on the floor just because you might not be a fan of the coach. There have earned the right to have the support of fans and they didn't get that Saturday.
To assistant athletic director Bo Bahnsen and the wonderful job he did coordinating the 20-year 1986 Final Four reunion last weekend. Bahnsen managed to attract every player from the team except for Jose Vargas, who is still playing professionally in Brazil. Even the parents of the late Don Redden were on hand standing in for their departed son. The team got together for a banquet Friday night then were honored at halftime of the game Saturday along with coach Dale Brown.
To one of the more interesting twists of Saturday's reunion celebration. Anthony Wilson hit the game-winning shot with two seconds left as LSU beat Memphis State 83-81 in the second round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament in the Maravich Center to advance to the Sweet 16. After his shot took several bounces and dropped through the net, he grabbed the ball and hurled it into the stands. Several members of the Aycock family, who caught the ball Wilson flung into the bleachers, were on hand to present the ball to Wilson, much to his surprise, during a timeout of Saturday's game. After being handed the ball, Wilson turned around and tossed the ball up toward the goal. It took several bounces, eerily similar to his famous shot, then dropped through the net. The crowd exploded with cheers.
To a little playful taunting. It is customary for the LSU student section to hold up newspapers and rattle them while the opposing team is introduced, after which they wad up the paper and hurl it toward the floor. Saturday, a couple of brave Kentucky fans were seated in the premium courtside seats in the Maravich Center, almost directly in front of the rowdy student section. When it came time to toss the paper toward the floor, you guessed it. The Wildcat fans, who were decked out in royal blue, were pelted with wads of newspaper. They turned and waved to the crowd as if they knew it was coming.
To Seimone Augustus. Augustus showed up Saturday to wish the men good luck as they were getting set to battle Kentucky. She also thanked the men's hoop patrons for their support of the Lady Tigers program and invited them all to attend her last game Sunday. She received a standing ovation.
Now for the soapbox moment. LSU conducted two press conferences last week for Augustus as she prepared for her last home game as a Lady Tiger. In a press luncheon last Tuesday, LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said there were several special events planned to commemorate Augustus farewell to the LSU campus; however, it would not be possible for her number to be retired as that requires a five-year waiting period. Not satisfied with Bertman's explanation, Tiger Rag asked Lady Tigers' sports information director Brian Miller just why the waiting period was in place. Miller explained to have a number retired, one must have won some sort of national award and be a graduate of the university, both of which Augustus has done. She is the reigning national player of the year and an LSU graduate after just three and a half years. Both Pete Maravich and Shaquille O'neal each won national awards as juniors, but at the time were not graduates. Augustus has achieved both yet no exceptions were made. Hasn't Augustus done enough to get the rules bent a bit? Not only did she catapult the Lady Tigers' program to elite status, not to mention a pair of Final Fours, she bolstered awareness of the university and increased ticket sales exponentially. She is a home grown talent, is extremely popular, is a good citizen and deserves to be honored with her number retired wile she is still wearing it. We know, rules are rules, but LSU really dropped the ball on this one.
This is a new feature for the Where Do We Stand section of Tiger Rag. Every week, we will try something interesting that is recorded or overheard during the week. It is only appropriate our first quote of the week comes from LSU basketball coach John Brady.
"We will practice at 10 o'clock Monday morning and fly out at 1:30 Monday afternoon. We are going to take a charter. We aren't going to bus."
- John Brady talking about his team traveling to South Carolina. Brady was criticized by some JP Sports commentators after he chose to bus his team to Auburn