"We never knew we were going to be
in this situation,"
Three months ago, no one could have
imagined the Tigers would be one of four teams left standing after four rounds
of the Big Dance. In early January, LSU was 8-5 on the year heading into SEC
play. However, those five losses came by a combined 11 points, including a
one-point loss against eventual No. 1 seed UConn and a two-point defeat at
"It shows a lot of character for
our team being so young, we have went through a lot of trials and tribulations
as far as
Speaking of tight situations, LSU was an eyelash from being bounced out of the NCAA Tournament in the second round. But Darrel Mitchell, the only senior on the roster, hit a long range three-pointer with 10 seconds left to push LSU past Texas A&M 58-57.
In that earlier loss to UConn, Mitchell and the Tigers weren't so lucky. Mitchell missed a game-winning three-pointer with just seconds left to lose 67-66.
"After the Connecticut loss I kind of was down on myself a little bit because I had a chance to pull us through that game with that last shot and that kind of hurt me deep down inside," Mitchell said. "I think that brought us together as a team and was an eye-opening experience for us and our capabilities as a team. And as individuals what we could do, to go on the road early in the season with the team that we had and we weren't even established as good as we are now."
Oh boy how good is this team now?
Since that loss to
UConn will be watching the national championship from home as the Huskies were bounced out in the Elite Eight by, ironically, the second 11th seed to ever reach the Final Four – George Mason.
It is the Tigers' fourth-ever trip
to the national semifinals having reached the Final Four in 1953, 1981 and the
aforementioned trip in 1986. In 53 and 81,
Coach John Brady and his team have the opportunity to advance farther than any team in LSU basketball history. Many think the Tigers have what it takes to win the top prize. Brady says he and his team do not just think they can win, they can feel it.
"I'll be honest with you, you know, the celebration was great. I knew we were going to win the game, but there's something in my mind that says we're not finished yet," Brady said. "And I don't feel like this is over. I thought I would react differently, to be quite honest.
"Going to the Final Four, that's where it is. But when I was talking with Glen, walking down the hall and he agreed with me, for some reason this doesn't seem like the end to me or I'm not all overwhelmed by the moment. Because there's some more work to do. And maybe there's something more in store for this team. Who knows?"
If the Tigers continue to play at
the level at which they have performed thus far, there is no question this team
can enjoy "One Shining Moment" come April 3 in
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger
Rag magazine. Reach him at