TIGER RAG VIEWPOINT: Where Do We Stand?

In this week's installment of Tiger Rag's Where Do We Stand, it is all basketball.

Yes, it is almost April and we are still talking about basketball. Lately in Baton Rouge, that means women's hoops. Well, as of press time Monday morning, the Lady Tigers were still in the NCAA mix just hours away from an Elite Eight matchup with Stanford.

 

But this, the last week of March, we are talking men's hoops.

 

LSU, riding a wave of emotion and in almost storybook fashion, defeated No. 1 seed Duke and 2nd-seeded Texas last week advancing to the program's fourth-ever Final Four.

The Tigers will face UCLA Saturday night in Indianapolis for a chance to play for the national championship.

 

That's right, no stutter there. LSU's men's basketball team is two games away from a national championship. Yep, the same basketball team that couldn't get 10,000 fans to show up for a February game against Kentucky when they (LSU) were winning the SEC, is on the verge of making history.

 

The storylines are endless as LSU has reached the Final Four for the first time since 1986. From Garrett Temple's masterpiece versus J.J. Redick, to Tyrus Thomas' victory lap, to longtime sports information director Kent Lowe's climb to the top of the ladder, to a midnight pep-rally at the Maravich Center; it has been one of the most memorable three-day stretches in school history.

 

As for the tournament, if you still are holding onto your NCAA Bracket, you either are psychic or have a very powerful eraser. Not a single No. 1 seed reached the Final Four in a NCAA Tournament riddled with thrilling upsets.

 

It is all here – and more – in our latest rant.

 

 Well, well, well. Welcome back to college basketball's greatest stage LSU. The Tigers return to the Final Four for the time in 20 seasons. In 1986, Dale Brown took his 11th-seeded Tigers to the Final Four. Ironically, George Mason became the first 11-seed to reach the finals since LSU when they defeated UConn on Sunday.

 

This goes out to John Brady. Finally, the bashing can end. Fans have been so critical of the ninth-year head coach for a number of years now that the belly-aching is almost unbearable. Maybe now (especially if Brady could bring a national title home to Baton Rouge) the griping and ridiculous criticism can come to an end and a new chapter of LSU Basketball can begin.

 

To Garrett Temple. Arguably the most valuable player so far for these Tigers, Temple held the nation's most prolific active scorer J.J. Redick to a paltry 11 points as LSU knocked off No. 1 Duke 62-54 in the Sweet 16. The 11 points matched a season low for Redick, which he ironically scored against Temple - Owls that is.

 

To some 1,000 fans that gathered at the Maravich Center late Saturday night to greet the Tigers back to Baton Rouge after their 70-60 overtime victory over Texas in the Elite Eight. A rowdy crowd cheered as Darrel Mitchell, Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas addressed the crowd leading the mob in a series of cheers and chants.

 

To Tyrus Thomas. What a tournament Thomas has had so far? Blocked shots, bone crushing dunks, Thomas has wowed the national media and fans alike as the Tigers have raced to the Final Four behind a flurry of athleticism. Many analysts believe Thomas could be headed to the NBA next season, but Thomas had other news for the crowd at Saturday night's impromptu celebration. As the crowd chanted "one more year" when Thomas stepped to the microphone, the redshirt freshman replied "I ain't goin' nowhere."

 

To longtime sports information director Kent Lowe. One of the most respected figures in sports in  Louisiana, after 18 years of serving the LSU basketball program, Lowe smiled proudly as he climbed to the top of the ladder to help cut down the nets in Atlanta's Georgia Dome following the win over Texas.

 

To No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. For the first time since 1980, the Final Four will be without at least one No. 1 seed. Duke lost to LSU. Memphis fell to UCLA while UConn came up short against George Mason and Florida took care of Villanova. In 1980, Denny Crum's Louisville Cardinals knocked off UCLA for the national title.

 

To the LSU Lady Tigers for advancing to the program's sixth and fourth consecutive Elite Eight. Pokey Chatman's team defeated Florida Atlantic, Washington and DePaul and as of press time was prepping for Stanford for a chance to reach the program's third straight Final Four.

 

To the way by which the Lady Tigers went about reaching the Elite Eight. LSU has won 30 games this season and pride themselves on blitzkrieg-type offense and a suffocating defense. However, against its first three tournament opponents, LSU has looked flat, emotion-less and totally unenthused having to overcome poor first half efforts to win all three. It is hard to tell if the Lady Tigers are just bored or lacking motivation.

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