MULE': Tigers frenzied run comes to an end

Whew. That was some kind of flameout of LSU's Improbable Dream.

In running their all-time Final Four record to 0-6 (counting the now defunct consolation game), against UCLA the Tigers couldn't shoot straight (32 percent from the field) and couldn't control the ball (15 turnovers, 11 in the first half when the game was decided).


It really makes one wonder how any team could go so far without a semblance of an outside threat. 


As bad as LSU looked against the Bruins – and that was as bad as anything seen on the Tiger athletic scene since the Curley Hallman era in football – it wasn't any worse than keeping track of media turnovers during the Tigers' run in the NCAA tournament – which did constitute a surprising four victories against one pitiful defeat for anyone keeping score.


Nobody ever seemed to peg these Tigers right, from the flock of naysayers through the regular season to Dickie V, and others of his wide-eyed ilk after the Duke and Texas victories, picking them to win it all.


As exposed as LSU was against UCLA, the NCAAs annually seems to expose the media's talking heads, local as well as national.


They would have us believe they know all, of course – though the Tigers' post-season is the latest proof they don't at all. This isn't condemnation. We all make mistakes, this corner as much as any. And nobody that I know, at any time or any place, picked LSU to make the Final Four before, during, or immediately after the regular season.


But almost nothing is worse than the know-it-all comments by smirking sportscasters – apparently held to a much lower standard than print reporters who may have to justify what they write to higher-ups before their words are seen by the public – who seem to make up their assessments as they went along.


Almost nothing, I will admit, is more satisfying than adding up all the on-the-air gaffes, national and local, we've heard about the round-ball Bayou Bengals in recent times.


ESPN's Doug Gottleib could hardly have looked dumber than after LSU displaced No. 1-seed Duke when he implied the Tigers got away with one and that Texas would spank them good because LSU, as athletic as it is, makes "bad decisions.'' Every team makes some decisions it would like to have back in every game it plays. LSU did make some against the Longhorns, but as the basketball world knows, prevailed in overtime.


Gottleib, it should be noted, made no mention of his prediction afterward.


CBS' Seth Davis added his own bit of expertise to the mix when he said LSU was in trouble because now the Tigers will be facing opponents with just as much athleticism and inside mobility as they have. "No, they won't,'' anchor Greg Gumbel corrected as the credits were rolling. "LSU may face some very good teams, but none with more athleticism inside as they have.''


It was the equivalent of a student getting his knuckles rapped by a stern teacher.


On the local airways an on-going theme since the season began was that the SEC was "down'' this season, too young to be any kind of factor in the national picture. If we heard that once we've heard it a thousand times from radio talk-show hosts and fans, many of whom like to think of themselves as "experts,'' parroting the thought.


So after LSU and Florida made their separate ways to the Final Four, giving the SEC half the elite field, what was the first thing we heard on Baton Rouge radio? "Oh, yeah,'' exclaimed one listener, "where are all those national people now, downgrading the SEC, which now has two contenders?''


Instead of pointing out that it was really a consensus opinion, one expressed on the air many times by the host himself, the man behind the mike said, "Yeah, they're not saying much about that right now, are they?"


That would be a no. At least until the first call of next season.  


Marty Mule' can be reached at

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