TIGER RAG VIEWPOINT: Where do we Stand?

In this week's installment of Tiger Rag's Where Do We Stand, we can finally close the book on the LSU Tigers and Lady Tigers basketball seasons.

Unfortunately, after a buzz that reached frenzied proportions, both the LSU men and women bowed out of their respective Final Fours quite unceremoniously. Both teams shouldered double digit losses in a pair of games they were never in doubt and ones all involved would rather forget.


Despite enduring the worst loss in three seasons to Duke in the Final Four, Seimone Augustus has picked up plenty of hardware and logged another first since the 19-point loss.


The men got roughed up by UCLA, but had the pleasure of watching the Bruins get pounded in the same dominating fashion in the national title game. Although one Tiger stars looks to be headed to the pro ranks, coach John Brady is brimming with confidence as LSU projects to be one of the top teams I the nation next season.


As basketball closes, Tiger fans are going to have little to cheer about this spring, that is if you aren't a softball fan. Coach Yvette Girouard's Softball Tigers are rolling through SEC play. However, the storied baseball program is tied for last place in the SEC West, and that is coming off a series victory at Tennessee. Ouch!


It is all here and more in our latest rant.



One last time, we would like to say congratulations to the LSU men's and women's basketball teams for reaching the Final Four. It was the fourth trip to the round of four for the Tigers while the Lady Tigers reached the national semifinals for the third time, all of which have come in successive seasons.


While it was nice to get to the Final Four, no LSU basketball team – men's or women's – has won a game in the round of four. The Tigers got blasted by UCLA 59-45 and the women were embarrassed by Duke 64-45. The experience was a positive one for the university and helped further promote LSU athletics as one of the nation's most complete departments in all of the NCAA.


Speaking of LSU being cast in a positive light, only North Carolina and LSU share the distinction of having its football team and men's and women's basketball teams finish in the top five in the same season. The Tar Heels did it in 1997-98 while LSU's football program finished 5th, men's hoops finished third and the women's basketball team closing out the season at No. 4.


Seimone Augustus and Darrel Mitchell deserved to go out as national champions, but both watched their careers close two wins short of the top prize. However, it was a fitting send off for two great players to get to visit the Final Four in the final games of their respective and impressive careers.


Speaking of Augustus, has the all-American Lady Tigers reached an elite status. Some may argue Pete Maravich or Shaquille O'Neal, maybe Billy Cannon or Tommy Cassanova are the most decorated LSU athletes of all time. However, for the second straight Augustus nabbed national player of the year honors including the Wade, Naismith and Wooden trophies, a feat of unparalleled proportions. Is Augustus LSU's most decorated athlete ever? Maybe so.


While Augustus racked up a truckload of hardware over the last two weeks, the elusive national title will be the only vacancy in her trophy case. However, Augustus had the sting of a third straight Final Four loss eased when the Minnesota Lynx drafted the 6-1 Baton Rouge native No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft. Scholanda Hoston was taken as the last pick (14th) in the first round by Sacramento.


Do you see a trend here? LSU's men's basketball team won the outright SEC title, had the SEC player of the year and advanced to the Final Four. The Lady Tigers won the SEC title outright, had the SEC player of the year and advanced to the Final Four. Seimone Augustus was taken as the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft. Tyrus Thomas is projected by some services as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Will history repeat itself?


To a pair of deserving national champions. Has there ever been a better NCAA Tournament than the 2006 version of the Big Dance? Not sure, but after three weeks of exciting battles, the Florida gators emerged as the last team standing and deserved to be national champions. Joakim Noah earned the respect of critics and doubters everywhere as coach Billy Donovan's team blistered UCLA to win the school's first ever national title and become the third program from the SEC to win the whole thing. Maryland gets major kudos on the women's side knocking off Duke for the national championship. Coach Brenda Freise's team rallied from a sizeable deficit to upend the Blue Devils in overtime.

To former Indiana coach Mike Davis. After being cast into near obscurity in Bloomington, Davis was hired by UAB to fill the vacancy left by new Missouri coach Mike Anderson. The Blazers welcomed Davis with open arms and will pay him over $1 million to coach UAB next season.


To Rudy Niswanger. LSU offensive lineman Rudy Niswanger, along with Florida women's basketball player Sarah Lowe, have been named recipients of the 2005-2006 H. Boyd McWhorter Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athletes of the Year Award. The two were chosen by a committee of Faculty Athletics Representatives from SEC universities. Both will receive a $10,000 post-graduate scholarship. "The H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award is the highest honor a student-athlete can receive in the Southeastern Conference," said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive. "Sarah and Rudy have displayed dedication and commitment to success in all phases of their lives that have made them excellent selections for the McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Award. The SEC is extremely proud to honor these two student-athletes for their accomplishments."


To the loss of Army coach Maggie Dixon. Just weeks after she her Army squad to the Patriot League title and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament, Dixon, the sister of Pitt coach Jamie Dixon, died of a heart abnormality at age 28. Just seven months after becoming Army's coach, Dixon's funeral was held Tuesday on the West Point campus.

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