DEVILLE: Was last year enough?

Is it enough? Entering his 10th season as coach of the LSU Tigers, has John Brady done to enough to finally get the respect of fans in the football dominated stronghold that is Baton Rouge?

Brady led the Tigers to their second SEC title under his watch a year ago as LSU dominated the league with a sparkling 14-2 record. But different from his previous conference championship in 2000, Brady took it a step farther.

 

Next to the 2005-06 SEC hardware sits the NCAA Atlanta Regional Championship trophy, earned when Brady's Tigers knocked off Texas to advance to the 2006 Final Four, the first for the program in two decades.

 

Is it enough?

 

Coming into last season, Brady detractors were still up in arms about the Tigers' early ousting from the 2005 NCAA Tournament at the hands of UAB. Fans began speculating about the coach's future and whether he had what it takes to lead LSU among the elite teams of college basketball.

 

The Tigers had suffered from poor attendance and late-season collapses the previous couple of years, and LSU fans grew restless, as it seemed every program on campus was thriving except men's basketball.

 

Brady and his Tigers answered the bell in a big way, not only sending a message to Tiger fans, but to all of college basketball. LSU rolled through the SEC, entered the Big Dance a 4th seed, knocked off the overall No. 1 seed in Duke and advanced all the way to the Final Four.

 

Let's just say Brady silenced his critics.

 

Throughout the offseason, Brady has grown into one of the most popular people on the LSU campus. Busier than ever, Brady, now the dean of SEC coaches, has been racing around as he and his team get ready to open another chapter of LSU basketball.

 

"We are like heroes around Baton Rouge," said sophomore guard Tasmin Mitchell. "When people see us around town, their eyes light up."

 

That won't be the only thing lighting up come this fall. With three starters back and a talented cast of newcomers, the Tigers expect to light up scoreboards in hopes of returning to the height of college basketball.

 

"A lot more people know who we are now, that we are LSU," said sophomore guard Garrett Temple. "As far as the people on campus, they are a lot more hyped about basketball."

 

The hype is definitely building as LSU enters the 2006-07 season ranked in or around the top 10 in almost every national poll. With a schedule stocked full of quality opponents, Tiger fans should be turning cartwheels as LSU has arrived as a force in college basketball.

 

"We have some really quality games up and down our schedule, and that is why we are hoping our fans will come out and support it," Brady said. "They got what they wanted, now let's see if they come out and support it."

 

The likes of Connecticut, Texas A&M, Wichita State and defending national champion Florida visit the Maravich Center this winter for what is gearing up to be one of the most anticipated seasons of Tiger basketball in years.

 

So was it enough a year ago?

 

Yes … for the time being.

 

But there are plenty of good things yet to come.

 

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Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag magazine. Reach him at matt@tigerrag.com.


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