DEVILLE: LSU needs "Major League" motivation

I am not one for sequels. Usually when a movie spawns a sequel, the second film is never as good as the first one.

That may be the case for the LSU Basketball team in 2007.


A year ago, John Brady's team won 27 games, the SEC title and made it all the way to the Final Four. Less than a year later, the memories of that historic drive to the pinnacle of college basketball are quickly fading.


As I sat courtside at the Pete Maravich Center watching the Tigers losing to Vanderbilt last Wednesday, one of my favorite movies came to mind.


No doubt, the end-all, be-all of sports movies was the 1989 film Major League. Rick Vaughn, Pedro Cerrano, Willie "Mays" Hays; yeah, you know the one.


That zany comedy flick where ex-stripper Rachel Phelps inherits the Cleveland Indians when her husband dies. Tired of Cleveland and its crummy baseball team, Phelps wants to move the team to California. So she concocts a plan to assemble a team so bad that attendance will slump so low that the league will allow her to relocate the team.


Well, what does the pathetic gaggle of also-rans go and do?  They win the division, much to the dismay of Phelps. Behind the strong arm of Vaughn and Cerrano's mammoth voodoo bat at the plate, the laughable Indians win over the hearts of the Cleveland fans.


No doubt, a great movie.


But when Major League II was released five years later, I groaned at the fact it would ruin the magic of the first one with the sequel jinx.


Not so fast.


In my opinion, the second one may have been better than the first. I know you are saying, ‘you're crazy,' but indulge me.


The defending division champion Indians were the darling of Cleveland as the next season looked to open with a glorious beginning. In the offseason, the Tribe acquired slugger Jack Parkman, whose big bat in the lineup was sure to get the Indians to the World Series for the first time ever.


But look what else happened during that magical offseason.



Vaughn cleaned up his ex-con image, changed his hair cut, got a babe of a girlfriend and began naming his pitches, many of which found a new home in the outfield bleachers.


Sound familiar?


When Glen Davis came to LSU, his "Big Baby" image was captivating. Fans couldn't get enough of the "Round Mound of Rebound" and in his second year, Davis, all 350-plus pounds of him, was named the SEC Player of the Year and led the Tigers to the Final Four, the program's first in 20 years.


Now a junior, Davis has shed some 50 pounds, has been smiling for every camera within range and has now extended his game to the perimeter in hopes of wooing NBA scouts. Rarely do you see Davis pounding away in the paint like the days of old. Instead he spends half the time hovering around the perimeter, mainly at the free throw line, as LSU gets outrebounded time and again.


Remember, Vaughn spent the entire season mired in an awful slump, but got back to basics in the end and won the big game. Not saying that Davis is in a slump, but getting back to what made him a tremendous college player may make the difference.


Moving on down the all-star cast, there's Hays. Played in the first movie by Wesley Snipes, by the time the second film came to fruition Snipes was too big-time to return to the lineup so the producers settled on Omar Epps to play the colorful centerfielder. Epps was likeable, but wasn't quite as good at playing Hays as his predecessor Snipes.


Sounds a lot like Darrel Mitchell, don't you think? Mitchell was the Tigers heart and soul a year ago. The savior of many games, Mitchell could knock down the open three-pointer and give LSU that emotional lift at key times in any game.


This season, Texas Tech transfer Terry Martin was hyped as Mitchell's replacement. And while he has had his moments, Martin is no doubt Mitchell's Omar Epps. Martin is not expected to make any low budget Hollywood films with Jesse "The Body" Ventura, but he is expected to become more consistent from beyond the three-point line – and fast.


Parkman was supposed to get the Indians over the hump by bringing more home runs to Cleveland – along with a really foul demeanor. But as the team slumped Parkman packed his bags leaving the Indians for the White Sox.


Not saying Dameon Mason is going anywhere soon and his demeanor is much more pleasant than Parkman's. But we have been hearing for two seasons how Mason was going to bring so much to the Tigers after transferring from Marquette. But after 19 games, Mason was averaging just 6.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.


Just for comic relief, Bob Uecker played the illustrious alcoholic Harry Doyle, the Indians radio broadcaster. I know for a fact LSU play-by-play man Jim Hawthorne doesn't kick back the Wild Turkey on air the way Doyle did. But if the Tigers current trends continue, Hawthorne is going to send color analyst Kevin Ford out for pregame beer runs.


Whenever I watch Major League II, I cannot help but love Randy Quaid's character. The disillusioned, fair-weather fan who turns on his beloved Indians after their awful start represents those LSU fans out there, the ones who flooded the message boards on Sunday calling for Brady's job. The angry mob was calling for blood throughout most of last week and Sunday's loss at Georgia punctuated a long week for the Tigers' coach.


But how quickly Quaid's character changed his tune when Vaughn and the Indians rallied back to beat Parkman and the White Sox to advance to the World Series. Those same LSU fans that cursed Brady and his team last week were the very ones that cheered them all the way to the Final Four just 10 months ago.


And what about Brady?


There are plenty of parallels between he and the Indians skipper – Lou Brown. Brown was brought to Cleveland after coaching the minor league Toledo Mud Hens, no doubt a move by Phelps designed to help the Indians fail.


When Brady was brought to LSU from tiny Samford University, it was not a situation that many coaches could have come into and been successful. But after 10 seasons, the first six spent mired down in NCAA sanctions, Brady has won the SEC twice, advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2000 and the Final Four last year.


Much like Brown, Brady has succeeded under the most adverse of conditions.


Halfway through the season on the movie Major League II, Brown bellowed to one of his assistant coaches, "This team has completely lost its focus." Brown was alluding to the fact that the key players in the previous season's success had gotten so wrapped up in the hoopla that they weren't actually focusing on baseball.


Brown eventually motivated his team with a passionate locker room speech that propelled the Indians to the World Series.


Let's just hope Brady can do the same, but unlike Brown, without having a heart attack in the process.




Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at

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