FEINSWOG: How much is on Brady?

While appreciating the great run but bemoaning the end of the line for the Southern Illinois University basketball team …

Tiger Rag editor Matt Deville reports getting ripped for not blaming John Brady entirely for the demise of the LSU basketball team this season.


Tough job Matt has, because Brady may have done one of his better coaching jobs, all things considered.


From last year's Final Four team he lost the best defensive player the program has seen in forever in Tyrus Thomas, who actually is making a meaningful contribution to the Chicago Bulls. He lost the only real shooter he had in Darrel Mitchell, who also held the team together and made clutch plays.


As this season got underway, he eventually lost his best point guard, Tack Minor, a marvelous physical specimen who never could get it right above his neck. He got at midseason a shooter, Terry Martin, who is streaky at best and who thinks defense is something the other guys should play.


His team got banged up, and by the end, Garrett Temple had a badly bruised thumb, Tasmin Mitchell a possible broken toe, and Glen Davis a strained quad that kept him out of a few games.


And the truth is, his real problem came after Hurricane Katrina when D.J. Augustin, who evacuated to Houston, simply stayed in Texas to be a Longhorn instead of a Tiger. That really hurt; and I assure you, had Augustin come to LSU and not Texas, Texas would be outside looking in and LSU would have been in the NCAA Tournament.


Bad coaching? Sure, Brady has to wish he handled Davis differently, especially early in the season. Sure, he has to wish he had another point guard.


But LSU beat three of the final 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament: Texas A&M, Tennessee and Florida. And a few of those close losses this season could easily have gone the other way.


Coaching? Sure, the guy at the top gets the blame, but if you ask Brady, he might tell you he coached better this year than last season when the Tigers went to the Final Four.


By the way, with Tubby Smith saying the hell with it and heading from Kentucky to Minnesota, Brady is now alone in second place for tenured coaches in the Southeastern Conference – just one year behind Billy Donovan, who is finishing his 11th at Florida.


That in itself is something else in a week when Smith and Steve Alford bail out on their big-time jobs for peace of mind and new challenges. The coaching dominoes will begin to fall like crazy, and next week at the Final Four, coaches will be working it like big dogs. Luckily for LSU, it doesn't have that problem.


But enough about that.


The women did themselves proud in the first two games of their tournament, while two major questions remain unanswered.


First, where is Pokey Chatman? Since leaving LSU, she's not been seen or heard from.


And second, is she OK? Regardless of her indiscretions, she's still in a sad situation, not even 40, and out of a job and looking at either going to the WNBA (if it will have her) or overseas. No telling what her emotional state is like, but the guess here is it's probably not good.


It's hard to see someone you've known for so long, who's done so much as a player and coach, who's always been a delight with the media and very accommodating, lose it all.


We can only hope that she's OK and getting help.




Baton Rouge sportswriter Lee Feinswog is the host of the weekly television show "Sports Monday." He's covered LSU athletics since 1984. His book "HoopDaddy" is available at www.HoopDaddy.net. Contact Lee at sportsmonday@aol.com or (225) 926-3256.

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