FEINSWOG: John Brady - 10 Eventful Years

Ten years. Wow. John Brady starts his 11th season as LSU's basketball coach with quite a decade to show for it. There were plenty of ups and plenty of downs, but it appears he's ready for another upswing.

There were plenty of ups and plenty of downs, but it appears he's ready for another upswing.

Four times in those 10 years, Brady's Tigers have finished dead last in the Southeastern Conference's Western Division, including last season when LSU went 17-15 overall, 5-11 in the league. It was made worse because just the year before, LSU went to the Final Four.

And there you can see the roller-coaster ride that has punctuated Brady's tenure. Three times LSU has finished first in the SEC West and twice the Tigers have been second. That's a lot of feast or famine.

This coming season appears to be feast time, if LSU's preseason trip to Canada is any indication.

To begin with, LSU had all the makings of a pretty good team with what it had returning. The prevailing logic was that Glen Davis, who left a year early for the NBA, had become a divisive force and that it was time for Brady and Big Baby to divorce.

Most of the other elements were in place, from defensive genius Garrett Temple, to potential superstar Tasmin Mitchell, to the athletic Dameon Mason, to scorer Terry Martin.

But a couple of newcomers might be the difference from being pretty good to being highly ranked.

Start with junior-college transfer Marcus Thornton, a 6-4 guard from Baton Rouge who can light it up. By all accounts he was big-time for the three-game Canada trip.

Anthony Randolph is a 6-10 freshman from Dallas who was among the nation's most sought-after players. He, too, was big-time in Canada. LSU also got great minutes on that trip from a guy who has potential star written all over him, 6-11 junior Chris Johnson, who showed last season he was on the verge of being a force. Not too many players that tall can run the floor as he does, step out and shoot and 3, and, occasionally, take his skinny frame inside.

After they got back from Toronto, Brady was thrilled.

"This has been a great trip for us," he said. "We had a great week of practice. These three games have told us a lot about our team. We've been identify some strengths and weaknesses. It is going to put us ahead of where we normally are there is no doubt about it."

One of Brady's best qualities is his sense of humor and ability to be teased. When told the reason Thornton and Randolph did so well was because he hadn't had three months to mess with them, he laughed hard. But, seriously, he knows that players who have been with almost always get better and if these two guys do, that will be something else.

This team has all the elements in place to challenge for the league title.

A lineup of Temple, Mitchell, Mason, Randolph and Thornton looks pretty solid. Martin will push for a starting spot. So will Johnson. The X factors will be a handful of guys hoping to get in the backcourt mix. LSU will need the depth. Maybe it will be Baton Rouge freshman Bo Spencer. Regardless, someone has to step up.

LSU already is in the mix for some tremendous recruits for next season. If the Tigers have a good 2007-08, maybe the roller coaster will head up for a few seasons.


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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