View From The Stands: LSU Hoops

Brent Lancaster is a regular guy. He is not a journalist, analyst or opinion maker. He isn't on the Tiger Rag payroll nor has he ever been a sports writer. He actually thinks sports writers are overpaid, overweight and way too cynical for their own good.

But one thing Brent Lancaster does know - is basketball.

No, he never played college basketball, never coached college basketball nor will he himself ever claim to know it all about hoops. But I'm here to tell you, this guy knows basketball.

Brent Lancaster was a three-year letterman and two-year starter at powerhouse Woodlawn (Baton Rouge) High School under legendary prep coach Kenny Almond. During his high school years, Brent Lancaster dueled it out with Lester Earl and Stromile Swift when Louisiana high school hoops was at a high point during the mid 1990s. He regularly attends LSU games and has done so his entire life, through the good days and bad times.

While many Tiger fans are clamoring over LSU's No. 1 ranking in football, the Tigers chance at winning a national championship and what is in the cards for coach Les Miles, Brent Lancaster has attended both of LSU's basketball games this week against Southeastern and McNeese and he comes away with the following impressions on John Brady's team.

Brent Lancaster says:

"I think I am the only person with at Louisiana license plate that would rather talk about LSU Basketball right now then what Les Miles' next move might be.

"After two games here are my thoughts:

The Newcomers

Marcus Thornton reminds me of Allen Iverson. For two games now, with 10 minutes left to go in the game, I look up at the scoreboard and Thornton has 18-20 points. It is like I wonder how he got that many and where it came from. He's a scorer. The major missing piece to last years puzzle had little to do with Tyrus Thomas and everything to do with Darrel Mitchell. LSU was missing that true scorer who was a threat to put up 30 on anyone at anytime. The scorer is back and he's four inches taller than Mitchell. Good for guarding the taller guards in the SEC.

Anthony Randolph is still trying to adjust to D-I basketball, but he is fun to watch and has SEC Frosh of the Year written all over him. Last night he was the wing on a fast break, got the pass and you could almost read his mind, "Sure I could probably easily lay this up, but screw it I want to see if I can dunk on a seven footer." So he leapt in the air got fouled and missed the dunk. Moderately exciting, but you can totally see that actually happening later in the season when he has that "no one can stop me" attitude.

Finally LSU has a true point guard in Bo Spencer. He's built like Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz and plays with a ton of confidence. He does not look unsure out there. Very encouraging.

The Veterans

Two games into this season and I can already begin to visualize NEXT season. Dameon Mason is the only senior on the team and LSU signed four guys including two 6-10 guys, one of which is ranked top 25 players in the country (J'Mison Morgan, 6-10, 265, South Oak Cliff HS, Dallas). With the addition of Thornton as a scorer, the pressure will be taken off Terry Martin, Mason and Garrett Temple to score from the outside. You'll see Martin become a better scorer this year because he won't feel like he has to be only outside threat.

Temple will continue to be the steady player he has always been and Chris Johnson looks to have gained some skills inside. Unfortunately he hasn't gained as much weight as everyone had hoped. He's always had an outside game but he showed some moves and some toughness inside that was encouraging. He had to guard a 6-11 285-pound guy last night.

Tasmin Mitchell is going to be a 15-year NBA pro. He does everything right: takes good shots, makes his free throws, doesn't turn the ball over much and plays good D. He can play wing, small forward, and power forward. My only knock on him was that he was too stone-faced. Mitchell never got overly emotional formost of the game. Then, when got T-d up for almost getting into a fight, he looked like a man possessed on the next three possessions scoring, getting fouled, rebounding the ball and causing a turnover.

The Team

Key word: POTENTIAL. Holy smokes does this team have potential. They are going to struggle early in the season and maybe get blown out or lose a game they shouldn't. But once the pieces fall into place this team has the POTENTIAL to surprise some folks in the SEC.

They are going to frustrate you and keep games closer than you want. They are very hot and cold — both nights they started on runs where they'd go up by eight or 10, then go cold for 6-8 minutes and let the other team back in it. Once they get in a groove playing together and Brady gets his substitution rotation down, this team will be able to settle down and play well together.

Last year during timeouts you'd see Big Baby sitting on the edge of the scorers table looking at the jumbotron or the Tiger Girls. This team actually listens during timeouts. You can tell they enjoy playing together and this trip to Maui is going to be good for the team chemistry. There's something about trips like this that can bring a team together. The Canada trip was an excellent move early on to build team unity and cohesiveness.

The two major concerns are the aforementioned lengthy scoring droughts and rebounding. In SEC play they are going to face a seven-footer every night. They aren't gong to win the rebound battle but they must compete and especially keep the opposition off the offensive boards.


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