Dupree looking for Dance in final season

Ronald Dupree could have left LSU last season to test his stock with the NBA.<br><br>Instead, the senior All-Southeastern Conference forward chose to return to a more-bolstered Tiger squad with visions of The Dance in his eyes.<br><br>"We want to win a championship this year," Dupree said.

"We have a lot of talent. We have a lot of big men this year, something we've been needing for the last two seasons. The whole team has a good attitude about the upcoming season and we expect a lot out of ourselves."


The big men Dupree speaks of are 6-foot-9 junior college transfers Jamie Lloreda and Shawnson Johnson, whose presence in the paint will free Dupree from the power forward position he has been thrust into since the departures of LSU's last big-post duo, Stromile Swift and Jabari Smith, after the 1999-2000 season, Dupree's freshman year.


"The difference between this team and the Sweet 16 team my freshman year is that we're stronger in the perimeter than we are in the post," Dupree said. "We'll be good in the post (this year), but we have a better and deeper perimeter."


This season, LSU coach John Brady is finally free of NCAA-imposed sanctions and has a full allotment of 13 scholarship players that will allow him a greater variety of scheme options in which to run his offense.


With Lloreda and Johnson available, Brady has the option to play two post players and allow Dupree to stick to the perimeter as a shooting forward.


"I'd like to be in a two big-man setup and have low post play that would let them get the double team I've been getting so long, Dupree said. "So I'm looking forward to the stability of a two big-man offensive set.


"I definitely would like to mainly be in the three (position) on the wing," Dupree said, "and at times to go into the post if the game called for it. But primarily I'd like to stay in the perimeter."


Thanks to Dupree's experience, the Tigers can rely on some of the things they did when they were a team with less size and depth. A solid defender with a long reach, Dupree still has the leaping ability, talent and tenacity to play under the basket despite not measuring up to the 6-9 giants.


"When I told him I was going to work him in the post some," Brady said. "He said, ‘Coach, all I want to do is stay on the floor.' And if he can have that type of approach and offer that type of leadership and that unselfishness, then certainly that'll flow through our team and make our team better."


After a strong season last year, many Tiger fans breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that Dupree would return to LSU for his senior season. During the 2001-02 season the Biloxi, Miss., native ranked near the top of the conference in both scoring (seventh) and rebounding (second), leading the team with 16.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He is on line to graduate with a degree in engineering next summer.


"I appreciate Ronald and his mother making that decision (to return)," Brady said. "Personally, I don't think he was ready. I think he was a mid-second-round pick. That's what the NBA came back and told us. I think he was wise in coming back because he would be on a possibly better team and would maybe play more in the perimeter."


Not only does a full roster allow Brady the freedom to alter his system, it also provides for more competition among players during practice, bringing out the absolute best in them for fear of being benched.


Though official practices had yet to start, pick-up games among the players have been heated, extremely competitive and have already resulted in the injury of both Collis Temple III and Thomas Davis. Temple took a blow to the eye and Davis injured his ankle.


"It's been very competitive," Dupree said of the pick-up games, unofficial practices that players take part in between summer and fall practices. "If you lose, you're going to sit down. We're trying to get the new guys to a competitive level — some of them don't realize the level they're on now. This is the SEC.


"You can't sweat small fouls," he said of the self-officiating of the pick-up games, "and expect to get the call. But we look good."


"If you thought that our teams played hard and were competitive in the past," Brady said, "I believe that you can add a little bit more to that now, because our practices are going to be more competitive."


Despite the fierce competition for playing time that the players are now entwined, Dupree says that the team exhibits a familial atmosphere off the court.


"We have some new guys along with the veterans, and we're jelling pretty well," he says. "We really won't know until practice, but the pick-up games have been going very, very well. They've been very competitive, and the guys are really ready to make an impact."


Dupree Honors

Second-Team All-SEC – 2001, 2002

First-Team All-Louisiana – 2001, 2002

NABC District 8 Second Team – 2001

NABC District 8 First Team – 2002


Dupree Data

- MVP of the Double Pump Adidas AAU Tournament in 1999

- Only child

- Favorite food is pancakes

- Favorite NBA player is Allen Iverson

- Majoring in Engineering


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