FEINSWOG: Brady, Tigers Need A Miracle

For a few minutes there, it seemed just like old times.

LSU turning it on defensively, scrambling around the court, forcing turnovers, scoring in transition, hitting a couple of three's, the crowd going nuts, the opponent calling timeout to stem the tide.

But it was all too brief, sort of like the sun shining through to tease you on a day when it rains the rest of the time.

So it goes for the LSU basketball team, which fell to 7-12 overall, 0-5 in the Southeastern Conference, when it lost to Arkansas on Saturday night, 68-52.

The Tigers trailed by 17 – yup, 17 – at halftime, but came out of the break with spunk and desire and sparked by, of all people, Alex Farrer, whittled the lead to 42-34 with 16:12 left.

LSU then missed four shots that could have cut it to six. After Arkansas got up by nine, the Tigers missed two more shots. Included in there was freshman Anthony Randolph going to the goal, set for a two-handed jam, and getting stuff blocked for a jump ball.

From then on, there were so many missed shots.

The aforementioned Farrer hit five of his 10 shots from the field and finished with a career-high 11 points. His teammates combined to make 15 of 58 shots, 25.9 percent. That includes LSU making 5 of 26 3-pointers (Farrer was 1-for-4).

To break it down further, leading scorer Marcus Thornton (20 points), hit 7 of 20 shots. If you take away him and Farrar, the other Tigers went 8 of 38, which is 21 percent.

You don't win in the SEC with those kinds of numbers.

LSU is a terrible shooting basketball team. Everything else aside – injuries, a coach on the hot seat, small crowds – the Tigers are bricklayers.

We've said it before, that Randolph, the talented freshman, is going to be a great player. But right now he's so soft inside at key times and despite nice final numbers (14 points, eight rebounds) on Saturday he was 5 of 16 from the field, and had five turnovers.

Terry Martin, the junior guard who showed that he could get hot from the outside occasionally, has become a lost soul on the court and can't put the ball in the ocean from the edge of the pier.

The biggest remaining player is Quintin Thornton, who, in 36 minutes, scored two points. That's hard to do.

Last week, 11th-year LSU coach John Brady held a news conference that was a well-planned pre-emptive measure against a disgruntled fan base. Basically he appealed to the LSU fans to still support the team despite their displeasure with losing and him.

It was a great move. During that one early second-half stretch when the Tigers had their run, those same fans were on LSU's side in a big way.

Understand this about Brady: He knows the deal. His basketball IQ is very high, from the X's and O's to the culture of the game.

There are few people anywhere who know more about college basketball than John Brady. He follows the game, studies it, keeps up with it, and knows all about the 40 or so head-coaching changes that are made annually in Division I.

Look around the SEC. Billy Donovan got to Florida the year before Brady. Rick Stansbury took over at Mississippi State and Mark Gottfried at Alabama the year after.

The other eight schools have all had turnover, some twice during that time.

That's one reality.

The other is the chance that LSU won't win again. The Tigers have 11 SEC games remaining plus the SEC Tournament. The prevailing thought is that they'll win one or two along the way because every team eventually does. But it won't be easy. The best shot might be this Wednesday at Auburn. There won't be a game in which LSU is favored.

Stranger things have happened in sports, of course, but for the Tigers to make a major turnaround reminds me of the movie "The Princess Bride," when Miracle Max has just tried to bring the hero back to life with a magic pill.

His wife asks him if he thinks it will work.

He responded simply, "It would take a miracle."

Yes it would. Hitting a few big shots would 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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