Raring to go

Exactly one month from the season-opening State Farm Tip-Off Classic, the LSU women's basketball team officially opens practice with a scheduled two-hour workout on Friday at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Head coach Van Chancellor, who guided the Lady Tigers to their fifth straight NCAA Final Four in 2008, begins his second season at LSU and 21st season at the collegiate level.

“I am as excited as I have ever been in all my years of coaching,” Chancellor said. “We have a lot of young players who have great attitudes and work ethics, and I am looking forward to working with them on a daily basis. The longer I am around this team, the better I feel about them. I think the fans will really enjoy watching this team play. They have a lot of energy and passion for the game.”

Chancellor welcomes eight newcomers to the team, including seven true freshmen who will go through their first official practice on Friday. LSU’s other new player is junior college transfer Andrea Kelly. Kelly played for two seasons at Okaloosa-Walton Community College in Niceville, Fla.

“Now that the season is only a month away, it is an exciting feeling to finally start practice,” Kelly said. “The coaching staff has helped me understand what I need to do on and off the court since I got here.”

Kelly and the rest of the Lady Tigers have gone through an offseason strength and conditioning program headed by third-year strength and conditioning coach Melissa Moore. In two months, LSU has worked on strength training, flexibility training, speed training and vertical jumping.

“I feel that the conditioning I have done here has really helped me as a player,” Kelly said. “I definitely feel that I have come a long way in two months and there is still more I can do to get ready for the season.”

Friday’s practice will focus on establishing defense through 5-on-4 drills and on-ball and off-ball positioning. The Lady Tigers will practice twice on Saturday and once on Sunday before starting a normal practice schedule on Monday.

LSU opens the season in the State Farm Tip-Off Classic on Sunday, Nov. 16, at the Maravich Center. The Lady Tigers take on Notre Dame in the first contest at 1:30 p.m. Texas A&M faces Pittsburgh in the second contest at 4 p.m. Both games will be televised live on ESPN2.

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