The importance of winning in January

Over the past year, LSU head coach John Brady has made several comments concerning the LSU Tigers and the importance of winning games. <br><br> In the football dominated town of Baton Rouge, winning is just about the only way of holding the interest of most Tiger fans, who are counting down the days to the opening of spring practice. Winning is important – but especially in January.

Brady has been quoted before saying January is the most critical time for the LSU basketball team to win games due to the fact it is the only show in town. Football is over, baseball and the spring sports have not began so if a basketball team on the LSU campus is going to captivate an audience, January is the time.


A year ago, Brady has said his team chose the wrong time of the year to go on a six-game losing streak. After opening SEC play with a 2-2 record with a rousing home victories over Arkansas and Auburn, the Tigers hit the skids losing six straight contests. With every loss, more and more fans stopped coming out.


When LSU got hot toward the end of the season, the Tigers were playing inspired basketball and winning close games in front of a half-empty assembly center. It was not until Ball State did the fans return and show their support.


So far this season, the Tigers have done what it took to get butts in the seats early. While the football team was taking a late season tumble, losing four of their last six games, Brady's Tigers stole the show upsetting No. 1 Arizona. When LSU opened January playing well with an upset of 7th-ranked Mississippi State, the Tigers looked to be headed in the right direction.

When Ole Miss visited last Saturday, it was a game most people thought LSU should win. For the Tigers, it was really a must win. A win over the Rebels would be just what LSU needed before a brutal four game stretch that has the Tigers going to Arkansas and Mississippi State, returning home for the Florida gators before traveling to Alabama. Also, no team under John Brady had ever started an SEC slate with a 2-1 record.


After Saturday, still no team under John Brady has opened league play with a 2-1 start. Ole Miss used clutch shooting down the stretch and a suffocating defensive effort to setback LSU 67-57.


Not even a minor crisis in the football camp could distract the 9,000 fans who turned out to witness Brady's team lose. The shock of Nick Saban's talks with the Jacksonville Jaguars was not enough to mask LSU's lackluster performance on Saturday.


" I do not think our team ever really gave this team the respect it needed," Brady said. "They learned a lesson today because that team out-toughed us for 40 minutes and we do not get out-toughed a lot, but we were today."


Brady said he said his team was flat, much different than in the two previous upset victories at home.


"I don' think we came out and gave Ole Miss the same respect we gave Arizona and Mississippi State," Brady said. "We weren't ready to go mentally like we have been in other games previously this season."


In the SEC, an average team like Ole Miss showed the Tigers what happens when one team is not taking a league team seriously.


The problem is now, LSU needed to be 2-1 before going on this two-game road trip. Brady has said it time and again, most recently after the Mississippi State game about how hard it is to play and win on the road in the SEC.


"It is so tough to win on the road in this league," Brady said after his team's win over the Bulldogs. "It is so tough because teams are so good, coaching is so good. With crowds like this, you have got to be a mature, tough-minded team to go play on the road, execute and win."


Anyone who was witnessed Saturday's game will tell you the Tigers did not resemble the tough-minded, mature team their mentor spoke about. LSU drew the ire of their coach following the game for the their inability to effectively defend the Rebels.


"The thing that concerns me about our team and I say it and nobody listens is we cannot guard anybody in our league," Brady said Saturday. "We have not held a league team to under 50-percent shooting yet."

And defense was only half of it.


The Tigers shot a miserable 38-percent from the floor and hit just 1-of-13 shots from three-point range.


"The bottom line is we could not make an open shot," Brady said.


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