Coach: John Brady (eighth season)
Record in 2003-04: 18-11, 8-8 SEC
New Players (rankings from PrepStars)
Brandon Bass (right, AP photo by Phil Sandlin), who entered the NBA draft but withdrew, is likely to be an all-conference player. Davis played in the McDonald's all-star game and will replace Lloreda in the starting lineup. Mitchell (5-11) and Hudson (6-5) give the Tigers a pair of experienced starters on the wings. At the point will be the tortoise (Whipple, 6-2) and the hare (Minor, 5-11). Lazare (6-8), Neltner (6-9), and Koundjia (6-9) provide considerable depth in the forecourt. Thomas and Temple will help on the wings.
Last season, when Lloreda was injured and missed the final seven games, the Tigers struggled to score. Bass should lead the team in that category this year, and Davis will be another scoring threat under the basket. Koundjia was a highly-rated player coming out of high school, but failed to do much scoring. Mitchell and Hudson are outside scoring threats, and Minor's three-point percentage will rise if he exercises better shot selection.
Rebounding and Defense
In 2003-04 the Tigers defended very well, holding opponents to just 63 points per game. Bass was by far the best shot-blocker, and the team will be somewhat more experienced and probably just as effective at holding down the opposition. Davis (a 300-pounder) and Bass (240 lbs) provide a lot of beef under the boards, and Lazare, Koundjia, Neltner, and Thomas are all 6-8 or 6-9.
Perhaps the biggest problem that coach John Brady faces is to harness Minor's ability. Last year Tack had a tendency to play out-of-control, and needs to become more of a playmaker. Another area of concern is Davis's weight; he has scaled as high as 320 lbs and would be more effective at 270. Hudson needs to be more consistent. Lack of experience is still a concern because there are only three juniors and seniors.
Overall Prospects for 2004-05
LSU suffered a blow when JUCO Spencer Ford, a talented 6-7 signee, left Dixie State College and became ineligible. On the other hand, Brady must have been greatly relieved when Bass decided to return. The talent is there for a third-place finish in the SEC West, although Arkansas is a threat to push the Tigers down to fourth.