1/18/19 5:40 am CST
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The votes are in: Tigers fans are feeling double-digit regular season conference wins for this LSU basketball squad. In our poll conducted yesterday, approximately 68 percent of the 2,600+ of you who voted said the Tigers would win anywhere from 12 to 14 SEC games, which is remarkable when you recall LSU’s eight league wins a season ago. The leading vote-getter was 14 by the slimmest of margins. Only a few decimal points separated 14 from 12. Nearly 20 percent of you voted for 13 wins, while approximately 12 percent voted for 15. Thanks to all who participated.
Needless to say, Tiger fans are high on this basketball team right now. A big reason for that is its overall athletic ability. Few teams can rotate three pure point guards at the position as LSU can with Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays and Ja’vonte Smart all becoming integral pieces in that backcourt. And as CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein pointed out on Twitter, LSU’s new “Four Horsemen” (Naz Reid, Darius Days, Emmitt Williams and Kavell Bigby-Williams) could go up against any baseline quartet in America. And we haven’t even mentioned Marlon Taylor, who has the best “hops” we’ve seen in decades in an LSU uniform. LSU’s length and athleticism took over the second half in the Tigers’ biggest win to date: an 83-69 victory against No. 18 Ole Miss Tuesday. If LSU continues to come together, this team could take over the conference in a similar fashion. LSU returns to action tomorrow at 5 p.m. to host South Carolina. Look for more on that contest in tomorrow’s report.
Turning to football, usually at this time of year the hot topic of discussion is the coaching carousel, but that’s been a quiet topic this time around even though LSU has an open position. As of now, there’s been no word on who might fill the spot vacated by Passing Game Coordinator Jerry Sullivan’s retirement. It doesn’t appear that LSU is feeling any pressure to fill the position quickly before Signing Day, and that’s understandable. LSU has pretty much met its needs at quarterback and receiver in this class, with the exception of Amite S/WR Davonta Lee who LSU feels good about. Plus Mickey Joseph is technically the wide receiver coach and Sullivan’s role wasn’t tied to any specific position.
The only staffing news to pass along at this time is that there are reports of LSU Assistant Director of Player Personnel, Jeremy Hawkins, leaving the staff. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic is reporting that he is leaving Baton Rouge to be the defensive line coach at Mercer. What an Assistant Director of Player Personnel does is not big news, but what could be big news is any change of status to his superior, Director of Player Personnel Kevin Faulk. I mention this only because I would love to see Faulk, a legendary former Tiger running back and three-time Super Bowl Champion, promoted to an on-the-field coaching role where he could mentor the two big-time backs coming in. I’ve heard nothing to suggest that this move is in the works, so don’t get your hopes up.
In football recruiting news, I mentioned yesterday that LSU was hoping to get DE Byron Young, an Alabama commit, in for an official visit before signing day, and it looks like things are falling into place. The latest word is that Young is set to visit LSU on the weekend of January 26, which is ideal since it’s the last weekend before signing day. Another thing in LSU’s favor as it tries to lure this standout 4-star defensive lineman from The Crimson Tide is that Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi is reportedly leaving to join the Cleveland Browns coaching staff. Lupoi would be the fifth assistant (not counting two consultants) to leave Tuscaloosa since Alabama’s loss to Clemson in the national championship.
And before leaving recruiting, how’s this for making the most of one trip: According to 247Sports, Coach Ed Orgeron extended nine offers to 2020 and 2021 prospects at one Baltimore school yesterday. The players offered at Baltimore St. Frances include the top weak-side defensive end in the 2020 class, Alabama commit Chris Braswell.
In women’s basketball news, LSU fell to 11-6 (2-3 SEC) on the season with a 64-60 loss to No. 16 Kentucky last night. The Lady Tigers started slow and fell behind by 16 points in the first quarter, but rallied back to tie the game at 52-52 in the 4th quarter on a jumper from Shanice Norton with 7:45 remaining. Unfortunately, they could not complete the upset. Here’s a full recap by LSUSports.net.
The LSU gymnastics team, No. 5 in the most recent rankings, will look to shake off last week’s loss to Auburn when they return to action tonight, but it won’t be easy. That’s because they’re set to host No. 3 Florida in what should be a great battle in a packed PMAC. Intros begin at 7:40 p.m. CT and first vault is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. If you can’t make it out there, you can catch the action on the SEC Network.
A few tidbits in closing:
• ESPN released its early All-American list for 2019 and LSU’s Grant Delpit made the cut. Here’s what they had to say about him: “Arguably the most versatile defensive back in the nation, Delpit was a finalist for the Nagurski Award in 2018 for his work on a stout LSU defense. Delpit finished third among the Tigers in tackles (74), led all SEC defensive backs with 9.5 tackles for loss, and was one of just 15 players nationally to pick off at least five passes.”
• Yesterday I posted video highlights of a couple of players – Delpit and Nick Brossette – and today there’s more. This time, it’s linebacker Michael Divinity in the spotlight. These senior season highlights show why getting Divinity back for his senior season is among the most underrated news of the offseason.
• LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette tweeted the following stats as more proof as to why playing for LSU prepares players for NFL: Of the 32 players in Mel Kiper's 1st Round Mock Draft, LSU faced 11 of them this year. Plus, Devin White and Greedy Williams are both projected as Top 10 picks.
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