3/23/17 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It’s a new day for LSU basketball! That was the message delivered enthusiastically by new head coach Will Wade as he was officially introduced as LSU’s 22nd men’s basketball coach. The young, energetic coach said all the right things and impressed me as someone with a good head on his shoulders, a very strong work ethic, and a contagious enthusiasm for building a winning basketball culture at LSU. I’ve highlighted below some of Coach Wade’s key remarks and have posted the 29-minute video of his press conference here. I’ve also posted this nine-minute one-on-one interview of Coach Wade by Chris Blair which I encourage you to watch when you’ve got the time.
On LSU, the Sleeping Giant….
“Long ago, I identified LSU as somewhere that was just an absolute sleeping giant. LSU has everything it needs to be successful. If we could just get it all going in the right direction, we could make it work. We could make it work. That was kind of my thought process going in. When Eddie and Joe flew up to Richmond to see me, I left that meeting knowing that LSU basketball can be successful and will be successful. I’m not going out on a limb by saying this. I don’t think at any time in LSU’s history has everything been in such alignment as it is now. From the athletic director, the athletic department to the commitment to the resources, to our President Dr. Alexander, everybody is in alignment to get this program turned around.”
On building consistent, sustainable winner:
“We are going to do that with a culture based on acting the right way. That’s what we talk about. Acting, for us, means that we are going to be aggressive, we are going to be committed and we are going to be thankful every day. When you get out of the bed in the morning, we are going to attack the day. We are going to be an attacking basketball team on both ends of the court. We are going to attack the weight room. Everything that we do is going to be aggressive. Have you ever heard the saying ‘Good things come to those who wait?’ Not true. Only the scraps from he who hustles.” (For all you history buffs, Coach Wade rightfully credited Abraham Lincoln for that last line.)
On the opportunity to represent LSU:
“This is an honor for me to be the basketball coach here. I’m highly appreciative of this opportunity, highly thankful to be the basketball coach here. We are going to make sure our players – make sure everybody – feels the same way and understands that it is a privilege to be here. It’s not a right to be here.”
On his team’s playing style:
“On the court, we are going to absolutely empty our tanks every night. When we get done playing that thing is going to be on E. It’s going to be on empty because we are going to empty it out. We are going to be all-out all of the time with great discipline about what we do. Offensively, we are going to fly up and down the court. We are going to play fast…
“Defensively, we are going to be even more aggressive. We are going to guard every floorboard. We are going to guard every floorboard for 94 feet. We are going to disrupt other teams’ offenses with our aggression.”
“Absolutely no detail is too small. All lines will be touched in conditioning. All weights will be met each week when we have weigh-ins. All classes will be attended. All of the little things, that’s what adds up to winning…
“Hey, everybody wants to win the SEC. Everybody wants to go to the NCAA Tournament, but there is only a select few who do that. We have to have the separation by doing all of the details, doing all of those little things to make it happen. That’s what we are going to do.”
No one can say for certain whether all of the above will translate to success on the court at LSU, but I can say with confidence that if it does not, it will not be for lack of effort or enthusiasm. The next big step for Coach Wade, beyond getting the players to buy into his demanding coaching style, is to assemble a staff that shares his passion and hunger for success. Wade says he hopes to have that staff fully in place in a couple of weeks before the start of the live recruiting period in April.
Turning to baseball, LSU defeated Southeastern Louisiana 8-2 last night to improve to 17-5 on the season. As I tweeted after the game, there was a lot to like in the win. LSU’s defense played spectacular error-free ball, its five pitchers allowed only two runs on five hits, and its offense tallied eight runs on 10 hits including five for extra bases.
Zach Hess got the start on the mound and bounced back well after last Sunday’s rough relief outing. In four innings of work, Hess allowed only one run (a solo homer) on two hits while striking out four and walking two. Russell Reynolds, Matthew Beck, Todd Peterson and Nick Bush combined to throw five innings in relief and allowed only one run on three hits. The most impressive of the bunch was Matthew Beck who faced four batters, struck out two and didn’t give up a hit or a walk. Beck is quickly establishing himself as a very dependable reliever, which is great to see considering LSU’s bullpen is a little thin with Norman out for the season and Newman dealing with a back injury.
Offensively, it was the Josh Smith and Greg Deichmann show as the pair combined to go 6-for-7 at the plate, accounting for a total of seven RBI. Smith finished 4-for-4 on the night with two doubles and four RBI, while Deichmann went 2-for-3 with a three-run dinger, his eighth home run of the season.
Here is the complete boxscore and a very quick scoring summary: LSU took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Smith hit an RBI double to center to score Antoine Duplantis. Deichmann’s dinger came with runners at the corners in the bottom of the third to make it 4-0 Tigers. The Lions cut the lead to 4-1 in the fourth on a solo shot over the left-field bleachers before the Tigers broke things open with four runs in the fifth. The first of the four runs came on Zach Watson’s sacrifice fly, and the other three came on a bases-clearing 3-RBI bloop single to centerfield by Smith. The Lions tacked on the final run of the night in the top of the ninth with a solo home run off of Nick Bush.
Next up for LSU is a huge SEC road series at Florida beginning tomorrow night at 6 p.m. Look for more on that big series in tomorrow’s report.
I’ll leave you today with these two football-related tidbits:
• The one thing I heard from more of you about yesterday than anything else was Derrius Guice’s ankle injury. Many of you wrote that you hope Guice is given the whole spring off if there’s any suspicion that his ankle is not 100%. Seeing how things worked out with Fournette last season after his ankle injury was categorized as minor in the fall, I suspect no one would fault the staff or Guice if they are overly cautious, especially with this just being the spring. The team returns to the practice field today and will hold a closed scrimmage in Tiger Stadium again this Saturday.
• According to SECCountry, several big-time prospects will be visiting LSU this weekend. These include 5-stars Teradja Mitchell (LB, 6-2, 232) of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Patrick Surtain (CB, 6-2, 180) of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Two of Surtain’s teammates at American Heritage High School – cornerback Tyson Campbell (6-2, 180) and weak side defensive end Andrew Hatfield (6-2, 221) – will also be visiting.