NCAA Baseball Championships:
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2/15/17 5:40 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
On Valentine’s Day, Cupid was cruel to the LSU men’s basketball team. With a 96-76 loss at Ole Miss, the Tigers extended their losing streak to 12 games. LSU followed its collapse against Arkansas last Saturday with a similar meltdown last night, though the meltdown came much later in the contest. After leading by double-digits in the second half, LSU folded under pressure and allowed Ole Miss to score the last 17 points of the game.
Here’s a recap of yet another frustrating Tiger loss:
Picking up where they left off against Arkansas, the Tigers attacked the paint early and often with Antonio Blakeney and Skylar Mays pulling off some nice finishes at the rim. Blakeney carried the Tigers in the first half, scoring 13 points (nine of which came from 3-pointers) in the first seven minutes of action. The Tigers and Rebels swapped leads 10 times in an extremely competitive first half. LSU went on an 8-0 run at one point, but Ole Miss made runs of its own with 52 percent shooting from the field. Ole Miss got the upper hand when LSU missed five of six shots, most of which came from behind the arc. LSU countered Ole Miss’ zone with long-range shooting, and it provided mixed results. Though LSU made 55 percent of its shots in the half, the Tigers hit just five of its attempted 13 3-point shots in the half. Thankfully for the Tigers, Ole Miss wasn’t much better with 6-of-14 shooting from behind the arc. An 8-1 run toward the end of the half gave LSU a 47-44 advantage going into halftime. Aiding LSU in that run was a questionable offsetting foul call involving Blakeney and an Ole Miss player. The call gave LSU two technical free throws and possession, which ended in a 3-point play. A scorching hot Blakeney led the way with 22 points in the half.
LSU opened the second half with an 8-0 run that expanded its lead to 11. It took Ole Miss nearly four minutes to score its first points of the second half. While both teams shot at a high percentage in the first half, LSU and Ole Miss struggled from the field in the second. Both teams made only 25 percent of their shots in the opening eight minutes of the half before shots began to fall for the Rebels. Ole Miss went on a 16-5 run to take its first lead of the half with six minutes remaining. Ole Miss never looked back, expanding its lead to 20 down the stretch.
At this point, it’s hard to get much enjoyment out of watching this team, even when Blakeney drops 29 on an opponent. And Blakeney, by the way, didn’t take a shot in the last seven minutes of the game. That’ll leave you speechless, shaking your head, folks.
LSU will hit the road again Saturday for another contest with Alabama. The Tigers will look for their second conference win of the season in a 2:30 p.m. tip on the SEC Network.
In football news, LSU is adding another member to its support staff as Greg McMahon is set to join the Tigers as a Special Teams Consultant. McMahon was Special Teams Coordinator for the Saints the past 11 seasons before he and several other assistants were fired after last season. At LSU, McMahon’s role will be similar to the one held by longtime NFL special teams coach Bobby April, who Coach Orgeron brought in to consult with Special Teams prior to LSU’s Citrus Bowl Game. This position is not to be confused with the position of Special Teams Coach, as consultants are not allowed to coach on the field. As of now, LSU is not able to hire a full-time Special Teams Coach since the staff is maxed out with nine assistant coaches already, but if the NCAA approves a 10th assistant coach, as it is expected to do this April, McMahon would certainly be a great candidate for the position. Counting McMahon, the Tigers have recently added three support staff members. Last week it was learned that Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada brought two offensive analysts with him from Pittsburgh: Dave Bucar and Matt Tomsho.
With LSU’s highly anticipated baseball season set to start in just two days, I’ve got a few tidbits to share with you including the continuation of our mini-countdown to game day. In fact, today’s countdown feature will be the last of its kind as there is no No. 1 on this year’s team. No. 2 however, is a player who is expected to have a big season this year – starting catcher Michael Papierski.
As a sophomore last year, Papierski emerged as the Tigers’ starter behind the plate, where he proved to be an outstanding defensive catcher with a rocket for an arm. On offense, however, Papierski didn’t have a spectacular year as he finished the season with a .242 average. What’s interesting to note is that Papierski batted most of his first two seasons as a switch hitter then switched to hitting right-handed only for the final 13 games of the season. During that period, his hitting improved so much that he, Coach Mainieri, and former hitting coach Andy Cannizaro decided Papierski would bat only right-handed this season. If this change works out as expected and Papierski can build on his outstanding postseason run last season when he hit .364 in LSU’s six NCAA regional and super regional contests, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound junior could be just as big an asset at the plate as he is behind it.
In other baseball news, D1Baseball released its Power Rankings for collegiate starting pitchers yesterday and LSU’s Alex Lange came in at No. 6 in the nation and No. 4 in the SEC. The three league pitchers ranked higher than Lange were Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright, Florida’s Alex Faedo, and Missouri’s Tanner Houck at numbers 1, 2, and 3, respectively. LSU’s Jared Poché checked in at No. 55. Here’s D1Baseball’s complete rankings of starting pitchers.
If you’re like me, you don’t need any help getting pumped about opening weekend being just around the corner, but you might find that this video only adds to the excitement. In it, Coach Mainieri talks about the weekend and what it means to him to be able to honor the military men and women who serve our country through this three game series. LSU opens the season against Air Force, then plays Army on Saturday and Air Force again on Sunday. I think this is a great way to celebrate our military men and women and show our appreciation for all they do.
One brief football tidbit in closing: Last week it was reported that LSU’s spring game would be a televised night contest, and yesterday LSU confirmed the news in the following press release.
LSU SPRING GAME TO KICKOFF AT 7 P.M. ON APRIL 22
BATON ROUGE – For the first time since the mid-1990s, LSU’s annual spring football game will be played at night, head coach Ed Orgeron announced.
Details for events and activities that day on campus leading up to the spring game are still being planned, however kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Tiger Stadium. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
LSU opens its first spring practice under Orgeron on Saturday, March 11. The Tigers practice a total of 15 times during the spring, culminating with the National L Club Spring Game on Saturday, April 22.
The last time LSU played a spring game at night came in 1995 when the Tigers had a 6 p.m. kickoff under first-year coach Gerry DiNardo.
More details about this year’s spring game will be released as they become available.
Lastly, thanks to all of you who read and commented on the Q&A with Mike Detillier on LSU football that I posted Monday and yesterday. If you missed, either of the two installments, you can check them out using these links: Part I | Part II
Reader Comments: Scott, here’s a good read by Fox Sports to share with your readers: 72 hours inside Ed Orgeron’s LSU war room on the race to Signing Day
2/14/17 5:55 am CST
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
It’s been a while since we’ve used our “Tuesday Tidbits” format to deliver your daily dose of Tiger News and now seems like the perfect time to return to it since there’s so many diverse topics to touch on. Let’s get right to it.
Tuesday’s Tidbits: Your Daily Dose of Tiger News Delivered in a Baker’s Dozen Quick Hitters
1. It was great hearing from many of you yesterday about Part 1 of my Q&A with Mike Detillier. As promised, you’ll find Mike thoughts on LSU’s offensive signees and much more in today’s second and final installment: DandyDon.com Q&A with Mike Detillier on LSU Offensive Signees and More.
2. One topic you’ll see briefly mentioned in the Q&A that might catch you by surprise if you don’t follow DandyDonLSU on Twitter is the the news of quarterback Brandon Harris transferring from LSU. Here’s his tweet announcing the decision. Harris is set to graduate in May or over the summer and will be eligible to play next season with a major conference program. I am not shocked that he is transferring, but I find the timing odd. I was expecting Harris to participate in Spring ball and see the direction of new OC Matt Canada before making a decision. Nevertheless, I wish him well, as I know all Tiger fans do.
3. Speaking of Canada, he has described the quarterback position as being "wide open" this spring, but without Harris in the mix, the battle has narrowed considerably. LSU is now down to just one quarterback with any collegiate experience, making Etling the clear favorite to enter the season as the starter. Others competing this spring include redshirt sophomore Justin McMillan, redshirt freshman Lindsey Scott and true freshman early enrollee Lowell Narcisse. True freshman Myles Brennan will join the team in the Summer.
4. As pointed out in this tweet by SaturdayDownSouth’s Michael Bratton, with Brandon Harris announcing his departure, LSU has had only one QB who has stayed all four years since 2008 (Jordan Jefferson). And as pointed out in this article by The Advocate, Les Miles signed 18 quarterbacks over 12 signing class but only three of them completed their careers at LSU. Each of the other 12 were either dismissed, transferred or switched positions. Here’s hoping, and expecting, LSU’s quarterback situation to change under the direction of Orgeron and Canada.
5. Yesterday ESPN released its 2017 Preseason Football Power Index (FPI). As stated on their site, the rankings take into consideration the last four seasons of each team’s performance on offense, defense and special teams, with the most recent season counting most, as well as information on offensive and defensive returning starters, with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience. LSU came in at No. 6 in their rankings.
6. Recently, ESPN also released it’s Post-Signing Day SEC Position Rankings. LSU’s front seven – which will feature veteran players such as Arden Key, Christian LaCouture, Greg Gilmore, Rashard Lawrence, Ed Alexander, and Devin White, along with youngsters like Sci Martin, Michael Divinity, Ray Thornton, Tyler Shelvin and K'Lavon Chaisson – came in at No. 2 in their rankings behind Alabama.
7. Congratulations to former LSU linebacker Deion Jones (Atlanta Falcons) for being named to NFL.com’s All-Rookie Team. Jones tallied 108 tackles in the regular season and had three interceptions, including one that Saints fans will recall was returned 90 yards for a touchdown in the Superdome. Jones also logged five tackles and an interception in the Falcons' playoff victory against Seattle.
8. Speaking of Tigers and the NFL, ten former LSU players were invited to this year’s NFL combine, which begins later this month in Indianapolis. LSU and Alabama lead not only the SEC but the entire nation with ten invites each. The ten Tigers invited include safety Jamal Adams, linebacker Kendell Beckwith, defensive end Tashawn Bower, wide receiver Malachi Dupré, wide receiver Travin Dural, running back Leonard Fournette, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, center Ethan Pocic, linebacker Duke Riley, and cornerback Tre’Davious White.
9. Turning to basketball, LSU’s Lady Tigers fell to Vanderbilt last night, 70-68. The Lady Commodores hit their eighth 3-pointer of the game with 28 seconds remaining on the clock to earn the win. With the loss, LSU fell to 17-8 overall; 6-6 in the SEC, while Vanderbilt improved to 12-13 on the year; 2-10 in league play.
10. Sticking to women’s sports, the LSU gymnastics team remains at No. 2 in this week’s rankings after defeating No. 23 Arkansas on Friday with a team score of 197.700. The only team with a higher average is the Oklahoma Sooners (197.813) and the Tigers will soon square of with them, along with the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 15 Missouri Tigers as part of a four-team match in St. Louis this Friday.
11. The LSU men’s basketball team (9-15, 1-11) will be looking to avoid its 12th-straight loss tonight when it travels to Oxford, Miss. to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (15-10, 5-6). The game is set to tipoff at 8 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network. I have Valentine’s Day plans and won’t be watching, but thanks to my man Jake Martin and the folks at LSU’s Sports Information Department, we’ll have a full report for you in tomorrow’s update.
12. With only 3 days remaining until the start of baseball season, here’s a quick shoutout to No. 3 on the team – All-SEC shortstop Kramer Robertson. Who can forget his clutch (and bizarre) 10th inning RBI in the Rally Possum game, which was all the more exceptional considering it came shortly after he sustained one of the nastiest busted lips I’ve ever seen. That game showed his unsurpassed toughness and grit, and was just one of many that earned him the nickname of “Mr. Clutch.”
13. Consider this the lagniappe tidbit in our Baker’s Dozen: If you’ve got plans to cook a romantic Valentine’s dinner for someone special tonight, might I remind you of my simple no-recipe technique for killer steak? My wife suggested I include this recipe today after tasting the steaks I cooked up for her and my three girls last night.
This web site is not officially affiliated with Louisiana State University. Opinions expressed herein are the property of Donald Long, Scott Long and friends, not Louisiana State University.