Monday, April 7, 2008

WBB Falls

Well, that was a sad ending to an exciting if not particularly well-played game.  

In case you missed it, LSU held a 1-point lead with 7.1 seconds to play with Tennessee taking out the ball underneath its own basket.  Out of a timeout, we put on a full-court man-to-man press, but Candace Parker beat the defender to the sideline and then outran her down the wing before hitting an open player under the basket.  Amazingly, this player missed the gimme (a lot of that happened in this game), but there was actually time to get an offensive rebound and a put-back to put Tennessee ahead with 0.7 seconds left.

It was a very poor defensive play in a game characterized by very little offense all around.  In 6.4 seconds, against a full-court press out of a timeout, the defense let Tennessee advance the ball with the dribble all the way down the court and get off not one but two point-blank shots.  It was somewhat reminiscent of Tyus Edny for UCLA, but Edny wasn't going up against a defense that was able to set itself up out of a timeout.  And Edny wasn't allowed to get off two shots.

Really it never should have even gotten to this point.  The team played very good defense overall throughout the game, and got good shots on offense, but simply did not hit them.  Sylvia Fowles had an impressive line with 24 points and 20 rebounds, but she was only 10 of 24 from the field and missed a lot of shots she'd normally hit with her eyes closed.  She could easily have had 35 points if she'd only hit her layups and foul shots.  

The team as a whole shot 35% from the field, and it wasn't because Tennessee played great defense.  They just missed the shots.  The team was 1 of 9 from 3-point range despite a lot of open looks from the better shooters on the team, and was 7 of 19 from the foul line.  We simply failed to take advantage of the fact that Tennessee's best player, Candace Parker, was rendered mostly ineffective due to injury.  Parker was 6 of 27 from the field.  Despite a few nice baskets, she really was not the dangerous player you expected her to be.  She had no jump shot whatsoever because of her bad shoulder, and was a liability on defense.

We outplayed them, but we lost because we left a lot of points on the table.  We earned points by getting good shots off of good ball movement and good skills, but couldn't get the ball in the basket.

Looking at it objectively, this particular window of opportunity for LSU to compete in the SEC and on the national stage has clearly passed.  The team loses its 5 starters and loses its 3 top scoring threats off of a team that was very top heavy in scoring anyway.  Only Alison Hightower returns as a significant scoring threat for next year's team.  

Coach Van Chancellor reportedly has a really strong recruiting class coming in.  That is certainly good news under the circumstances.  It looks like we will have to take a step back for a little while, as a young team gains experience, before emerging again as a real player on the national stage.

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