While the LSU men’s basketball team has tanked at the end of the season, the Lady Tigers led by Nikki Caldwell find themselves in the SEC Tournament Championship Game.
Two teams heading in vastly different directions were on display Saturday as LSU’s men’s team lost their 3rd in a row to a turrrible (to quote Charles Barkley) Auburn team. After looking like a team that had a chance to play in the NCAA or NIT tournament, the Tigers will spend their 3rd straight year at home during the postseason. Trent Johnson’s team took a few baby step forward this year, but improving on back to back horrible season was not too difficult a task.
Seeing Caldwell come in and quickly turn around the Lady Tigers doesn’t help Johnson’s case for more time. Caldwell took over a down LSU Lady Tiger squad who lost senior point guard Destini Hughes to a knee injury during the season and strung together a 22 win season. After an upset of top seeded Kentucky in the SEC tournament, the Lady Tigers are guaranteed a spot in postseason and are now playing to improve their seed. With a win today against the Tennessee Vols, Caldwell will have won the SEC tournament in her first year.
The future looks bright again for the Lady Tigers with Nikki Caldwell at the helm. I am not so convinced on the men’s side. You must be able to recruit, and I am still not sold on Trent Johnson’s ability to consistently recruit top talent.
Another troubling aspect of the men’s team is the lack of depth and players who don’t seem to be improving. Ralston Turner and Andre Stringer put in solid freshman years, but struggled as sophomores.
Joe Alleva has shown if you sign an exciting coach like Nikki Caldwell who can recruit, you can see results in a hurry.
Trent Johnson has shown very little without John Brady’s players on his team. Johnson won the SEC and had a great run in the tournament with a senior laden team full of Brady’s recruits, but hasn’t even come close the past 3 years with his recruits.
Basketball is not like football in that a top recruiting class can turn around a program quickly. Look at Kentucky as a prime example where John Calipari reloads each year with top recruits.
Remember the days when LSU use to challenge Kentucky’s supremacy in the SEC?
I sure do and those memories are all I have right now.