SEC Transition Basketball: LSU Tigers

Posted by Brian Joyce on September 8th, 2012

Wrapping up the SEC transition basketball series with today’s update: LSU.

State of the Program

Other than a home win over Marquette in December, last season was not much to brag about for the LSU Tigers. A 10-3 start to the season had Tigers fans optimistic heading into conference play, but that feeling quickly dissipated after LSU lost six of eight games through one stretch. An 18-15 season was not enough to spark excitement for a fan base looking for any reason to hold onto hope. Coach Trent Johnson announced his departure from Baton Rouge in March. And lo and behold, a spark ignited.

Johnny Jones takes over in Baton Rouge. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Enter North Texas coach and former LSU Tiger, Johnny Jones. Jones, who was part of two LSU Final Four teams as a player and an assistant coach, was chosen to lead the Tigers out of its path of recent mediocrity. UNT won two Sun Belt championships under Jones, and LSU is hoping for similar success in the SEC. The Tigers haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since the 2009 season when they won the SEC with a 13-3 conference record. For Jones to keep the flame lit, an NCAA Tournament berth has to come sooner rather than later.

Recruiting Reset

New head man Johnny Jones hit the recruiting path as soon as he arrived in Baton Rouge. After 6’8″ forward Calvin Godfrey failed to qualify academically, Jones was left with five incoming players despite only having a few months to accumulate the talent.

  • 6’3″ point guard Corban Collins averaged 25 points and seven assists for the Massanutten Military Academy last season.
  • 6’3″ shooting guard and Louisiana native Malik Morgan might be the best shooter the Tigers have coming in.
  • 6’5″ guard Shane Hammink followed his father, Geert, who played for LSU from 1988-93.

Then late in the recruiting season, Jones grabbed Memphis transfer Charles Carmouche, who averaged 7.4 points per game in his junior season with the Tigers. Carmouche will be eligible to play this season for LSU after being granted a medical redshirt last season.

With only three frontcourt players returning, LSU has a roster heavy on guards. While he’s not huge in size, 6’6″ junior college forward Shavon Coleman brings some much needed experience. “Shavon Coleman will be a great addition to our basketball team,” Jones said.  “He has a knack for scoring. He is a great defender and he can create other opportunities for the players on the floor with him. We look forward to his competitiveness moving this team forward in the future.”

Big man Johnny O’Bryant has the potential to be a force down low. (AP)

Breakout Player

Expect 6’9″ forward Johnny O’Bryant to put it all together this season for the Tigers. After sustaining a hand injury that limited his action for almost the entire month of January, O’Bryant returned to produce solid numbers in the home stretch. He averaged just 8.5 points per game, but his rebounding numbers were at a solid 6.7 per contest despite the midseason setback. While he looked  like a star at times last season, O’Bryant’s potential for Jones’ squad is through the roof this year.

O’Bryant’s dominance will begin and end on the rebounding blocks. He turned in an impressive offensive rebounding percentage of 15.3% overall and 19.8% on the defensive end. That means if this power forward is on the court, it will be tough to snag a missed shot out of his hands. And if he works at all to improve on his sub-par 39.9 shooting percentage from the field, then watch out.

Twitter Style 2012-13 Outlook

New head man Johnny Jones will likely make improvements in Baton Rouge. Just don’t expect too many this season.

Brian Joyce is a writer for the SEC microsite and regular contributor for Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about SEC basketball at bjoyce_hoops

Brian Joyce (333 Posts)

Brian Joyce is an advanced metrics enthusiast, college hoops junkie, and writer for the SEC basketball microsite for Rush the Court.

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