Friday, May 2, 2008

Old news, piping hot analysis

Of course, dear reader, you're probably aware that LSU hired Trent Johnson of Stanford to be the next basketball coach of LSU. A welcome change in my opinion, as  I wanted Brady gone long ago (a topic for a more protracted and boring offseason methinks).

Like everyone else, I thought LSU would try the promising but not completely proven method of hiring the up and comer. Anthony Grant and Travis Ford were the names on everyone's lips and keyboards. I really never considered that LSU would seek out a proven winner at a more top flight basketball program. I was pleasantly surprised.

First blush:  Johnson, while on the books having a less stellar tourney record than Brady, strikes me as an actual coach. The talent will always be here. It's Louisiana. So recruiting is almost a non factor. But the coaching, the x's and o's, especially during a game, is where we'll see the quality of this hire. 

That brings me to my salient point. To be completely honest, I love the fact that LSU has hired a black coach from a prestigious school like Stanford. Colorblindness, best man getting the job, I'd like to buy the world a coke bullshit aside, it matters to some kids when their new daddy is a black man. It's unspoken because it is yet still a sensitive topic. But if this guy is capable and black, it will only help. I'm not saying we would have DJ Augustin or Chris Duhon here instead of Texas and Duke if Johnson was the man. 

But the fact of having a competent coach who can focus more on the x's and o's and grades than the booze and the girls, and who just happens to be black, it ain't going to hurt. We'll win and win with quality, smart kids that Johnson can attract and coach up. No more Tack Minor bringing the ball up single handed against a merciless full court press because hell, it's just gotta effing work (that UAB embarassment by the way, is when I knew you, me or my Mom knew more than Brady). 

Looking towards the future, I like what I see and what it happening. Johnson insists on a harder schedule and has gotten current coaches to stick around. This can only be good for LSU.

Johnson has retained Butch Pierre to stay for the time being. And that's good for more than continuity. It's always a positive to have asst. coaches stick around. But it is already paying dividends as South Oak Cliff (Dallas) standout big man J'Mison Morgan (6'10",  275 lbs.) has reaffirmed his commitment to LSU. To quote the Baton Rouge Advocate (Friday, April 25, 2008), " Morgan said several times that his LSU future might hinge on whether Pierre was retained in some capacity". So there you are, the #25  and #29 player is sticking with the Tigers because of just this topic.

I like the idea that Johnson is already positioning LSU to play solid opponents. Brady did this in an acceptable fashion. LSU played UC0nn, A&M and others. It's nice to see Johnson setting the bar just as high or higher with home and home match ups with Washington St (2008 Sweet 16) and Xavier (2008 Elite 8) while continuing the neutral site A&m series. More (possible ACC powers) are in the works. LSU doesn't need to rachet down the competition while building a winning tradition.

One topic I think that got lost in all of this is Money. LSU hired away Johnson to start at salary higher than we was making at Stanford. This is significant because of a couple of factors. Playing in a competitive league such as the SEC forced the LSU AD to go out and hire someone who was winning at the level we expect, but from a less rewarding market. LSU has the spliff laying around to do this because of our revenue machine that is LSU football. Never let it be said that being able to spend more in other areas because of our success in football, is not a huge boon to the overall success of LSU athletics.

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