With two closed-door scrimmages and an exhibition game behind it, the LSU basketball team heads into its final week of preseason practice before Friday night’s season opener with Alcorn State.
The Tigers have only a few more practices to correct the issues that plagued them on both ends of the floor in Tuesday night’s 84-74 exhibition loss to Tulane in New Orleans.
Coach Will Wade was dismayed by his team’s performance, particularly on defense. Tulane scored 47 second-half points and shot an impressive 54.2 percent from the field for the game to secure the victory.
“We’ve been working on defense for six months, we just have to get better,” said Wade, whose team faced Texas in a closed scrimmage Saturday in Houston. “We've got to play harder with what we’re doing. We know what to do. We just have to play it better, and we’ve got to have a want-to to play it better.”
Offensively, guard Skylar Mays was the only LSU player to shoot better than 50 percent from the field. He was 8 of 13, including 8 of 11 in the second half, but the Tigers hit just 29.3 percent in the first period and 36.4 percent for the game.
Will Wade was anything but a happy camper Thursday.
“Our standards just aren’t high enough,” Wade said. “When you raise the standards a little bit, they feel like they’ve done something. Well, the standards are a lot higher than where we are right now.
“Some of our guys think our standards may be a little high, but that’s just the way it’s going to be. We’re not giving in. We’re not lowering our expectations or lowering our standards. That would not be doing anybody any good.”
Help on the way?
LSU played the exhibition game without forwards Jeremy Combs and Aaron Epps, two players Wade hopes to have available for Friday night’s season opener in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Wade is hopeful that Combs and Epps will give 6-foot-11 forward Duop Reath, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds against Tulane, some help in the low post with their girth and height.
Combs, who has been sidelined since having ankle surgery Sept. 18, was recently cleared to return, Wade said. Epps, who has been out nearly two weeks with a foot injury, came out of his walking boot late in the week and may return soon.
“We need somebody else down there who’s sturdy,” Wade said. “Duop, down there, is sturdy. We need someone else who’s got some girth and is sturdy and can hold their ground down there in there in the post.”
In time, Will Wade thinks his LSU basketball team will be a good-shooting unit.
Wade will host the first of five Tipoff Luncheons for the upcoming season at noon Tuesday at the L’auberge Hotel and Casino.
In what has become an annual tradition, LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas, whose team opens the season Friday night at South Florida, will be the first guest speaker.
The event will be held in the Bon Temps Buffet at the back of the casino area. The buffet, which costs $14.95 per person, will be available starting at 11:30 a.m.
Tickets for the Tigers’ season opener with Alcorn State start at $1 and are available at six area Winn-Dixie stores, the LSU athletics ticket office and online at LSUtix.net.
Season ticket packages for the 17-game home schedule, which start at $100, are still available as well as three- and five-game miniplans and tickets for groups or 10 or more.