Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU running back Derrius Guice

LSU football tweet in joy, frustration about the NCAA Tournament

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we catch up on the NCAA Tournament, discuss the future of LSU basketball, reflect on a weekend of champions and much, much more. Enjoy!

LSU football players are just like you

Chances are, if you’re reading this column on purpose, you spent at least a couple of minutes in the last four days watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Because, c’mon, sports are fun.

You know who else shares that opinion? LSU football players. Yep. If you go through a weekend’s worth of tweets from LSU’s athletes, you’ll find more than a few reactions to some of the more notable moments in the first two rounds of the tournament.

So, I’ll save you the dirty work of scrolling through four days of tweets. Here are some of the more notable reactions of the weekend, starting, as always, with LSU running back Derrius Guice and his love of UCLA guard Lonzo Ball.

But Guice wasn’t the only player watching Sunday night. A self-proclaimed die-hard Duke fan, defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence took last night’s outcome with grace.

D.J. Chark, on the other hand, didn’t like seeing his bracket get busted.

Chark wasn’t the only LSU football player who got burned. Just ask Kristian Fulton.

Speaking of basketball …

Reports surfaced Sunday connecting Virginia Commonwealth head coach Will Wade as a favorite for the LSU men’s basketball coaching vacancy. A hot young name in the coaching world, Wade is a 34-year-old who has led VCU for two seasons. In those two seasons, his Rams went 51-20 and went to two NCAA Tournaments, going 1-2 with losses to Oklahoma and Saint Mary’s.

lsu-lsu football
VCU head coach Will Wade (Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

Here are another couple of factoids about Wade, in case you’re not familiar with his work.

  • Wade went to Clemson and worked there as a student manager and later graduate assistant under Oliver Purnell.
  • His first head coaching job was at Chattanooga, where he led the Mocs for two seasons and, in 2014, was named the Southern Conference Coach of the Year.
  • In his two seasons at VCU, Wade’s teams have had the No. 24 and No. 36-ranked defenses in the nation by KenPom statistics.
  • Wade’s VCU team defeated Johnny Jones’ LSU squad early on this season down in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving break. You probably missed the game because it was on right around the same time as LSU football’s coaching search of its own.

Your weekly LSU athletics poll question

Let’s stay on theme with this week’s poll question.

Wade is obviously a front-runner to win the job at LSU. But he’s not the only candidate who’s been connected to the program. Middle Tennessee State’s Kermit Davis is thought to be a leading candidate, as is former Indiana coach Tom Crean. Then there are guys like Nevada’s Eric Musselman, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm and Northwestern’s Chris Collins who have all been in the discussion since the beginning.

So, I leave it up to you. Who do you want to be the next LSU basketball coach? Vote in the poll down below and we’ll discuss your answers in Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday.

 

One last men’s basketball note

While we’re still tangentially on the topic of the NCAA Tournament, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the success the SEC has seen in the first two rounds this year.

Kentucky and Florida did what was expected of them and advanced to the Sweet 16 like the favorites they were. Arkansas nearly knocked off UNC for a Sweet 16 berth of its own. Vanderbilt was, well, let’s leave the Commodores alone for now.

And then there was South Carolina, which knocked off No. 2 Duke to put the cap on a magical weekend for the Southeastern Conference.

Now, this doesn’t validate a season of terribleness. The SEC was still a bad conference this season. But this does shine some hope for two years from now.

Next season’s recruiting is pretty much done. Schools such as LSU get most of their recruits for the early signing period almost a year in advance. But for two years from now, the class coaches are recruiting now? Those kids are seeing the SEC light up the nation on the brightest stage. And that’s a great sign for SEC basketball. As schools such as Arkansas, Vanderbilt and South Carolina improve, every school in the conference improves alongside them.

If your conference looks good, your school looks better. Simple as that. And LSU is going to start receiving a bump from the rest of the conference soon enough. Especially if South Carolina or Florida can make a deep run. Kentucky does it every year. But a new SEC team making a run?

That’d be something special.

Your weekly LSU non-revenue sports recap

It truly was a banner weekend for LSU athletics. One team competed on a national stage. Another won a conference championship. A third upset a powerhouse program. And the school’s prestige program dominated a conference opponent.

Here’s a recap of the events, in case you missed them:

  • The No. 2 LSU gymnastics team won the 2017 SEC Gymnastics Championship on Saturday, trucking through high-quality opponents such as No. 4 Florida, No. 6 Alabama and No. 8 Georgia en route to LSU’s first title since 1981.
  • LSU women’s tennis team secured its highest-ranked victory in school history Sunday, defeating No. 5 Auburn. Earlier in the weekend, LSU also defeated Alabama. With the two wins, LSU improved to 11-4 overall and 4-2 in SEC play.
  • In the NCAA women’s basketball tournament’s first round, LSU competed against and lost to No. 9 seed California in heartbreaking fashion. The Tigers had a chance to take the lead with less than 30 seconds left by failed to execute the offensive game plan, resulting in a season-ending loss.
  • LSU’s baseball team swept Georgia in its SEC-opening series this past weekend. The Tigers exploded for 22 runs in a Friday night blowout, before settling into close games Saturday and Sunday but ultimately coming out victorious. Oddly, LSU batters were hit by 12 pitches across three games over the weekend.
  • The LSU beach volleyball team hosted four opponents this past weekend and defeated them all. LSU took down Tulane, South Carolina, Florida International and North Florida.
  • Softball played four opponents in the Rock Chalk Invitation in Kansas and went 3-1, defeating Omaha, Kansas and Southeast Missouri while losing to Tulsa.
  • The men’s tennis team lost to Alabama, 6-1, in Tuscaloosa.

Today in quite real holidays

Because the Earth is a sphere that rotates, we have seasons. And thanks to that, and also the arbitrary way we as humans have decided to keep time, Monday marks the first day of spring.

Don’t believe me? Check out the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Unlike every other holiday I talk about in this column, this one is very real.

So, how do we celebrate this one? By the time this column will be posted, the equinox will have come and passed, so we can’t really have a big watch party. And LSU athletics has already started celebrating spring. Baseball, softball, tennis and outdoor track and field are all deep into their schedules. Not to mention LSU football spring practice, which began last week.

Here’s what I propose: (Side note: Today is National Proposal Day.)

Let’s celebrate spring the way we celebrate everything here in the Bayou Bengal Briefing. By making it about the LSU football team. The team’s spring game is just more than a month away, so here is a list of things that I think the team needs to achieve before the game. Some serious, some not:

  1. Find starters at wide receiver, cornerback, safety and outside linebacker.
  2. Put a random jersey and a fake mustache on Ethan Pocic and pass him off as a really big walk-on.
  3. Name a starting quarterback and stick with him to build up some confidence.
  4. Lock Derrius Guice in a hyperbaric bubble until August and don’t let him out.
  5. Groom freshmen such as JaCoby Stevens and Grant Delpit to take over as the future in the fall or in 2018.
  6. Have Matt Canada and Ed Orgeron share their energy drinks with Dave Aranda one day just to see what he’d be like when he’s hyper.
  7. Ensure that injured players such as J.D. Moore and Will Clapp still have time to learn the new offense.
  8. Fake out the NFL scouts in attendance by having Lanard Fournette run instead of Leonard Fournette at pro day.

Those are just some of my suggestions. If you have more, leave them down in the comments below.

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