Salty Will Wade has his signature moment as LSU basketball coach
SEC Country reporter Alex Hickey will answer your LSU Tigers sports queries each weekday in our LSU Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryLSU, @bigahickey or by email to Alex at email@example.com.
Question of the Day: Thursday, March 15
Life is always hitting you with surprises.
For example: On the day the NCAA Tournament gets underway, people can’t stop talking to me about an NIT game.
Such was the atmosphere at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Wednesday night when LSU and Louisiana-Lafayette met in a game that had a little bit of everything — including an opposing coach restrained from going after first-year LSU coach Will Wade 12 seconds before the final buzzer. And as entertaining as that was, it barely held a candle to Will Wade’s postgame news conference.
Wade made a number of proclamations, opening with the type of statement that ends up on billboards: “We’re about action, not talk, here.”
That bring us to the question for Thursday.
Is this Will Wade’s signature moment at LSU?
While Wade had plenty of victories this season in turning LSU around from a 10-21 record, none of them had the type of “wow” factor that gets a fan base buzzing. By the end of the NCAA tourney, people might look back and realize LSU’s win over Michigan in Maui in November fits that bill, but at the time, Wade’s basketball team was still flying well under the radar.
Rivals might scoff at the notion that an 84-76 win over a Sun Belt team in the NIT could be a signature moment. But this one was important.
It demonstrated that Wade will not abide by anyone talking smack about his program. Louisiana-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin wasn’t necessarily wrong in a factual sense with some of the things he said in his Monday press conference. LSU has struggled in recent years and Louisiana-Lafayette has been better. The recently renovated Cajundome is probably a nicer facility than the PMAC, which Wade is itching to improve.
Really, Marlin was mostly throwing shade on Wade’s predecessor, Johnny Jones. But that didn’t matter. Wade made it personal, and his team came out swinging. They met in the NIT, but the Tigers played as if they had a Final Four berth on the line. That’s an important thing to remember for when Wade actually has the talent at his disposal to reach the Final Four. This might be his signature moment for Year 1, but it’s bound to be replaced by others.
Marlin, by the way, deserves some gratitude from the LSU fan base. He was just trying to fire up his own fans and defend the strength of his program. Instead, he accidentally kicked open a beehive. If Wade’s response is any indication, LSU basketball won’t stop buzzing any time soon.
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