DULUTH, G a . — As the LSU Lady Tigers traveled here for the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament, they were forced to leave a key member of the team behind.
Sophomore forward Sheila Boykin was diagnosed Feb. 20 with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system.
Boykin was hospitalized for several days and will miss the rest of the season. She also is prohibited from traveling.
“We’re talking about doing (video chat) with her at the gym and in the locker room,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “She can’t be with us physically, but she will be with us.”
Boykin has started attending LSU practices and said she plans to be in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center when the No. 22 Lady Tigers begin play in the NCAA tournament March 24.
Usually her place in a basketball arena is on the court, but former LSU women’s basketball player Scholanda Dorrell (formerly Hoston) was like any other fan in the stands Thursday night watching the Lady Tigers take on Auburn.
Well, not like just any fan. This is a fan who’s preparing for her eighth WNBA season, including her third with the Tulsa Shock.
Dorrell, who played at LSU in 2001-02 and from 2003-06, said it was her first time to attend the tournament as a fan.
“I’m excited to see the game,” said Dorrell, sporting an LSU ball cap, gold LSU T-shirt and purple (what else?) shade of lipstick. “I hope they can ride their momentum into the tournament.”
A Miami native, Dorrell, 30, said she lives in Houston during the offseason. Her daughter, Aishida, whose birth caused Dorrell to sit out the 2002-03 season, recently turned 10.
Former LSU gymnast Sandra Smith-Thompson was recognized at halftime of Thursday’s game as the school’s honoree as part of this year’s SEC Women’s Legends program.
Smith-Thompson was a four-time All-American at LSU from 1980-83, leading the Tigers to their only SEC championship in gymnastics in 1981. She won SEC vault and floor titles in 1981, floor in 1982 and vault again in 1983.
Other SEC legends being honored at this year’s tournament include Dominique Canty, Alabama basketball; Blair Savage-Lansden, Arkansas basketball; Becky Jackson, Auburn basketball; Sophia Witherspoon, Florida basketball; Keisha Brown, Georgia basketball; Jenny Hansen, Kentucky gymnatics; Alexis Rack, Mississippi State basketball; Joni Davis, Missouri basketball; Lashinda Demus, South Carolina track and field; Kyra Elzy, Tennessee basketball; Kelly Krauskopf, Texas A&M basketball; and Ashley McElhiney, Vanderbilt basketball.
Each honoree was to be recognized at halftime of their school’s first tournament game.
Alabama managed just 14 field goals in its 77-35 blowout loss to South Carolina on Thursday.
That tied an SEC tournament record most recently matched by LSU and Arkansas in the Lady Tigers’ 41-40 victory over the Razorbacks in last year’s tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
Four quarterfinal games are on tap Friday, starting with SEC regular-season champion Tennessee (23-6) at 11 a.m. CST against No. 9 Florida (18-13). No. 4 seed Texas A&M (21-9) then takes on No. 5 South Carolina (24-6) at 1:30 p.m.
The evening session begins with No. 7 Vanderbilt (20-10) against No. 2 Kentucky (25-4) at 5 p.m., followed by LSU’s matchup with No. 3 Georgia (24-5) at 7:30.
Semifinals begin at 3 p.m. Saturday, with the championship game set for 5 p.m. Sunday.
LSU players wore pink shoes for the seventh straight game. The Lady Tigers started wearing them as part of an all-pink uniform for the Georgia game Feb. 10, which started LSU’s winning streak. ... LSU junior guard Jeanne Kenney is LSU’s representative on the 2013 SEC Community Service Team. … Tennessee has won 16 of the 33 previous conference tournaments, including the past three. … Friday’s games can be seen on FSN. Saturday’s semifinals will be on ESPNU, and Sunday’s championship game will be on ESPN2. Games also can be heard on XM 199 and Sirius 126.
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