Between a new baby and surgery to repair a left Achilles’ tendon she tore during the offseason in a pickup basketball game with her coaching staff, LSU women’s coach Nikki Caldwell insisted she’s not in shape yet for her trademark high heels.
She wore them anyway to Wednesday’s basketball media day activities at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Sometimes you have to sacrifice comfort for style.
The comfort of diminished expectations could easily be the fall-back position for Caldwell’s second Lady Tigers team.
Gone are six players from last year’s 23-11 squad that reached the second round of the NCAA tournament, players who accounted for just over half of LSU’s scoring and rebounding in 2011-12. This has all the earmarks of a rebuilding campaign.
But Caldwell and her players will have none of that.
“The theme for this year is you win from within,” she said. “Make sure every day we do our very best.
“The accountability factor will be there. Each player has to take ownership of the outcome of every practice and every game. … We want to make sure it’s their game to play and their championship to go after.”
Last season, LSU’s effort revolved around the play of senior LaSondra Barrett, an All-Southeastern Conference performer who led the Lady Tigers in scoring and rebounding and played every position on the floor.
This season, Caldwell said her team will take its keys from senior shooting guard Adrienne Webb, an intense and cerebral player who is LSU’s top returning scorer with 9.9 points per game.
“I’d say we’re hungrier” than last season, Webb said. “Bring ’em on.
“We’re are all hungry to get out there and prove that, sure, we lost five seniors, but with the people we have, we’re able to play our roles.”
The emergence of 5-foot-9 freshman point guard Danielle Ballard means the 5-9 Webb and 5-8 junior Jeanne Kenney of St. Michael the Archangel will likely be able to focus more on playing their more natural shooting guard positions.
LSU will likely operate most of the time of the time out of a three-guard, two-post set with 6-5 junior Theresa Plaisance and 6-2 sophomore Sheila Boykin.
They will rotate with 6-4 junior Shanece McKinney and 6-4 freshman Derreyal Youngblood from John Curtis.
Also in the back court are 5-10 freshman Kuaneshia “Coco” Baker from Harvey Helen Cox, 5-11 Bianca Lutley (LSU’s only other senior) and 6-1 Anne Pedersen, a native of Denmark who redshirted last season with a knee injury.
With only 10 players on the roster, Kenney knows the Lady Tigers will be challenged from a talent standpoint.
“But we have chemistry on this team,” Kenney said. “Chemistry beats talent.”
LSU’s media guide lists Justin Fargas, the father of Caldwell’s 7-month-old daughter Justice Simone Fargas, as her fiancé, but Caldwell said the two have no plans for a wedding date as yet. ... LSU plays home exhibition games Nov. 1 against Xavier and Nov. 6 against North Alabama before opening the regular season Nov. 11 in the PMAC against Wichita State. ... Women’s basketball season tickets went on sale Tuesday and are available at the LSU Athletic Ticket Office. ... LSU will against host first- and second-round NCAA tournament games, March 24 and 26 in the PMAC. ... The Women’s Final Four is April 7 and 9 at New Orleans Arena, site of LSU’s first Final Four appearance in 2004.