Lady Tigers will feature more quickness

LSU women’s basketball senior forward Theresa Plaisance has seen the future, and she knows it’s coming fast.

Asked Tuesday at a team media availability about what will be the difference between this year’s LSU team and the one last year that closed strongly to earn the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2008, the All-Southeastern Conference star didn’t hesitate.

“Speed,” Plaisance replied. “Our freshmen are so quick. I try to keep up with them, but I might not make it to halfcourt before they make a layup.”

A fuel-injection of new guards has added new dimensions to LSU’s ability to attack opposing teams offensively and pressure them defensively.

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell won’t go as far as to say that her third Lady Tigers team will be her first to truly play the style of basketball she wants, but there’s little doubt this team goes a long way down that road.

“I like to adapt to the roster we have,” said Caldwell, who is 45-23 at LSU with two NCAA tournament appearances. “The first two years we had a lot of bigs.

“Last year we only had 10 players and at times just seven or eight down the stretch.

“We like to have strong guard play that can disrupt people in the full-court setting. Plus having more people who can handle the basketball will allow us to be more creative in our offense.”

LSU’s available 10-player roster includes highly touted freshman guard Raigyne Moncrief, a 5-foot-10 standout from Fort Lauderdale who Caldwell hopes can be the signal of a reopened South Florida talent pipeline back to the days of players like Marie Ferdinand and Sylvia Fowles.

Moncrief, the nation’s No. 6-ranked guard prospect by ESPN, will be expected to make a significant contribution right away and likely earn a starting spot.

“I feel great about it,” Moncrief said of her role on the team, “but I still have to work for it extra hard. I’m still a freshman and need to learn.”

Moncrief is joined in this year’s class of newcomers by 5-9 junior college transfer DaShawn Harden, 5-7 freshman Rina Hill and 5-10 freshman Jasmine Rhodes.

“These three young ladies are having to learn how to run our offense,” Caldwell said, “but we never have to question their work ethic.”

LSU opens a two-game exhibition schedule Oct. 30 against Tennessee Temple, followed by a second exhibition game Nov. 2 against Mississippi College.

LSU’s regular season opener will be Nov. 8 against Stephen F. Austin in the Sue Gunter Classic, which will also serve as the Lady Tigers’ opener in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

At the other end of the season, LSU has put in a bid to host NCAA tournament first- and second-round games at the PMAC for the third straight year.

Host sites will be announced next week.