Plaisance seven rebounds shy of 1,000 points, 500 rebounds for career

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD --  LSU's Theresa Plaisance battles for a rebound with Jackson State's Bridget Robinson, left, and Kameron Jones in December in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- LSU's Theresa Plaisance battles for a rebound with Jackson State's Bridget Robinson, left, and Kameron Jones in December in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Plaisance 7 rebounds shy of 1,000 points, 500 rebounds

When Theres Plaisance came to LSU out of Vandebilt Catholic, a McDonald’s All-American and two Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year honors on her résumé, she had dreams of being one of the Lady Tigers’ all-time greats.

She finally got there, just a little later than she bargained.

As a freshman in 2010-11, Plaisance averaged about five minutes and two points per game.

Her sophomore campaign was a little better, 4.5 points per contest, but still purely as a reserve player.

Plaisance finally fulfilled her promise her junior season, leading the Southeastern Conference in scoring with 17.0 points per game. Midway through her senior season, she leads all LSU player in scoring and rebounding with 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game and is six rebounds away from becoming just the 18th player in program history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds for her career.

“My first and second years didn’t go the way I wanted and all my dreams and aspirations slowly declined,” Plaisance said.

“Being in that number with such great players is quite an honor. I wouldn’t be able to do any of it without my coaches and teammates to put the ball in my hand.”

The ball will definitely be in Plaisance’s hands often Thursday night, as she and No. 14 LSU take on Auburn.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center between LSU (14-4, 3-2 SEC) and Auburn (11-7, 2-3). The game will be heard locally on WBRP-FM 107.3 and can be seen in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUSports.net.

LSU coach Nikki Caldwell has reaped the benefits of the renaissance in the second half of Plaisance’s career.

“The thing about Theresa is she’s very skilled and can score in multiple ways,” Caldwell said.

“She can hit the 3 and she can post you up and she’s got a midrange jump shot. The sky’s the limit for her.”

With a team that’s only failed to crack the 65-point mark four times this season, Caldwell isn’t overly concerned about offense.

It’s defense that keeps her up late watching game film. Three of the Lady Tigers’ losses have come in poor defensive showings, most recently a 79-70 defeat Sunday at Vanderbilt.

Asked if she has thought about graduating from coaching to threatening on defense, Caldwell smiled and said, “If you guys have something for me let me know. We talk about missing coverages and finding that group of five that’s going to be committed to playing our defense.”

Auburn’s three SEC losses have come at home against ranked opponents. In its last game, a 73-71 loss to No. 10 Kentucky, Auburn built a 13-point first-half lead but was unable to hold on.

“We need to get a victory so that our players can understand that they are good and they are playing well,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy told AuburnSports.com.

Auburn is led by 6-foot-1 senior swingman Tyrese Tanner, third in the SEC with 17.1 points per game.

“She does a great job at the top of their press,” Caldwell said. “She can turn you over there and get a couple of easy baskets. She can post, she’s got a face up game. She’s done a nice job establishing herself as a go to player.”

With all four losses to ranked teams, LSU is ranked No. 4 nationally in RPI behind only Duke, Stanford and Connecticut.

Caldwell wants her team to play up to that lofty number.

“It’s getting to be crunch time,” she said. “I don’t want this team to be that team that waits until the end or toward the end of the conference schedule to make a push. We need to be making that push right now, because each opponent in the SEC is very capable.”