It may only be an exhibition, but new LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell wants to make sure one key thought is ingrained in her players from the start:
“Our offense may not be as sharp as we need it to be right now, but mentally and emotionally the area where you want a player to be is on attack mode all the time,” said Caldwell, who leads her Lady Tigers into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. preseason game with Xavier of New Orleans at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“I’d rather have to dial you down than dial you up.”
Since arriving at LSU after a three-year stint as coach at UCLA, Caldwell has promised a full-court, up-tempo, pressing style.
The numbers are in her favor. The Lady Tigers return 10 players from last season’s 19-13 team that narrowly missed a 13th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, a miss that led to former coach Van Chancellor’s ouster.
Chancellor favored half-court defense and motion offense, two concepts that will not find a seat in what LSU officials hope will be a fuller PMAC this season.
“Sometimes you get a team in your first or second year and you feel the need to coach them and coach them,” Caldwell said. “But you forget what caught your eye that made you want to sign them.
“I want them to get back to playing with that freedom, that looseness, but also with that focus on scoring and on transition. If it (a shot) is not there, then we set it up.”
The Lady Tigers are led by three returning starters: 6-foot-2 senior forward LaSondra Barrett, a preseason All-SEC selection; 6-2 senior forward Taylor Turnbow and 5-9 junior guard Adrienne Webb.
This will be the first chance for Lady Tigers fans to see two of LSU’s highly touted freshmen: 6-4 forward Krystal Forthan and 6-2 forward Sheila Boykin. Forthan was ranked as the nation’s No. 5 recruit by ESPNU, while Boykin (a former Caldwell commitment at UCLA) ranked No. 27.
LSU’s third freshman, 6-1 guard Anne Pedersen, will sit out the Xavier game because of a recurring knee injury from high school.
Two tickets will be given away at halftime to the LSU-Alabama football game. Fans must come dressed in “spirited” purple and gold attire and win a dance-off competition. Tickets are $3-10. There is no charge for LSU students. LSU was ranked No. 22 Tuesday in the preseason USA Today coaches’ poll. The Lady Tigers were No. 21 in The Associated Press poll. The game can be heard on KLSU-FM, 91.1 and seen free in the LSUSports.net “GeauxZone.”