Da Boot Sports
By: Terrill J. Weil
BATON ROUGE, LA: “This is the first official practice. I have been on the floor with them six times, two hours each time. I think it’s too early to give my assessment of returning players and new players, but I can tell you during those six practices that we had, I saw young people that wanted to do good. They wanted to impress me. They played hard.” Stated the first year LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey before their first official practice in front of fans and media on Wednesday afternoon.
Coach Mulkey mentioned that there would be several former players in attendance at the practice. "We're going to have former players at practice today, those are players who go back to the Sue Gunter days, those are players that recently finished, some are WNBA players. To have them come to practice speaks volumes. I think the history of women's basketball at LSU speaks for itself. Those five Final Fours were phenomenal, it was exciting during that era." Mulkey said. "We from a distance was a part of understanding and appreciating what they were doing here because you know we played them in 2005 in the semi-finals of the Final Four. So being from Louisiana, I'm always keeping up with the State. I know the history here. I know the history of women's basketball at LSU. I know the history of good players in Louisiana. It's exciting for me, but a lot of young people don't know that history. So when you recruit, you must sell those players, you must sell the history, you must sell the coaches that came before me and we will do that. Our theme for the year will be, .. 'Respect the Pass and Embrace the Future'.."
When asked about the leadership of graduate student Khayla Pointer, Mulkey would add. "From my perspective I think she's doing great. Great in recruiting when we've had recruits on campus. Obviously because she's older and this is her COVID year, she can tell more about LSU probably more then we can as a coaching staff. She is Niki Fargas' niece, so she has a great love for the previous staff, but she also embraces the new staff. She is a ALL-Conference player. She is a leader out there on the floor. But she's learning. It's a new system for her. But she will be one of our leaders as will Faust and Jailin Cherry."
"We have goals." said Mulkey. "and our goals are in their notebooks and in fact when I leave from speaking with you guys, I'll go in that locker room and we will be reminded of those goals. So when we step on that floor today, this is why we're playing. Those goals will be realistic. They will not be unrealistic. Now I know how fans are. Listen, everyone wants everything yesterday. It doesn't work that way. It is a long process to get where you want to go. It may not happen as quick as we would like it. It might happen quicker then we thought. I don't know. I can't project that. All I know is that I can go out there and coach those kids that I have inherited, those kids that came with me and let's see what we can do together."
The Tigers have nine players returning from last season's team along with six first-year players. Guard Khayla Pointer will return for her COVID season and will no doubt continue to be a team leader. Last season she was named All-SEC and made the SEC All-Defensive team last season.
Sophomore Center Hannah Gusters, followed Mulkey from Baylor after recording six double-figure scoring games last season for the Bears.
Another nice addition to the team is Amani Bartlett who signed with the Tigers after LSU hired Mulkey. She is a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt.
Wednesday’s practice placed a heavy emphasis on defensive rotations, crashing the defensive glass, getting out on the fast break and transitioning into a half-court offense. The practice concluded with the Tigers matching up in halfcourt five-on-five. LSU will practice 29 more times leading up to its season opener against Nicholls.
Before the Lady Tigers tip-off the season, they will host two exhibition games which will both be free for fans to attend. Those games will be against Langston Oct. 30 at 2:00pm and Loyola on Nov. 4 at 6:30pm.
Get your tickets now Tiger Fans. These games will be fun to attend.... GEAUX TIGERS!!!