LSU Basketball: What It Takes To Win a Title

Jacob KerrContributor IFebruary 14, 2009

After a great game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Louisiana State University Tigers are 20-4 overall with an 8-1 conference record.

They have been able to achieve this by executing the fundamentals—a lost art indeed.

Going into the game against Ole Miss, LSU will be without Bo Spencer due to injury.

Even though Spencer has a sprained ankle, LSU should handle the Ole Miss Rebels with ease on Saturday. LSU should hold Spencer out of the Arkansas game just for precautionary reasons as well.

LSU could win the game with ease because Arkansas' point guard Courtney Fortson is suspended indefinitely—so LSU should be fine.

In the upcoming month, LSU will still have its team chemistry with Spencer coming back when Auburn comes to Baton Rouge. Though his injury might throw his timing off a bit with his teammates, he will do just fine.

With Spencer out, LSU is missing a proven point guard who is dead-eye from three point territory. Garrett Temple will do fine as point guard in Spencer's absence because he has played that position for the past two years.

For LSU, the next month will prove to the nation if they are for real or not. During this month, they must go up against powerhouse Florida and two teams on the rise—Auburn and Kentucky.

If LSU can sweep those games they will be just fine going into March—if they can continue to do the following things the way they have:

LSU needs to have consistent shooting. If LSU wants to make a strong run at a national title, they must make their shots. This will help them put more pressure on the opposition and make the game come to them.

The two players that must shoot consistently are Chris Johnson and Garrett Temple. If they can make their shots, then it will leave Tasmin Mitchell, Marcus Thornton, and Spencer open for shots.

Second, LSU needs to control the game from the opening tip to the final whistle. If they can do this, it will help them execute their plays to perfection. If they don't, then they are going to get a repeat dosage of what happened to them at Utah.

If they want to keep the game at their own pace, then they don't need to take shots early in the shot clock.

Thirdly, they need to play excellent defense. If they play well on defense, then they can get easy buckets on offense which will help build momentum.

Also, they really can't give up easy shots. If that starts to happen, then the opponent will run the same play over and over because LSU can't find an answer.

As most people have seen in recent games, Johnson has been attacked by the opposition. He needs to learn how to stand his ground and not get back downed to the hoop, which is what players have been doing to him just about every game.

Fourth, they need to keep the fouls to a minimum. LSU can't expect to win every game by fouling excessively. As you foul, the opposition has a better chance at making free throws than a well-contested shot.

In the last game LSU had four players foul out. LSU could have easily lost that game because they fouled enough to enable Mississippi State to shoot 52 free throws. Trent Johnson needs to work with his team on not fouling.

The final thing LSU must do is make their free throws. If they can make their free throws, then they will have a better chance of winning close games. There have been games won and lost on free throws.

If LSU can do all of these things, they will do fine come March Madness and they will hopefully bring home the school's second national title.

There have been questions on LSU's potential such as: "Is LSU good or do they just play in a bad conference?", and have been called "the worst 20-4 team in the nation." Well, you tell me this, if LSU would have played Xavier, Texas A&M, and Utah the way they are playing now do you think LSU would beat them?

When LSU played them, they had a poor night of shooting and we weren't playing LSU basketball. I can guarantee that if they play any of those teams again, they will beat them handily.

Also, isn't conference play harder than non-conference play? All the LSU haters—think about that.

LSU is as good as any team in the nation and will prove that come tournament time.