Trent Johnson's LSU Tigers Look To Bright Future, What About This Year?

Henry BallSenior Analyst INovember 12, 2009

The 2008 - 2009 SEC Coach of the Year, Trent Johnson recently announced the signing of a top ten early recruiting class and looks to be in position to put together a very special squad for the 2011 team.


The apparent recruiting success as well as Johnson's first year results—27-8 finish, SEC Championship, and second round NCAA appearance—have the Bayou faithful feeling like the future is so bright they are going to need shades!


The only problem—with LSU losing SEC Player of the Year Marcus Thornton, one of the league's best defensive big-men in Chris Johnson, ball-handler Garrett Temple, and talented workmen Terry Martin, Quintin Thornton and Delwan Graham—is no one is running out to invest in the Ray-Bans just yet.


The Tigers are figured to finish at or near the bottom of the SEC West in a year that many experts feel the league will be vastly improved


Indeed, a rebuilding year would be perfectly understandable for Johnson's crew that includes only two seniors, one of which has already been sidelined for at least six weeks as guard Alex Farer—a projected starter—sustained a kneecap injury in a preseason scrimmage.


The other senior may be the key to another surprising season.  Tasmin Mitchell the 6'7" small forward averaged over 16 points and seven rebounds last year and has been named to the Naismith Award Watch List.  He was also a unanimous pick for the Coaches Pre-Season All SEC First Team.


Mitchell decided to forego the NBA draft to return for his senior season.  With Tasmin almost certainly being a key feature of the offense it could be a special year.


Power forward Storm Warren could take a lot of pressure off of Mitchell if he is able to play to his potential, which at times last year made him unstoppable.  Yet he remained inconsistent and made costly mistakes in critical situations down the stretch.


Point guards Bo Spencer and Chris Bass will both see a lot of playing time though Spencer will clearly be the starter and could be one of the most underrated players in the SEC.


Sophomore center Garrett Green, who wore a red shirt last year due to back injuries, will need to be healthy and improve his production from his freshmen year in 2007 - 2008 (1.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg, .02 blks).


Depth will by far be the biggest issue; until Farer returns coach Johnson will only dress eight scholarship players with four walk-ons.  Additional injuries could decimate this team.


Johnson's teams are known to be well conditioned and play with strong fundamentals and solid defense, if that is the case the Tigers could stay in a lot of games and have chances late to steal wins from deeper teams.


It is not unreasonable to think that this might be a tough year for the Bayou Bengals. 


On the other hand, Johnson has done more with less in the past by taking undermanned Nevada to the Sweet 16 and guiding Pac 10 middle-weight Standford to four straight post seasons, including a Sweet 16 appearance two years ago.


Tiger fans are being cautiously optimistic, even as Coach Johnson—In an effort to build excitement for this year's team—joined the Athletic Department in purchasing 500 tickets to offer freely for this Friday's opener versus UL-Monroe at the Maravich Assembly Center.


My advice to Tiger Nation; get behind this team, take the free ticket and geaux (go) buy the Ray-Bans, the future starts now!




By Henry Ball (a.k.a. Southern Man) Featured Columnist and Syndicated Writer

Henry contributes to the Bleacher Report , College Gameday Network  and other sports media outlets.

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{Note: I have been asked to cover the LSU Basketball team as a Featured Columnist.  I invite all you Tiger Fans and anyone just wanting to keep up with some good basketball to join me in the LSU BB Community for a great season - Thanks!}

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