If It Weren't For Bad Luck. . . .
If it weren't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all, right? Tell that to Louisiana State. The Tigers have already played the role of tough-luck loser more than most teams do in a full season (Iowa State football notwithstanding). But I'm not here to proclaim doom and gloom; I want to share what LSU fans already know - despite possessing five non-conference losses, their basketball team is pretty damn good.
Here's a recap of the games LSU lost so far this year -
|@ Cincinnati||72-75||3||LSU missed 3FG at buzzer|
|@ Ohio State||76-78||2||OSU made 3FG w/ 5 sec left|
|@ Connecticut||66-67||1||LSU missed 3FG at buzzer|
If you're scoring at home, or even if you're by yourself, that's five losses by a total of 11 points. And with the exception of Houston, these losses are all to Top 25-worthy teams. Several of those games were virtual toss-ups at the end; it's probably as likely for LSU to have two losses as it is five.
A better indicator of a team's future success can be found by comparing the points it scores and allows. It really comes down to sample sizes. Comparing the successes and failures of a sample size of 1000 (approximate number of LSU possessions so far) is more trust-worthy than one of 15 (number of games played). The Pythagorean winning percentage on Ken Pomeroy's stats page provides that comparison, and even with LSU's five losses, it makes a national ranking of 10-15 appear more appropriate for them than the 30-35 they're currently getting in the polls.
The road ahead looks great for at least a couple reasons.
1) Upcoming Schedule
LSU is already 2-0 in SEC play, and it's entirely plausible that they'll be 9-0 when they face Florida on February 11. The next seven games look like this -
@ Mississippi State
Arkansas is the only decent team in that list, and LSU already beat them in Fayetteville.
2) Emergence of Tyrus Thomas
Tasmin Mitchell got all the ink in the fall preseason magazines, but fellow freshman Thomas is stealing all the headlines now. Since (more than) earning a starting spot six games ago, Thomas is averaging 15.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg, and a ridiculous 4.5 bpg. The advanced stats look even more dominant - .642 eFG%, .199 Reb%, .121 Blk%. Thomas's name belongs with the likes of Hansbrough, Rush, and McRoberts in the discussion of this seasn's most impactful freshmen. While we're on the subject, let's make a quick comparison of the three big men -
|Thomas, LSU ||26.2||121.4||22.8||64.2||17.2||19.9||12.1|
|McRoberts, Duke ||22.6||112.7||17.0||61.3||17.6||12.4||5.2|
|Hansbrough, UNC ||28.8||124.8||24.0||63.1||18.0||13.8||2.6|
Hansbrough is the only one not playing beside another star big man, so his offensive numbers look even more impressive, but Thomas has been dominant in his shot blocking and rebounding, and has been more than efficient with his scoring.
There aren't many (if any) frontcourts as imposing as the tandem of Thomas and Glen Davis. They currently have LSU in the country's top ten in both offensive and defensive rebounding, and in the top 20 for 2-point FG% allowed.