Tigers Struggling To Define Roles
By John Ventola
Poor Joe Alleva, the LSU athletic director inherited a football coach that is a good recruiter, but a mediocre game tactician and strategist. Then four years ago he made the first major hire of his Tiger career by hiring a basketball coach that comes with the same coaching pedigree, good recruiter, mediocre strategist and game coach.
Les Miles and Johnny Jones share more than being head coaches at Louisiana State
University. They share an inability to coach top level recruits. And if the current path of this season’s highly regarded basketball team continues through the upcoming SEC schedule, Jones will soon find his name on the same firing line that Miles experienced last month.
Other factors need to be considered, but when a university can entice No. 1 nationally rated prospects in football and basketball to their campus, conference and national championships should follow. That failing, future players of Leonard Fournette’s and Ben Simmons’ ability, will avoid Baton Rouge because other coaching staffs will not shy away from pointing out that five-star recruits were not “coached up”, and their skill sets were not improved under the tutelage of Tiger coaches.
Whether it is a crucial third down play call, or changing from a zone defense to a man-to-man midway a game, Miles and Jones, both former collegiate athletes, assistant coaches, and products of their college coaches, continue to fall short with rosters full of outstanding athletes. Miles apparently missed some classes taught by his mentor Bo Schembechler, long-time Michigan football coach. Jones, meanwhile, learned everything his mentor Dale Brown knew about the game of basketball. It shows.
Recruiting is one thing, winning is quite another. This blogger has often said that Miles wins because he can recruit. Talent, to put it bluntly, can cover a lot of coaching
blunders. He loses games when the talent level of the opponent is equal or better than that of the Tigers. To his credit, he has pulled some amazing “trick” plays to surprise opponents, but he has never out strategized any coach that I can remember.
Jones? Well, he played for motivator Brown. That should sum it up. Brown himself was a recruiter, a motivator, but never a feared strategist. There are still basketball purists who are trying to figure out Dale’s proclaimed “freak defense”.
When Indiana trailed LSU late in a regional final in 1987, Hoosier coach Bobby Knight said he was not worried because he knew Dale Brown was coaching the other team. Wow! The truth hurts. Knight may have been an arrogant a–, but he knew how to coach the game of basketball. Brown, a smooth talking snake oil salesman, who had a very talented team in 1981, and rode a magical four game winning streak to his second Final Four in 1986, was never used as an example of a solid basketball coach.
If memory serves, Jones, who had played backup guard on Brown’s first Final Four team in 1981, was sitting next to Brown as an assistant during that Indiana game. Stops in Memphis and North Texas showed him to be a decent recruiter, but little else. In fact, Collis Temple (LSU’s first black basketball player recruited by Press Maravich and who
played in Brown’s early years in Tigertown) and Brown pushed the buttons on Alleva’s hire of Jones. Temple is the AAU guru around Baton Rouge, and had two sons, Collis, Jr. and Garrett, play in the LSU program under John Brady and Trent Johnson.
Uncharacteristically LSU stepped out of the South to find someone to replace Brady only three years after he took a talented group (Baton Rouge area’s Glen Davis, Tasmin Mitchell, Garrett Temple, and Tyrus Thomas) to the 2005 Final Four. Buoyed by defeats of Duke and Texas that postseason, Brady ended the 19-year Final Four dry spell, but he could not recapture the magic touch of that year. The outsider, former Stanford coach Trent Johnson, was brought in, but after three lackluster seasons, he left for TCU.
Simmons, the No. 1 rated high school player last year, actually committed to the Tigers in October, 2013, before his junior year at Monteverde Academy in Florida. The 6-10 Australian, whose godfather David Patrick has been on Jones’ staff for the past three years, has the whole package. Patrick played basketball with Simmons’ father Dave in
the National League of Australia. Simmons can shoot, score, rebound, and facilitate his teammates with accurate passing skills. The NBA is in his near future.
Power forward Simmons, who has matured and filled out since coming to America, No. 14 ranked player Antonio Blakeney (the third best shooting guard), and Louisiana MVP Brandon Sampson( another shooting guard) from Madison Prep in Baton Rouge compose this year’s first year players.
Despite the departure of last season’s two stars, Jarell Martin, a 6-9 forward who was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 25th selection in the NBA draft, and Jordan Mickey, a 6-8 Dallas native who went No. 33 to the Boston Celtics, the Tigers were predicted to blend the influx of new, dynamic talent with the return of five veterans (Keith Hornsby, Tim Quarterman, Josh Gray, Jalyn Patterson, and Brian Bridgewater), and a key transfer (Craig Victor), to make a national splash during the 2015-16 season.
Ranked in the nation’s preseason Top 25, LSU has raised eyebrows across the country by getting off to a disappointing 4-4 start. To make a bad situation even worse, the Tigers have lost to teams ranked No. 134, 174, 88, and 163 in RPI ratings released Sunday. How do you spell “under achievers”?
Sure Hornsby missed the first seven games due to injury, but Jones is probably in a small number of coaches that would lose four games against that type of competition.
Jones has posted respectable won loss records in his first three seasons (winning 19, 20, and 22 games while going 9-9, 9-9, and 11-7 in the SEC), but his current squad
appears to be floundering as they try to figure out their individual roles. The versatile Simmons went out one night and scored 43 to lead LSU over North Florida—-not Florida, North Florida, then takes only seven shots before fouling out in regulation in a game the Tigers lost to Houston in overtime. Both North Florida and Houston scored over 100 points, proving once again Jones sat at the right hand of the “motivator”. Jones defenses, like Brown’s, are often freakish, and rarely hold any team, or top scorer, in check.
Simmons deserves a better showcase for his many talents. Sad that he chose the route to Baton Rouge to join a team and coach that made their first NCAA appearance in three seasons last year. In that game against North Carolina State, the Tigers were leading by 16 points late in the second half, but somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 66-65.
Coaching and strategy are not Johnny Jones’ strong suit.
Those facts should have Alleva sending out feelers for a new basketball coach soon.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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