Jim Engster: Mulkey had Talented Predecessors

LSU women's basketball landed five new players bringing its roster size to 12. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes

LSU Women’s basketball has secured a top three position for major sports at LSU. With Kim Duane Mulkey’s 2023 national championship, the program ranks behind only football and baseball in the pecking order with Mulkey’s extravagant contract and LSU’s willingness to embrace almost $8-million in annual red ink providing evidence.

Mulkey has lifted her program into the national spotlight with spectacular post-season success and a penchant for provocative quips, elaborate wardrobe choices and command of the camera. Kim possesses not only the special coaching sauce that comes with four national titles at two universities, but also showcases sales acumen to attract both fans and recruits.

So here we go with a couple of trivia questions about LSU women’s basketball.

Who is the last LSU to capture the SEC women’s championship, and who are the two coaches to go undefeated in the league?

LSU zealots may find it hard to comprehend, but the last SEC season title for women’s hoops was 16 years ago. In his first year as coach in 2008, Van Winston Chancellor inherited a talented crew assembled by Dana Pokey Chatman and led the Lady Tigers to a conference crown, going 14-0 in the league.

LSU advanced to the Final Four in 2008 and lost to national champion Tennessee 47-46. The anchor was Sylvia Fowles, who averaged 17 points and ten rebounds.

It was the second unbeaten conference record for the LSU women. Chatman’s team of 2005 was also 14-0 in the SEC and advanced to the Final Four.

Chatman’s units captured SEC titles in 2008 and 2009 and made four consecutive Final Four appearances, records that even Mulkey will be challenged to match.

These numbers are more remarkable when it is noted that Sue Gunter did not win a regular season title in 22 years and never coached in a Final Four.

Kelly’s Record after Two Seasons

Brian Kelly embarks on his third tour through the SEC with a luxury no LSU coach has enjoyed since 2006. Les Miles was the last LSU grid leader to savor a November without seeing Nick Saban across the field.

The legendary Alabama leader has departed the league with a 117-18 SEC record in 17 years at Tuscaloosa.

When Saban arrived in Baton Rouge 25 Novembers ago, he inherited a program that had produced eight losing seasons in the previous eleven campaigns. Immediately, Saban started winning and four years later, he hoisted a crystal trophy to savor the first of seven national championships.

Saban holds the record for best two-year turnaround at LSU, but Kelly is not far behind.

Here’s how the last ten LSU coaches have fared in their first two seasons compared with the two seasons that preceded them.

 Coach                                           First 2 years at LSU                   2 years prior to arrival                             Win Difference

Nick Saban                                  18-7                                                7-15                                                11

Brian Kelly                                    20-7                                                11-12                                              9

Gerry DiNardo                                          17-6-1                                            9-13                                                    8

Bill Arnsparger                                          17-5-2                                            12-10-1                                                         5

Les Miles                                      22-4                                                22-4                                                0

Mike Archer                                 18-5-1                                            18-5-1                                            0

Charles McClendon                16-5-1                                            16-5-2                                            0

Curley Hallman                         7-15                                                 9-13                                                (-2)

Ed Orgeron*                                15-6                                                18-8                                                (-3)

Jerry Stovall                                 10-11-1                                                        15-9                                                (-5)

Total                                                161-71-6                                       137-94-4                                           24

*Orgeron succeeded Les Miles four games into 2016 season.

SKENES & CREWS READY FOR MLB

LSU boasted a first with the top two players selected in the 2023 MLB Draft in Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews. Both are likely to be major league stars by the end of this season.

Skenes and Crews have the chance to be the best Tigers of all-time in the big show and might be the first Baseball Hall of Famers from the Tigers.

Here is a look at how the Skenes-Crews tandem compares with the best pitchers and hitters developed on the Alex Box Stadium diamond.

LSU Wins

  1. Aaron Nola: 30 in 49 starts with seven complete games and four shutouts. Nola lost 6 times in 52 appearances.
  2. Ben McDonald; 29 in 39 starts with 18 complete games and three shutouts. McDonald lost 14 times in 62 appearances.
  3. Paul Skenes: 13 in 19 starts with two complete games and no shutouts. Skenes lost just twice in his 19 appearances as a Tiger.

ERA

  1. Skenes              1.69
  2. Nola                   2.32
  3. McDonald       3.24

Innings, Hits, Walks, Strikeouts

  1. Skenes              122 and two-thirds innings, 72 hits, 20 walks, 209 strikeouts.
  2. Nola                   342 innings, 240 hits, 52 walks, 344 strikeouts.
  3. McDonald        308 and two-thirds innings, 263 hits, 71 walks, 373 strikeouts.

LSU Homers

  1. Albert Belle: 49 homes in 585 at bats with 30 doubles, 11 triples and 38 steals.
  2. Dylan Crews: 40 homes in 507 at bats with 27 doubles, 6 triples and 11 steals.
  3. Alex Bregman: 21 homes in 786 at bats with 56 doubles, 10 triples and 66 steals.

Batting Average and Slugging Percentage

  1. Dylan Crews: 389 average and .702 slugging percentage with 113 bases on balls.
  2. Albert Belle: .332 average and .609 slugging percentage with 109 bases on balls.
  3. Alex Bregman: .337 average and .514 slugging percentage with 87 bases on balls.

RBI and Runs

  1. Albert Belle: 329…172 RBI and 157 runs.
  2. Dylan Crews 317…142 RBI and 172 runs.
  3. Alex Bregman 301…148 RBI and 153 runs.

LSU Should Weigh Options on Arena

For those who think the PMAC has worn out its welcome after 53 years, there is a reminder that many iconic facilities such as UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium have been around longer and have smaller capacities. The facilities in Los Angeles and Durham have been home to 16 national title teams.

If LSU wants to preserve tradition, a renovation of the Parker Coliseum on Highland Road is a viable option. The building has great legs with the bleachers and court still present along with the antique floors in the locker rooms.

This is the house where Bob Pettit and Pete Maravich put LSU basketball in the spotlight and where men’s basketball played from 1937-71.

There is a path to retain history and also place its focus on construction of a new main library. LSU possesses a beautiful campus with a deplorable library that leaks and creaks from every crevice.

UCLA and Duke have 12 and six million volumes in their libraries. LSU has four million. The Tiger hierarchy would be wise to emphasize catching UCLA and Duke at reading books as much as in dunking basketballs.

author avatar
Jim Engster | President, Tiger Rag

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