#14 LSU Women's Basketball Preview

LSU Tigers

Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
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Nikki Caldwell returns to her southern roots in Baton Rouge after three excellent seasons at UCLA building that program back up and challenging Stanford at the top of the Pac-12. She replaces Van Chancellor who stepped down after last season. She brings a dynamic blend of energy, savvy, and a reputation as one of the top recruiters in women’s college basketball in her quest to return LSU to elite status.

2010-11:  19-13, 8-8
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: Nikki Caldwell (0-0 at LSU, 72-26 overall)

Who’s Out:
The loss of the veteran leadership of Katherine Graham and Latear Eason in the backcourt is going to be a huge void to replace for LSU. Eason was the floor general at the point guard spot and was the heart of the team by playing through difficult concussions and always finding a way to help her team succeed.

Who’s In:
Krystal Forthan is a diverse player who can shoot, defend, and just cause overall havoc on both ends of the floor and should play right away. Sheila Boykin was an UCLA commit that Caldwell convinced to come with her to Baton Rouge. She should compete for playing time immediately as well. A foreign player, Anne Petersen, will provide some fun options for LSU out on the wing to open up things in the paint for the likes of LaSondra Barrett.

Who to Watch:
LaSondra Barrett, she is a matchup problem for any team in the country as she can score, defend and be very difficult on the boards. She goes into this season as a projected top three pick in the 2012 WNBA Mock Draft. With the Tennessee-esque approach to defense under Nikki Caldwell, she should only see her draft stock rise.  Barrett should easily be a first team all SEC player and should also go right down to the wire for player of the year honors nationally.

Final Projection:
The culture of winning with defense established by Nikki Caldwell at UCLA was enormous in her success in making the women’s program relevant on a national scale. In the rugged diverse styles of the SEC, it is going to start again on the defensive side of the floor. With the leadership of LaSondra Barrett and Adrienne Webb to ease the transition to a new style of play, the Tigers should make a return trip back to postseason after missing out a year ago. And if they stay healthy, they should be a tough out for anyone come tourney time. The continuity of the coaching staff that Caldwell brought with her from Westwood should be a huge bonus in restoring the LSU program. The non-conference schedule is highlighted by Georgetown and UCLA coming to Baton Rouge to face coach Caldwell in what should be an emotional contest. Ohio State on the road is the steepest challenge for LSU prior to SEC play. Look for 20 plus wins and a steady place in the top 15 or 20 teams all year long.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Adrienne Webb, Junior, Guard, 12.8 PPG
Taylor Turnbow, Senior, Forward, 5.2 PPG
LaSondra Barrett, Senior, Forward, 12.2 PPG
Krystal Forthan, Freshman, DNP last season
Courtney Jones, Senior, Forward, 5.2 PPG

Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#3 LaSondra Barrett

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#5 Krystal Forthan
#34 Sheila Boykin