NIT-picking: A lukewarm extension to LSU's hot-and-cold season

Kevin C. Cox

Getting to play another game is more likely to be an exercise in frustration than a springboard for the program.

LSU basketball is back in the postseason!

That sound you hear is a bunch of crickets.

Yes, the Tigers making the NIT is a small step in the right direction. It's a mild cause for congratulations.

But this year is different. If last season's squad hadn't been snubbed for the National Invitational, it would have been a fantastic cherry on top of Johnny Jones' first season. People would have been excited about it.

Wednesday's game at San Francisco feels more like a chore. "We HAVE to watch this again?" The feeling is largely one of bitterness toward a team that has underachieved all season.

After starting the season with a promising loss at UMass that was marred by foul trouble and Jarell Martin's ankle injury right on through to a promising December, LSU had more to offer this season. As soon as the calendar hit 2014, the Tigers basically became the country's most maddening team. Capable of beating Kentucky but losing to Rhode Island in the same month or a 30-point disparity in games against Texas A&M purely based on venue, the Tigers were a frustrating watch this season.

There was no scrappy underdog feel to this season. Unlike last year, LSU did not roar down the stretch and get better as March approached. Instead, the Tigers shrunk from the moment, repeatedly torpedoing loftier goals by playing recklessly in unintimidating road environments.

So there's no excitement about watching this team travel to the west coast on the eve of the NCAA Tournament to play a team that's pretty good. San Francisco will be excited to host a major-conference team. Word is that Andre Stringer's nicked up, it's doubtful the Tigers will suddenly handle a road gym well and I'm not sure they want to be there.

Hard to blame them, though. An NIT berth is better than nothing. That's as nice as it gets for these Tigers.

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