Will Wade’s first season as LSU’s basketball coach is in final stretch as the Tigers host Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8 Southeastern Conference) in the regular season finale on Saturday.
LSU (16-13, 7-10) sits on the outside looking in for the NCAA tournament and a win against Mississippi State may help, but in all likelihood, the Tigers need to win the SEC tournament to make the dance.
Saturday’s game will be Senior Day for Aaron Epps, Randy Onwuasor, Duop Reath and Reed Vial. The four have one more chance to win in front of the home crowd where LSU has compiled a 48-19 record over the past four years.
Epps is the only four-year player of the group, both Onwuasor and Reath were transfers and Vial is a walk-on.
Wade said that players have to take the emotion out of the pregame festivities and focus on the game. He added that its not a difficult task when teams have seniors that are as well-liked as Epps, Onwuasor, Reath and Reed.
“It makes a little bit easier to get everybody to play hard for them and honor them by sending them out and playing hard and doing the right thing by them,” Wade said.
Daryl Edwards injury
Junior guard Daryl Edwards suffered a bone bruise, and Wade said the team will make the call on if he can play Friday afternoon.
Edwards did not play in Wednesday’s overtime loss against South Carolina. He averages 7 points per game and shoots close to 39 percent from the three-point line on the season.
“We certainly need him,” Wade said. “I think you can see the difference without him against South Carolina, it’s fairly obvious. We need him to be ready to go for us.”
Wade added that if Edwards does play, he will come off the bench and that Onwuasor is starting in his place.
Increased toughness next season
One of the things that Wade said Edwards brings is toughness, and that is something LSU lacks in Wade’s eyes. He said teams can be soft and successful, but they need to be disciplined and intelligent.
“If you’re 2-for-3 in those categories you can be very successful,” Wade said. “1-for-3 you can be moderately successful. 0-for-3 not very good, and we are 0-fer most nights.”
Wade sees the fix by recruiting players that possess some of those three qualities and coaching up their deficiencies.
Another fix for Wade and the Tigers is Oregon-transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams. The 6-foot-11, 230-pound center will be eligible to play next season and is a dominant presence in the low post on defense.
“If we had him this year we’d have another four or five wins,” Wade said.
“We don’t have anybody like that, that can [protect the rim and be physical in the low post] right now.”
Along with the addition of Bigby-Williams and the No. 4 recruiting class, Wade says LSU looks to add another junior college player who brings “toughness.”