For the second year in a row, Louisiana is spending the month of January in disbelief at how the Saints exited the NFL Playoffs. However, we immediately rebounded in 2018. Starting on the day the Saints lost to Vikings in the Divisional Round, the New Orleans Pelicans went 27-14 to finish the season, culminating in a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Following the Saints’ heartbreaking loss* to the Rams* in this year’s NFC Championship Game******* there was no Pelicans happiness to look forward to. Things were already bleak enough at 22-28 before an early-morning #WojBomb caused Lakers and Celtics Twitter to erupt in celebration.
ESPN story on agent Rich Paul informing New Orleans that All-NBA star Anthony Davis won't sign an extension and wants a trade. https://t.co/7e7FCVKHAy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 28, 2019
As if it couldn’t get any worse, this is one of those years where Mardi Gras isn’t until March.
Truly, what in this world can make Louisiana sports fans happy??
Lucky for you, I have just the answer:
Some LSU BASKETBALL!
Squad ✊ pic.twitter.com/XZIv6O1QPA— LSU Baseball (@LSUbaseball) January 25, 2019
NO NO NO I said “BASKETBALL.” You know the same thing the Pelicans do? With the orange dribbly balls? Yes, they play that sport. Don’t worry, you’ll get your baseball soon enough.
The LSU basketball team is currently ranked No. 19 in the country, and is one of two undefeated teams in the SEC. They’re not just winning, they’re doing it in a way that’s fun as hell. Let’s meet some of the important guys to know.
Head Coach Will Wade:
In just his second year in Baton Rouge, Trill Wade has already made himself known as one of the fieriest, most intense coaches on campus. When LSU hired Wade, they held his introductory press conference in the Student Union on a damn Wednesday afternoon so he could boast to all the students how good this team was going to be.
Nice turnout for new #LSU coach Will Wade. Great background w guys like Amaker/Smart, & funny.— Jerit Roser (@JeritRoser) March 22, 2017
Welcome to the #LouisianaVsAllYall life, man. pic.twitter.com/L4KFfXSCaE
Wade often has a Saban-esque approach to his team, offering plenty of criticisms after a game LSU might win by double digits. But when things are good, he can be about as different from Saban as possible.
#LSU Basketball Coach Will Wade was on after upsetting #18 Ole Miss.— Josh Lemoine (@LsuFBallTruth) January 16, 2019
PG Tremont Waters:
The sophomore point guard is, without question, the star of the team. Despite being only 5’ 10” he can weave in and out of defenses, has excellent court vision and can drain a shot from anywhere.
It’s really unfair to compare any basketball player on the planet to Steph Curry, but Waters’ game is so similar, and like Curry, he has the green light to shoot at all times. When he’s on his game, he is transcendent to watch.
F Naz Reid
The most prized piece of LSU’s fourth-ranked recruiting class, Naz Reid is a 2K Create-a-Player come to life. At 6’10” and 250 pounds, he’s exactly the dominant post player you’d expect. What you don’t expect is that he has the second-best three-point percentage on the team.
G Skylar Mays
Mays is a former three-star who is the lone player remaining from the disastrously inept 2016-17 LSU basketball squad. Watching him have such a great year on a great team has to warm the heart of anybody who remembers the days of Johnny Jones. Mays is not just playing because of leadership, he actually is balling out there.
We’ll talk about the Missouri game in a minute, where Mays showed leadership and poise that essentially willed the team to a road victory.
F Emmitt Williams
He’s tall and strong and blocks shots, whatever but LOOK AT THOSE SHORTS! LOOK AT ‘EM!
Emmitt Williams' shorts tonight could probably fit Tremont Waters. #LSU pic.twitter.com/DvMaPwGwPv— Tyler Nunez (@ByTylerNunez) December 22, 2018
Yes, he wears them like that every game. For more info on why he wears them so short, check out this Reveille story that I’m definitely not shamelessly plugging. Nope, not at all.
G Marlon Taylor
Marlon Taylor does something like this every game. I’m not exaggerating. Every game.
Marlon Taylor has HOPS! He was just floating in the air before catching this oop pic.twitter.com/iXe6pdTXBy— SI College Hoops (@si_ncaabb) January 24, 2019
Forwards Kavell Bigby-Williams and Darius Days along with guard Ja’vonte Smart make up the rest of LSU’s rotation, and all have made critical and/or show-stopping plays so far this season. There’s not a player on this roster who isn’t fun to watch.
Besides the fact that LSU is really damn good this year, there are plenty of reasons to watch this team.
The loss of Wayde Sims
⚡️ The LSU and basketball community comes together to remember Wayde Simshttps://t.co/uZywmlOblT— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) September 28, 2018
It’s a popular trope that college basketball players are only playing so they can get to the NBA, but this LSU team has something to play for. Junior forward Wayde Sims was shot and killed on Sept. 28, and the team was devastated. Each player still has a “WAYDE 44” patch on his jersey, and they’ve spoken about how much it means to win for him.
We love you, Wayde #Forever44 pic.twitter.com/mjmXz2AhDz— LSU Basketball (@LSUBasketball) November 7, 2018
The NCAA snipers have been setting their sights on major basketball programs the past few years, and Will Wade couldn’t escape it. Trill Wade seemed unbothered.
Here’s Will Wade’s full answer to Peter Burns when he was asked about the conversation he reportedly had with Christian Dawkins, who is currently on trial for corruption in college basketball.#LSU pic.twitter.com/Q6oRJ7u31l— Brandon Adam (@badam___) October 17, 2018
Let’s be real, there’s a very real chance LSU (and everyone else!!!) is breaking the rules in some way. But if you’re a Pels fan trying to escape to LSU, you probably don’t care about playing fair and by the rules. ESPN and Bill Simmons willed Anthony Davis out of New Orleans, so excuse me for not giving a shit about whatever LSU might be doing to get some insanely talented basketball players to our state.
They’re not that different from the football team
Months before the Saints were robbed of a Super Bowl appearance, and even before McKenna Kelley was robbed of a 9.95 on her floor routine, LSU football was robbed of a win at Texas A&M. The absurd nature of the game led to one of the most absurd offensive outputs in program history with 72 points.
The LSU basketball team came away from Aggieland with a victory Wednesday night, but as Emo Peter Parker from Spider-Man 3 would point out, something about the final score looks very uh...
/rubs black Spider-suit under shirt/
The LSU Basketball team scored the exact same number of points at TAMU as the LSU Football team. pic.twitter.com/YNzUKzDlZt— Evan Saacks (@evansaacks) January 31, 2019
They’re coming off the most absurd win
After a 5-0 start in conference play, a trip to Mizzou last Saturday didn’t look like a huge challenge. However, the home crowd pounced on the visiting tigers after a rocky start. LSU found themselves down double digits for most of the second half, culminating in being down 14 with a little more than two minutes left.
We all accepted that a team primarily made up of freshman and sophomores was going to have a letdown like this on the road, and we should move on and get ready for the next challenge.
Then this happened.
I recommend watching the WatchESPN replay to get the full scope of what happened, because I’ve re-watched it twice and I still don’t understand what happened.
LSU is now 17-3 overall and 7-0 in SEC play. The only other team undefeated in the conference is top-ranked Tennessee, who will visit the PMAC on Feb. 23 (clear your calendars now).
This team is winning and putting on a damn show while they’re at it. I know it’s infuriating what’s happening with the Pelicans, but there is a well-coached basketball team in this state that deserves our support. We don’t have to worry about cap space, trade rumors or playoff seeding. We can just sit back and cheer on the purple and gold.
Not the Lakers. Fuck them.