The No. 7 LSU Tigers women’s basketball team could not have imagined a worse possible start.
The then No. 1 Tigers were upset in dominant fashion by a then No. 20 Colorado team and have been without senior forward Angel Reese for the last two and a half games.
It has not been the start that LSU had hoped for or expected after winning a national title and brining in the top freshman and transfer portal classes.
However, the Tigers seem to be turning the corner from the issues that plagued them in the opener.
In the opener, LSU seemed to lack chemistry and defensive focus as the Tigers gave up 92 points and never quite looked like a team.
Since then, the Tigers have been experimenting with new lineups in an attempt to find a lineup with chemistry.
Last season, LSU stuck with a lineup of Reese and freshman Flau’jae Johnson along with seniors Alexis Morris, Jasmine Carson, and LaDazhia Williams for most of the season.
The Tigers have had five different starting lineups to start the season. LSU initially started with Reese and Johnson being supplemented with transfers Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow along with freshman guard Mikaylah Williams.
That lineup which was playing two wings in Morrow and Reese in the post struggled in the paint against Colorado ‘s size so in the next game against the Queens Royals LSU subbed out Morrow for a post player in sophomore Sa’Myah Smith.
In the next matchup against the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devilettes (weird name, but okay), Johnson was sick, so LSU brought in Last-Tear Poa. Poa, who is a point guard, provided leadership (she played in every game last season) and has been a key component in recovering from losing Morris, which has been a much bigger loss than initially expected.
LSU stuck with that lineup into the Kent State Flashes game where LSU initially struggled. Reese was benched midway through the game.
The Tigers brought in a new lineup for the first road jaunt of the season again the Southeastern Lions keeping Van Lith, Smith, Johnson and Williams, but this time bringing Morrow back in with Reese out.
Offensively, LSU never quite looked to form against the Lions as the Tigers had their lowest point total of the season, so the Tigers brought in lineup number five for Texas Southern replacing Poa with Johnson.
The Tigers lineup seemed to work better in that game as LSU had its best defensive half of the season giving up just 18 points in the first half.
It is unlikely that LSU has found its final starting lineup (presumably Reese will be back at some point), but it is clear that LSU has been working to solve its chemistry issues and seems to be on the right track.
In two of the last three games, LSU has had five different players in double figures (not the case in any of the first three games). The Tigers even put up 70 points in the second half of the matchup versus the Flashes as Williams took control of the game with 42 points.
Williams has been a bright spot for the Tigers leading the way in points this season and despite being a freshman, she is one of two players to start every game.
The Tigers seem have to found chemistry with Morrow, Van Lith, Williams, and Johnson on the court as despite the initial struggles all four of them are averaging double figures in points.
The Tigers have also adjusted defensively with two of their three lowest point totals coming in the last two games.
Since the start of the second half of the game against Southeastern, LSU has held its two opponents to 31.6% from the field and 15.4% from three.
The Tigers have been playing tighter man to man defense and finding their way into the passing lanes. In the last two games, Morrow and Johnson have 19 steals between the two of them as they have feasted on the wings.
The Tigers seem to finally be finding a stride on both ends of the ball, but it has yet to be tested, The Tigers will find better tests in the Cayman Islands in Niagara and Virginia, albeit neither team is expected to contend with the Tigers and Virginia is without its best player in Mir McLean.
The real test of if the Tigers have solved their problems will come next Thursday when Virginia Tech comes to town for a Final Four rematch, but there is more reason to be optimistic about that game now than back on Nov. 6th.