LSU Coach Defends Decision On Opting Out Of Post Season Play
There is a rather odd paradigm that occurs between the worlds of college football and college basketball. In college football every team wants the chance to pay in a post season bowl game. Many choose to play in contests that actually cost their school and their athletic programs a lot of money. College basketball appears to have a little bit of a different mentality.
Take the case of LSU. Let's face it, the Tigers basketball team had a disappointing year. They had a once in a lifetime, for one year only, NBA Lottery pick player and they couldn't seem to figure out how to use him or make him give a darn about the team. While at one time the Tigers were on top of the SEC standings they faded badly toward the end of the season and were eventually embarrassed by Texas A&M in the SEC tournament.
Still LSU had the chance to play in the second most prestigious post season basketball tournament in the country, the NIT. They declined. That left a lot of fans scratching their heads as to why. LSU Coach Johnny Jones explained his reasoning in a story published by the Louisiana Radio Network.
You never really want your season to end, and with these guys, I've got to always make sure I'm doing what's in the best interest of our players at the end of the day for them as we always move forward, and sometimes that's not a popular decision.
Jones cited a season ending injury to Keith Hornsby. He also explained that due to an illness Antonio Blakeney would have had a tough go of it as well. Jones suggested that without these two key players it would be very difficult for the Tigers to put what he describes as a competitive team on the floor.
Another issue that has been garnering a lot of media attention is that "once in a lifetime" player Ben Simmons. By all indications Simmons won't be with the Tiger program next year. He is expected to be one of the NBA's top picks in their upcoming draft.
There hasn't been an anouncement on Ben in terms of what his decision will be and when he will make his decision. It's certainly been a joy coaching him, and at the same time, I thought he brought a great deal of excitment to our team and our program.
While the Tiger coaching staff waits on the inevitable from Simmons they will use this time away from post season play to begin building for next year.
Again, trying to prepare and get them ready for next season which we think is very important for us to put ourselves back in that spot. Again, without some of the guys returning, it's going to be really important for us to be at a certain level, and we certainly feel like we've got the guys that are capable of doing that.
Jones suggested that next season's goal would be a birth in the NCAA tournament. He said he and his staff intend to use the time they would have spent preparing for post season play this year to have a better plan for next year.