The CHIEF’s Film Room: Memphis @ LSU PREVIEW

Some late nights, when you’re already soundly asleep, the CHIEF is awake into the wee hours of the morning watching hours of college basketball and corresponding with beat writers across the country to bring you the best scouting reports and game predictions on the Memphis Tigers’ opponents.  Consequently, the CHIEF’s FILM ROOM series is born, only at The BarnBurner.

Memphis @ #23 LSU | SEC Network | 6pm CST| KenPom No. 44

Your Memphis Tigers are heading down to Baton Rouge and the Pistol Pete Center to face Will Wade’s young squad.  I reached out to GLEN WEST — Deputy Sports Editor and beat writer for LSU Hoops for The Daily Reveille — for his thoughts on the Tigers v. Tigers matchup.


The Skinny on #23 LSU:

Head Coach Will Wade has already accumulated quite a few talented players for this year, including several top 50 players. From what you’ve seen in exhibition and early season so far, who will emerge as the star from that class?

With little doubt, LSU’s big recruit this season is Naz Reid out of New Jersey. Reid is well on his way to being a lottery pick in next year’s draft because of his soft touch and playmaking ability on the offensive end. Reid is a prototypical modern big with perimeter scoring as well as bully ball in the paint. Through two games he’s averaging 23 points and 6.5 boards per game.  Will Wade has repeatedly said to the media and fans “enjoy while you can because he won’t be here long.” That’s the kind of talent he is.

Photo: Terrill Weil, 24/7 Sports

Who’s the best LSU player we may know about?

Tremont Waters. Watching Waters in person for over a season now, I can’t name four people I’d rather watch handle the basketball. He’s got that ball on a string and it’s really impressive to watch. Waters came back after a successful freshman season where he led the SEC in steals and led all freshmen in assists. He’s got a knack for poking the ball loose and turning it into points on the other end as he’s already had games of 4 and 6 steals. Waters is a talented scorer who will be off the ball a little more with Baton Rouge natives Skylar Mays and Ja’vonte Smart sharing the point guard duties on the floor with him

Who’s the unsung hero of the squad?

For me it’s definitely Skylar Mays. Mays is a junior guard who is just a glue guy that Wade and the staff absolutely love. Mays, in addition to being a talented player, is a 4.0 pre med student who wants to be a doctor when he graduates. I don’t know many kids that would give up an opportunity to play in the NBA but that’s Skylar’s personality. Just a good dude.

There doesn’t seem to be an abundance of experience in the front court, who is the leader of this group? 

There really hasn’t been a standout yet other than Reid. I’d say freshman Emmitt Williams and junior Kavell Bigby Williams gives LSU the size to compete with anyone on the boards and are both good rim protectors. There’s only been two games but I think those are a few names Memphis will have to put bodies on.

How will LSU dominate the game?

LSU is great out in transition.  In fact, I don’t know if there’s a team I’d rather watch in college basketball on the run. The Tigers have a knack for pushing the ball up the court off of missed shots so transition defense for Memphis will be the key. Offense will not be the problem for LSU.

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LSU guard Tremont Waters

Conversely, how would Memphis steal a win there in Baton Rouge?

Defense for the Tigers has been a roller coaster through two games. Again, it’s only been two games but LSU gave up a record tying 19 threes at the PMAC by an opponent in the win over UNC Greensboro.  If Memphis can get open looks, which hasn’t been a problem for the previous teams LSU has faced, they’ll have a shot. I do expect the Tigers to focus a little more on that end of the floor as Wade is extremely detail oriented.

Are LSU fans fired up about basketball with a top 10 football team on campus?

I’d say so. It’s been a bit more bleak since the loss to Alabama but it’s ‘Bama. Fans have been looking forward to this basketball season for a while now. Will Wade has kind of become the man on campus behind Coach O of course. What Wade has done with the program in just over a year is staggering and I think people are starting to take notice. Both games have been nearly sold out in the lower bowls with plenty of people in the upper levels as well. I don’t expect anything different come Tuesday against Memphis.

Does Coach O go to basketball games? I need a shot of him in the stands painted up getting hype with the student section a la Bruce Pearl.

You know I haven’t seen him. During the season I think it’s obviously tough to make it to a game when you’re preparing for football but after the season I don’t see why he couldn’t. Coach O is extremely devoted to the LSU programs and family so it’s entirely possible we could catch him at one or two games down the line.


So You’re Saying There’s a Chance:

Though admittedly pulling from an incredibly small sample size (read: one game), the Tigers of Memphis enter this game 1-0.  There’s no doubt that this game against a ranked opponent in a hostile road environment will be an early test for this (mostly) young Tigers team — a chance to truly assess their abilities a mere week into the season.

In many ways, this LSU team is similar to Memphis, albeit one year ahead.  In Will Wade’s first year, he coached his team to a modest 18-15 (8-10 SEC) using the limited resources he had, all while tantalizing the fans with his efforts on the recruiting trail — putting together the No. 4 overall class with 5-stars Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams.  Now in his second year, those top-shelf recruits are finally on campus and are already making an immediate impact.  Penny is looking to emulate if not surpass Wade’s success — hold water in year 1 while assembling a promising class for year 2.

I can already tell you Naz Reid is going to be a huge pain in the ass for Memphis.  He is a triple threat player and can even knock down the deep ball.  Watch him get 29 in a multitude of ways:

However, and I say this whilst furiously knocking on whatever wood is nearby, it’s time for a breakout game from some or all of the freshmen.  Tyler Harris, Alex Lomax, David Wingett, and Antwann Jones combined for an atrocious 5-24 against Tennessee Tech.  Though ALo had a decent game in other statistical ways, the other frosh had the same look in their eyes that I did when I first asked a girl to dance with me in 4th grade (her name was Ellen).  Once they shake off the freshman freakout and start hooping with the big boys, this team can start to scratch the tips of their fingers on the ceiling for how good they can be.

Team Stats:

Points Per Game

Rebounds Per Game

Assists Per Game

Points Allowed

76

35

13

61

King Hooper:

Kyvon Davenport

Points

Boards

Steals

2FG%

3FG%

30

10

2

75%

40%

Image result for memphis tennessee tech

Keys to the Game and Random Observations:

  • MAKE OPEN SHOTS — Yes, yes, this is a Josh Pastner-ism, but it isn’t any less true.  Memphis is shooting 25% from deep (6-24).  That simply ain’t it, especially from a team that intends to score predominantly on 3s and layups.  Given that LSU’s defense has allowed so many open shots from distance (LSU’s opponents are shooting a red hot 46% on 56 attempts), Memphis must capitalize on these open looks and knock them down.  If, however, Memphis throws up a similar amount of bricks, LSU will be off and running in transition, which will spell disaster for Memphis.
  • SHARE THE ROCK — Memphis tallied a meager 13 team assists in the game against TTU.  The Tigers will need to share the ball more and knock down open shots in order to have any success against LSU and other teams throughout this season.  This number needs to hover in the 20s if Memphis intends to win many games.  Of course, the assist numbers will rise if Memphis can just hit a dang shot.
  • FIRST 48 — Look for Tyler Harris to get going offensively after shooting a horrid 0-6 from the field in his first real college game.  The airballs lead me to believe his excitement got the better of him.  Because he’s famously known as a gamer, I could see a road game against a ranked team with big-time (and likely NBA lottery bound) recruits bringing out the best in First 48.
  • BOOGIE PARKS — Mike Parks has been sidelined with “back pain,” but Penny has alluded to Boogie returning to the lineup for LSU.  His rebounding and defensive presence will be welcomed to a team lacking in the front-court, especially against an LSU team with a 6-10, 240-pound star freshman lurking in the paint.  Boogie will need to rebound and keep Naz Reid off the offensive glass (easier typed than done) if Memphis is to have a chance.
  • PICK POCKETS — Memphis is a pressing team and seeks to create chaos for all 94 feet.  If Memphis can slow LSU down in transition and cause them to make ill-advised passes and play a half court offense, they may have a chance.  Memphis totaled 13 steals in their first game.  Look for that number to increase this game.  Although:

  • FRESH LEGS — Both Tigers teams deploy 9-10 players and play them all significant minutes, so any advantage Memphis normally has by throwing athletes with fresh legs out there may be mitigated by LSU doing the same thing.
  • LOMAX v. WATERS — LSU guard Tremonte Waters is averaging 15-6 through two games.  Look for ALo — Memphis’ defensive bulldog — to check Waters throughout the game.  The two guards both stand at 5-11.  This will be ALo’s first true defensive test this season.

Follow me @TheBarnChief and for other MEMPHIS content, check out the rest of The BarnBurner HERE.  #GoTigersGo

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