And so it begins.
A new era of LSU Basketball.
Pardon me if I also have to add "again."
But let me also say, with all due respect to those who have held this job in the past, something feels different this time around.
A foundation is going to be built here this time in this place by a Coach who has every intention of staying here as long as he possibly can and if that staying as long as he possibly can means until he's ready to gets out of coaching that will be just fine with LSU basketball fans.
The Johnny Jones Era begins tonight and this will be the last time I promise that I will break out a phrase well know if you were old enough to live in the era prior to 1993 - "Here's Johnny!"
He's always wanted the job, but now in 2012-13 the timing is right. He not only has played at LSU, he's been on the LSU bench as an assistant for some 400 games. Jones has, more importantly, experienced the highs and lows, ups and down of a Division I head coach - one year at Memphis and the last 11 years at North Texas. He turned North Texas into a prime contender for not only the Sun Belt Conference title, but post-season play was now something that was a yearly possibility for his team.
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Plus he created an up tempo style that he has brought to LSU, a style that he enjoys coaching, the players will enjoy playing and more than anything, I think our fans are going to enjoy as well.
Up tempo? That sounds like music to my ears. It's a coaching belief of Jones and I think it will quickly become a favorite of our fans.
So the ball goes up tonight for the first time against UC Santa Barbara, a team that went to post-season play last year. It will be a test for the Tigers right off the bat, especially for an LSU team that is still trying to find its way in the new system.
There are going to be times that the term "work in progress" will be used, but there are going to be times when this team will prove to be extremely dangerous. That's what will make this season so interesting.
The season will be a foundation builder for ones that will come in the future. Signing day is less than a week away and the news may be very good. This is a coaching staff that has worked very hard on recruiting the current players to adapt the system, getting new players for this year's team and then spending hours and hours and days and days on the road recruiting the players that will be stars of the future.
This will also be a season of historic change in Southeastern Conference basketball as Missouri and Texas A&M join the league. The 16-game schedule fans have known since the 1992 season is gone after 20 years. But Coach Jones has played and coached the 18-game league season while at LSU, so he knows how long and strange that league season can be. The new schedule will feature one game against each of the 13 schools, a second game against a permanent opponent (in LSU's case A&M) and home and homes against four other schools.
Don't try to figure it out just check the schedule each year.
So here we go. The PMAC is ready for basketball again. The PMAC is ready to be the home that LSU fans can make the "Deaf Dome" again. I can't wait. Welcome back, everyone. Enjoy the game!