BATON ROUGE – LSU women’s basketball head coach Nikki Caldwell joined men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones on Tuesday as the two previewed their upcoming seasons at the L’Auberge Baton Rouge Tipoff Luncheon.
Caldwell, who enters her third year at the helm, leads a squad that returns three starters from its 2013 Sweet 16 team, including the Southeastern Conference’s leading returning scorer in Theresa Plaisance. Plaisance was named a National Player of the Year candidate on Tuesday as a member of the Wade Trophy watch list.
“Our team is going to be quicker, faster and more up-tempo,” said Caldwell. “We have more players that can handle the basketball. As we got back at it in the summer, we knew our goal was to be playing in April. Championships are won in the offseason. If this offseason is any indication, we are excited about the fact that we have tremendous players and competitors coming back.”
On-demand video of Caldwell’s season preview is available now in the Geaux Zone at LSUsports.net. Fans can see Caldwell and the 2013-14 Lady Tigers at “Bayou Madness” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Maravich Center. The “Road to Tipoff” free event will feature introductions of both teams, a three-point contest, a dunk contest and a special surprise performance.
Part of LSU’s rigorous offseason program included training with Marines. The Lady Tigers lifted everything from ammunition cans to running obstacle courses through the heat. Caldwell spoke passionately about how the training program improved team chemistry and was a rewarding experience for each player.
“It was one of the best experiences I have ever been affiliated with as a player or coach,” said Caldwell. “There were a lot of collaborations between the two programs and they were able to bring that out in our team. They put us in positions we weren’t comfortable in and it forced us to stay together as a team. Our team became closer because of it. Through that adversity we became better as teammates and people.”
Caldwell highlighted the outstanding leadership of the three seniors this offseason and during the team’s Spain exhibition trip in August. Plaisance, center Shanece McKinney and guard Jeanne Kenney have a combined 250 games of experience during their careers.
“Shanece McKinney has established herself as one of the best defensive centers in the game,” said Caldwell. “Jeanne Kenney you can’t say enough about her leadership. Theresa is someone who has gotten better every year and is obviously the SEC’s leading scorer.”
Season tickets for the 2013-14 Lady Tiger season go on sale Thursday at 8 a.m. on www.LSUtix.net. LSU hosts two free admission exhibition games beginning with Tennessee Temple on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Maravich Center.