In Focus: Beyond the Sweet 16
Kenney, Plaisance Seek 2014 Final Four Bid
Senior guard Jeanne Kenney and senior forward Theresa Plaisance plan to use their chemistry, leadership and long-time friendship to help take the LSU women’s basketball team to the NCAA Final Four for the first time since 2008.
The duo’s chemistry, sense of urgency as seniors and complementary leadership styles are what can take the team further than last year’s magical run to the Sweet 16.
Kenney and Plaisance met when they were 10 years old on the New Orleans Dominos AAU Basketball Team. A decade later they are still playing together.
When they were 12 years old at a Nike basketball camp in Raleigh, N.C., the two made a pact to go to the same college. Neither thought about it again – until they both became Lady Tigers in 2010.
The way they lead is complementary to one another. One leads physically, and the other leads vocally.
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Kenney is the vocal leader. Her voice can usually be heard the clearest in the Maravich Center during games. She brings energy to the team whether it’s through her words, defensive plays or helping hand on offense. Plaisance said Kenney gives the team the spark that it needs.
“We need her on the court all the time,” Plaisance said. “She’s the energy player. She knows what to say at the right time.”
Kenney led the team not only in assists last year, but also in taking charges – a number that doesn’t show up on stat sheets. Kenney said if one of her teammates benefits from her selfless acts, then every one is worth the effort.
“I do a lot of things that aren’t in the books,” Kenney said. “If I can give you the pass so you can go do your thing and score – I’m all for it.”
Last year, Plaisance led the team in points per game, rebounds per game and total blocks and also finished as the Southeastern Conference scoring champion. Plaisance is the physical leader.
“I tend to lead more by example,” Plaisance said. “When I open my mouth it tends to be pretty important.”
The two said their decade of playing together gives them an advantage during games. Kenney said she trusts Plaisance to make passes, catch passes and hit her on backdoor cuts. Plaisance said experience with Kenney’s passes is beneficial.
“Jeanne makes some very hard passes and some very tricky passes,” Plaisance said. “I have the upper hand on that, and I know when they’re coming, where she’s going to go and how to catch her passes. We just feed off of each other really well. We have a good sense of where each other are on the court all the time.”
One half of the duo always can find the other on the court after games as well. The two have become sisters and share the big moments with each other. No matter the outcome, Kenney and Plaisance go to each other after each game.
“Every time we win a game, I always go to Theresa first,” Kenney said. “It’s a rough game, tough game, big game, I always go to Theresa first. She always goes to me first.”
Kenney said if she knows Plaisance is having a bad game, she’ll get the ball to her so she can score and get out of her funk. After playing together for so long, Kenney said the two know and understand each other’s games so well that they know how to get through to each other when it’s necessary.
“If I’m having a bad game, Theresa knows what to say to get me back in my zone,” Kenney said. “I know how to get her out of her funks. I’m glad we went to the same college.”
Although both played on the same AAU team, they didn’t make the decision to attend LSU at the same time. Plaisance committed first, and when Kenney committed, she considered playing with a long-time friend a bonus.
“I thought ‘I know her, we can make things happen’,” Kenney said. “’It’s going be good.’”
They made things happen their junior year when the team defeated Penn State with an electrifying game, and only seven players, in the Maravich Center to head to the Sweet 16.
After last year’s Sweet 16 berth, the team has bigger and better goals in mind. After the first week of workouts, the team decided their goal this year is a trip to the Final Four.
“We know what it takes to get to the Sweet 16,” Plaisance said. “So we just need to take it a step above that. It’s going to take a lot of heart and will to get past that point. This summer we’ve worked hard to get back where we were and then some.”