BATON ROUGE – A large crowd helped the LSU men’s and women’s basketball teams begin the 2013-14 “Road to Tipoff” at the annual Mall Ball celebration at the Mall of Louisiana here Saturday.
The crowd was able to get autographs from the players on both teams, the Tiger Girls, LSU cheerleaders and Mike The Tiger. Both teams took turns on the portable basketball floor set up outside Macy’s taking shots of their own but also letting kids try their own shots at the goal, often with an assist from one of the players.
“I think this event is always great,” said LSU men’s basketball head coach Johnny Jones Saturday. “It gives the student-athletes a chance to interact with their fan base. We want to make sure we reach out and touch those fans that have supported this program for many years and at the same time, we want to create an environment that hopefully will bring more fans in as well. Our students look forward to this event at the mall and being interact with the fans.”
Both teams were busy holding kids up for pictures and some of the height of both teams helped in lifting some youngsters up so they would have an easier time of dropping the ball in the goal, bringing a smile to both kids and players. It was just part of a day of interaction between two teams that really do get along.
“It’s great to see a sport like this with two different teams that interact and have tremendous relationships,” said Jones, entering his second year as head coach after winning 19 games a year ago. “The men’s and women’s basketball teams are extremely close. They really pull for each other and when they come out here (to the mall) you can really see it in the way they interact with their fans, holding them up and playing different games with them so it will be a great experience for our fans.”
The women’s basketball team is expected to play its first home game on Nov. 8, while the men’s basketball schedule has already been announced with its first official home game on Nov. 16 against Northwestern State. Coach Jones knows both teams are ready to get started again.
“It was great being around our fans again,” said senior forward Theresa Plaisance. “We had such an awesome time in Spain, but it’s definitely good to be back home. “Hearing that fight song again gave me chills. There’s nothing like Baton Rouge and we are glad the season is getting closer.”
“We are excited because you can feel that excitement in the air,” Coach Jones said. “The success that both our men’s and women’s basketball teams had last year and then you look at what our women’s team has just done, going 3-1 in Spain, finishing the year in the Sweet 16; and, our men’s basketball team with the way we finished the year. We had a tremendous recruiting year. We had a tremendous summer and we are looking forward to getting things started again.”
Ticket deposits that can be used for either new season tickets or soon to be announced mini-plans are available for $13 for men and $16 for women at LSUtix.net. Follow the two teams on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LSUbasketball and www.Facebook.com/LSUwbkb and on twitter @LSUBasketball and @LSUwbkb.