Louisiana basketball

Kyle Riviere
Been a difficult year for Louisiana Hoops Fans.

It's a good thing that it's been an amazing year for Louisiana football, because right now, Louisiana basketball stinks.

Heading into the year, there was amble excitement surrounding the LSU men coming off of a regular-season SEC championship and a memorable run to the Sweet 16. There was even fervent anticipation for the Pelicans as they featured top pick Zion Williamson and a new-look roster. 

Both have been big disappointments thus far. Thankfully, we've had LSU's undefeated run to the College Football Playoff and the Saints' third straight division title victory to distract us.

The one positive when it comes to the shortcomings of our state's two biggest basketball teams is that the season is still young for LSU. They still have a chance to turn things around and make a run.

But they better figure something out quickly. SEC play is right around the corner.

I certainly didn't expect them to be 7-4 after 11 games. Looking at the schedule before the season, I thought they had a great chance to be 9-2 or 10-1 at this point.

There is no shame in losing on the road against a good VCU team. That's a game I expected them to lose, especially so early in the season.

But then they blew a 19-point second-half lead against Utah State at a neutral site. And just recently, they were dismantled at home by East Tennessee State.

The final score was 74-63, but it really wasn't that close. LSU trailed for virtually the entire game, and at one point, they were down by as many as 22.

Yes, East Tennessee State is a good team that will probably make the tournament, but as talented as LSU is, there is no way they should be losing to them at home--and surely not by double-digits.

After the loss, head coach Will Wade said, "We got some of these new guys that are here that think it's their God-given right that things will go well. And some of these old guys are living off of last year a little bit."

LSU went on to lose a close game to USC over the weekend.

Turnovers have been the bugaboo for LSU so far this season. In their first three losses, they had at least 15 of them. In fact, against VCU, they had a ridiculous 26 turnovers.

Lack of rebounding certainly doesn't help. They were at a 40-29 disadvantage on the boards against East Tennessee State.

We're also seeing just how valuable Tremonte Waters, Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams really were.

Waters was such a great facilitator at point guard. Without him, turnovers have increased significantly. And without Reid and Bigby-Williams, the Tigers have struggled on the boards.

The Pelicans have just struggled everywhere.

Prior to the season, we were expecting this to be an exciting team that may not make the playoffs, but we hoped they would be competitive and finish with a winning record, or at least close to .500.

Even when Zion went down with a knee injury and was expected to miss six weeks, I for one thought that the rest of the team was good enough to win some games here and there until he got back.

If you asked me what their record would be after 29 games, I would have probably said something along the lines of 13-16. I was dead wrong.

They have the second-worst record in the Western Conference at just 7-22.

In fact, before beating the Timberwolves last week, they had suffered through a 13-game losing streak. One of those losses was an embarrassing 46-point defeat against the Mavericks.

Offensively, the Pelicans have actually been pretty good. They rank 10th in the league in scoring at 112 points per game.

However, their defense has been downright horrendous. They're giving up 118 points per contest, which is second-worst in the league. The only team giving up more is the Wizards at 121 per clip.

That was unexpected with a backcourt of Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball and Derrick Favors down low. All three players are known for being very good defenders.

All we can hope for now is that they'll get a spark once Zion returns from injury and makes his debut. No, they won't sniff the playoffs, but maybe they'll no longer be an embarrassment.