Brady The Chemist

By Jeff Lippman - October 24, 2007

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- For LSU, two years removed from a magical Final Four run and one year removed from finishing 17-15 and missing the postseason altogether, getting back to winning is all about building team chemistry.

"You've got to have team chemistry to play basketball," said junior forward and leading returning scorer Tasmin Mitchell. "You've gotta understand your teammates, you've gotta believe in your teammates and you've gotta be one with your teammates."

Throughout the first semester this year, the Tigers have been being more social as a group. Whether it's going out to eat as a team, going out to see a movie together or just sitting around in someone's apartment goofing on each other, Mitchell and company have grown closer.

"The team chemistry is looking pretty good actually," said junior guard Garrett Temple. "Chemistry is going to play a big role for us and I actually think that we are getting that almost like we did two years ago. Not just because of stuff we do on the court, but what we do off the court. Go out to the movies, hanging out with each other, going out to parties and stuff, that all goes into team chemistry and it's looking pretty good right now."

For coach John Brady, only thing is valued higher than chemistry, and that is experience. But Brady knows that in this day and age, the better teams across the nation won't have experience. It's just not in the cards anymore.

"The good teams at our level are always going to be young now," said the coach entering his 11th season with the Tigers. "I don't think you have senior-laden teams anymore. If you do, you've probably recruited wrong. I think rarely will your senior be the best player on your team anymore."

So instead of experience, Brady preaches commitment to his players, something he says was lacking from last year's bunch.

"I think all young players that are highly recruited, their goal is to go to the NBA," Brady said. "The coaches who can get their players to commit to the team, or the team concept, are the teams that are going to have success. In particularly, in winning close games."

Leaving Early

The NBA bug has hit LSU big time over the past few seasons. First Tyrus Thomas left after his freshman year, now Big Baby Davis leaves after his junior campaign, and it leaves the Tigers without a man in the middle who has any experience.

For coach Brady, he certainly doesn't like the cold hard truth that college basketbal is getting younger and younger every year, but he excepts it as an inevitability.

"That's the way college basketball is," Brady says. "I feel like a junior college coach because you've got to recruit every single year. You can't say, 'I've had this recruiting class of four really good players and I'm gonna coach them for four years.' Those days are gone.

"If you have a good recruiting class, you expect two of those guys to be gone after three years, most of them after two years. It's the nature of the game. I guess it is because I am older now, I can't control those things, I can only deal with them the best I know how."

Garrett Temple has been close friends with Tyrus Thomas since they were grade-school buddies growing up in Baton Rouge. Of course he misses having his friend with him at LSU, but he understands that the decision he made was in his best interests.

"Leaving early, it's not something that teammates want to see their other teammates do but it is something that happens," Temple said. "If you keep somebody for at least two years, I think you are doing something good."

Temple offers this advice to his coach: "Maybe we should recruit players that are real good, but not good enough to leave until after their second or third year."

While that probably won't happen, Temple does recognize the benefits that staying in college has to offer and will be willing to explain those benefits to any underclassmen who wants to listen.

"I just love the college life," Temple explains. "I've talked to Tyrus and he was saying it [the NBA] is not what it's cracked up to be. Glen Davis said the same thing. So having this college life, a lot of people say this is the best year's of your life so I am glad I am able to stay here and build lifelong friendships, but also learn stuff on the basketball court that people may already expect you to know when you get to the NBA."

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 04:51 PM on October 24, 2007

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