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LSU Going Back to Basics With Anticipated Offensive Changes

Will Wade details how Tigers will hope to adjust after recent offensive struggles

LSU is going back to the basics with its offense, at least until it can get healthy and back on the upwards trajectory it was on three weeks ago. There just hasn't been much in the way of hope the last four games that this offense is figuring much out and some of it has to do with not having much time to get in the gym and work on the issues.   

It's confident to say that with enough sample size of the season, LSU is simply not a very good jump shooting team, particularly on the perimeter where the Tigers are shooting just 32%, which is middle of the pack in the SEC. This team is so much better at playing down hill and orchestrating its offense at the rim and in transition.

One of the areas Xavier Pinson is so good at and something you can see changed when he went out is the pace he plays with on offense. It never seems like he's out of control offensively, usually getting to the rim and finding an open cutter or spot up shooter. 

Those are the kinds of shots Wade wants his team converting and they've been hard to come by with the tough looks that have been generated by the offense in recent games. The 50 points against Tennessee were the lowest of the Wade era and most of the ones that fell were tough shots.

"We need to take shots that play to our strengths and there are two or three areas we need to hone in on the offensive stuff," Wade said. "We're asking guys to do some things on offense they're not capable of, it's a challenge. We changed some things this week. We're built as a team that has a combination of athleticism and skill and our skill is pretty much gone and that's why we look the way we do on offense."

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The second component to its offensive success is of course creating opportunities off its defense. Again when fully healthy this team is a well oiled machine in converting opponents' mistakes into points on the other end. 

LSU is so aggressive and fly around so much on defense that it's been hard without Pinson in the lineup to play with more control on the offensive end. There's a balance that this team was playing with when Pinson was healthy where the offense wouldn't be so chaotic while its defense was forcing turnovers.

So much of LSU's offense is predicated on its defense and getting out in transition. But recently the Tigers have been forcing turnovers but then giving the ball back in transition an average of 4.5 times per game according to Wade. The 16.4 turnovers LSU is averaging in SEC play alone is among the worst in the conference and with so much of its offensive success coming on forced turnovers of its own, not capitalizing on those forced turnovers is really hurting this team.

"The turnovers are bothersome," Wade said. "The transition turnovers are killers because those are the ones on outnumbered breaks where we should be converting points. Not only are we not getting points, we're turning it over and giving the other team the ball back. Those are the ones that I'm focused on."

Where the offense can go from here is still a mystery. Certainly LSU can't shoot much worse from the outside than 9-of-38 combined in two of the last three contests. The focus needs to continue to be on driving the basketball and converting more on the SEC leading 14.7 turnovers the Tigers are forcing.

"Transitioning from helter skelter on defense to having some poise on offense," Wade said. "We don't play with the poise that we need to, the pace or precision we need to. You don't have to do that stuff defensively, you just fly around and good things happen. You've gotta be able to transition from that to playing with some poise."