Will Wade knows LSU lost a big opportunity last week. An opportunity to take a big step forward as a team, a chance to create a little more breathing room with its difficult start to SEC play.
Instead the team took a step backwards in the performances against Florida and certainly in the 65-58 loss to Arkansas on Saturday. Now, the Tigers face two desperate teams on the road, teams Wade knows are going to give LSU its best, starting with Alabama on Wednesday.
The Crimson Tide ride a three game losing streak of their own heading into the 6 p.m. contest with the Tigers and feature a potentially explosive offense led by two of the highest scorers in the conference in Jaden Shackelford and Jahvon Quinerly.
"They're gonna play as well as they've played all year, I have no doubt about that," Wade said. "It's why you'd like to have a little bit of runway going into the game by beating Arkansas. That would've been the prudent thing to do.
"Alabama's offense is very potent. They're built, we're gonna have to sit down and guard, stay in front of the ball so it'll be a challenge for the defense."
Defensive rebounding and turnovers are the two primary points of emphasis for Wade now that he's got the attention of his team after a setback against Arkansas over the weekend. It's not to say that the players haven't been paying attention but because of all the winning LSU has done this season, Wade says it's harder to convey a message to a team coming off a win than a loss.
LSU is averaging 16 turnovers a game in conference play, a number Wade is working hard with the team to get into the 10-12 range moving forward. Meanwhile the Arkansas game was just the latest example of a team who out rebounded the purple and gold with 13 offensive rebounds, something Wade equates to a lack of physicality.
But after a game where LSU's offensive flow was non existent down the stretch and a poor rebounding performance allowed the Razorbacks to claw back into the game, it's not as simple as turning the page to the next opponent.
"When you play like that, you can't just turn the page," Wade said. "It doesn't work."
"The turnovers are the simplest to get fixed, that's the most fixable issue we have. I've spent majority of the time trying to fix the turnovers, that's where the majority of the time has gone. We've scored 60 points a game in SEC play, that's not sustainable and our defense can't keep holding like that."
LSU also enters this game with work to do in how the offense is run. Wade said far too often the Tigers put themselves at a disadvantage by playing at one pace and needs to mix it up more in order to have consistent success in the half court.
One example he gave was former forward Trendon Watford, who at times looked like he was playing in slow motion in the post and would know when to pick it up to get a cleaner look. Far too often with this team players are moving so fast, it's easier to get out of position, load one side of the floor and make the team easier to defend.
"You've gotta play with some poise. We don't have very good precision of movement, we just move to move," Wade said. "We guard ourselves, I was telling one of them we just look like a one legged duck swimming in circles. Turnovers are the end result but usually it happens because of poor spacing, poor decision making, not setting things up. We make ourselves so easy to guard because we do the same things over and over again."
How does it all get corrected? Drills, fundamentals and more drills are what LSU puts the focus on in practices and it's less about running sprints.
Through all of the negatives the last week has provided the program, the Tigers still sit in a very good spot and Wade is confident LSU can fix some of the issues that have plagued this team recently.
"You put duct tape here and another one springs a leak and you gotta plug that one up," Wade said. "It's a little bit late but we've shown we can be a good defensive rebounding team we just haven't been consistently. I'm most confident in getting the turnovers under control, just being clean with the ball."