LSU Coach Will Wade Details Preseason Goals and How They've Been Altered Throughout Season
Not many people outside of LSU's program knew what Will Wade expected from this 2020 team. When Wade sat down with his staff before the season there was one goal in mind that he felt this team could accomplish.
"I just wanted to make the NCAA tournament with this team. If we could just make the NCAA tournament, I thought that would be a very, very good year," Wade said. "Well, then everybody gets a little out of whack when you start off 8-0 and we probably should have started off about 5-3 or 6-2. I told my staff this other day, like guys, our goal at the beginning of the year was just find a way to squeeze this team into the NCAA Tournament. That was our goal."
The goals have changed in recent weeks as LSU has now dropped four of its last five and are hemorrhaging on the defensive end. The ultimate of getting back to the NCAA tournament hasn't changed but a more immediate goal for this team is to figure out a way to earn a double bye in the SEC tournament.
If LSU can be one of the two teams that can earn that double bye come the SEC tournament, it means it won't have to play a game until that Friday of the tournament. With five games to go, the Tigers are tied for second in the conference with Auburn, both teams sitting at 9-4.
"If we get to double bye we're gonna get in the NCAA Tournament. Then you can you can play it out from there," Wade said.
Until LSU can even start thinking about the SEC tournament, it must first get through the next five games relatively unscathed. That all starts with a complete turnaround on the defensive end. In an effort to improve on that end of the floor, Wade said he's spent the last few days simplifying the defensive scheme.
"We can't keep doing 100 different things not very well. Let's just try to do two or three things very, very well," Wade said. "If teams can beat us while we're good at that, then we'll just have to live with that."
Wade said that starts with taking away easy looks from the outside for opposing teams, more specifically, taking away ball side threes. Teams in recent weeks have been able to make one pass for wide open looks. Wade said if the LSU defense can force opponents to even make one extra pass, it allows the Tigers to get back into the rotations that are constructed.
"That's what a good defense does make you pass it and pass it one more time," Wade said. "If we could get that fixed, that would save us probably six points a game, just on that alone. That's not even talking about our on ball defense and our foot angles and all sorts of other stuff that's just in the weeds. "
At the end of the day, Wade believes even a 5-10% improvement on the defensive end of the ball can help his team win more games down the stretch of the season.
The offense is averaging 85 points a game over this last five game nose dive so shaving 6-10 points a night off an opponent's score by making the attainable fixes to the defense could be enough to help snap LSU out of its funk.
"We're working in the margins here so if we could get even two or three more stops a game we'd probably have another two or three wins," Wade said. "I believe we can get 5-10% better so we spent a lot of time over the last few days working on our own defense, our ball screen defense. We don't need dramatic improvement. We just need a little bit of improvement."