With Charles Manning Back in the Fold, No. 25 LSU Hoping Move Will Fix a Myriad of Issues

Glen West

It’s been no small secret that LSU basketball has missed junior transfer Charles Manning the last month of the season. His eight game absence didn’t exactly hurt in results as the Tigers went 6-2 in that stretch, but a number of issues cropped up as a result of him missing time. 

On Thursday LSU Country reported that Manning would be returning to the rotation Saturday against Alabama and with it, a minutes restriction. LSU coach Will Wade went into further detail at his press conference on how much LSU expects Manning to play against the Crimson Tide.

“I think 10 to 12 minutes would be realistic,” Wade said. "We've got to see how he reacts in the next couple of days and how he is mentally. We're not just going to force him out there. It may seem insignificant but that's 12 minutes that we can rest some other guys so hopefully we can be a little bit fresher down the stretch."

Manning’s return couldn’t come at a better time for LSU as the bench production has taken a huge hit the last three games. LSU has scored just seven total points in those three games.

With his return, Wade said not only should the scoring go up but a number of other areas will improve as well. Wade sees defensive rotations, controlling player's minutes and reducing foul trouble as three ways adding Manning back to the mix can help right off the bat.

Wade said even Manning’s 10 to 12 minutes will help spell guards Skylar Mays and Javonte Smart extra rest time, which should help their efficiency and the team's rotations. It allows LSU to rotate Mays, Smart and Manning at the one and two positions, Trendon Watford, Marlon Taylor, Aundre Hyatt and Darius Days to rotate at the three and four positions and Emmitt Williams and Days to rotate at the five spot.

"It just allows us to rotate a little bit more positionally and be a little bit better with what we're doing," Wade said. "They [Smart and Mays] have been very effective, but they're a lot more effective in 32 to 34 minutes as opposed to 36 to 38 minutes."

With the injury to Manning this year, Wade said guys like Watford, Hyatt and Taylor have been "unbelievably unselfish" because they've had to guard out of position. Taylor has been asked to slow down opposing team's guards while Watford has been trying to cover wings out on the perimeter when he's actually best suited as a four.

"We've had some guys that have been unbelievably unselfish, you know, there's lineups where we have Trendon Watford out there at the five. He's a lot more closer to a three than he is a five. He starts at the three because we've got to have some length out there but he's better matchup wise at the four. Asking Marlon to guard point guards off the bounce in our league is tough. He was a heck of a defender for us last year, but he would shut down other teams threes and fours."

Wade expects those defensive rotations to improve with Manning being a key difference maker for LSU. With Manning back, he can guard the other team's one or two guard which allows Taylor to slide over and guard the opponent's best three or four, something he had great success with last season.

"I can tell Marlon go take away their three or their four man, don't let them get the shot off," Wade said. "You do what you do because he can get on those guys, contest a shot and they still can't get by him because he's just quicker than them and more athletic than most. When he's back in that position he can get back to making those two or three plays a game that nobody else on the court can make."

Saturday's road matchup against Alabama will be the first time we'll get to see if these are fixable issues or if they're just something that needs to be expected from here on out. Ingratiating a piece as significant as Manning won't happen over night and the timing isn't ideal, but if LSU can start to correct these problems now, it bodes well for the future.