Lady Tigers go through first practice prior to Spanish tour

Four months removed from the program's first NCAA Sweet 16 appearance since 2008, LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell put the new-look Lady Tiger basketball team through the first of eight up-tempo practices prior to an exhibition tour of Spain on Friday at the LSU Basketball Practice Facility.

Three freshmen, going through their first collegiate practice, met with members of the media as did senior leaders Theresa Plaisance and Jeanne Kenney. LSU is gearing up for a tour of Spain beginning August 11 where the Lady Tigers will play four exhibition games in cities from Barcelona to Valencia.

Under NCAA guidelines, teams are allowed to take a foreign trip once every four years and practice no more than 10 times prior to that trip. With momentum already established from last spring's Sweet 16 appearance, the Spain trip gives LSU an advantage of getting experience on the court before the official start of practice in October.

The Lady Tigers went through a two-hour practice on Friday and will meet again through the weekend. LSU will dress nine players for the trip as junior forward Sheila Boykin recovers from Guillain-Barre syndrome she sustained last season. Boykin, however, will join the team at all practices and make the trip overseas.

Kenney has played a pivotal role as a mentor for the three freshmen this summer, going through intense workouts and even boxing programs that will make LSU one of the fittest teams in the country. The three new faces -- Raigyne Moncrief, Jasmine Rhodes and Rina Hill – are extremely quick on the perimeter and are swift learners.

Caldwell and Plaisance are no strangers to international basketball. Both experienced USA Basketball gold medal journeys last month and the two shared their stories with members of the media on Friday while also going through a photo shoot with the gold medals.

Caldwell was an assistant coach on the winning USA U19 team last Sunday at the FIBA World Championships in Lithuania. Plaisance was a starting forward on the World University Games team that won gold in Russia.