No. 1 LSU Lady Tigers tip-off season tonight against No. 20 Colorado
LAS VEGAS (WVUE) - LAS VEGAS – No. 1 LSU is set to open its season Monday night against No. 20 Colorado at the Hall of Fame Series Las Vegas in T-Mobile Arena on TNT.
After an offseason like no other, LSU is back for another season. The Tigers will return to the floor for the first time since April 2 in Dallas when they won the national championship. Multiple stars from that team return along with a talented group of newcomers. Kim Mulkey is entering her third season back home in Louisiana and has another squad that will contend as one of the nation’s premier teams.
“They do know that when you are preseason ranked No. 1,” Coach Mulkey said, “they do know that when you are defending national champions, that comes with a lot of expectations, and it comes with a target on you.”
In addition to the TNT broadcast the game can also be streamed on HBO Max. Angel Gray, Candace Parker, and Taylor Rooks will be on the call of the national broadcast. The LSU Sports Radio Network, which has expanded its women’s basketball coverage this season, will broadcast the game with Patrick Wright, entering his 34th season calling LSU Women’s Basketball, and Shaeeta Williams. During last year’s NCAA Tournament, Wright went over 1,000 women’s basketball games called for the Tigers.
Right out of the gate, the Tigers will be challenged by a CU squad that returns the majority of its roster from a Sweet 16 run last season. The Tigers and Buffs share that the last team both squads faced was Iowa. The Hawkeyes knocked out the Buffs by 10 points in the Sweet 16 before advancing all the way to the championship. In the championship, LSU scored an NCAA championship game record 102 points to claim the trophy.
Colorado is ranked inside the Preseason AP Top 25 for the first time since 2013, but it spent eight weeks ranked throughout the course of last season. The Buffs return 88 percent of their scoring from last season, boasting eight players back from last season’s Sweet 16 appearance. Of those returners four of them slot into the starting lineup with Jaylyn Sherrod, Quay Miller, Frida Formann, and Aaronette Vonleh all back. Sherrod and Miller were both Preseason All-Conference while Formann and Vonleh picked up honorable mentions. The Buffs also had a couple of key transfers come in with Aaronette Vonleh from Arizona and Maddie Nolan from Michigan, who LSU faced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Baton Rouge.
“The first thing I notice (about Colorado) is upper-classmen, seniors, graduates,” Coach Mulkey said. “Seven of their eight top players return. Sweet 16 team, they only lost to Iowa by 10. So that tells you before you even look at the film, they’re going to be very poised.”
The Preseason SEC Player of the Year Angel Reese is back for her second year at LSU. She set the basketball world on fire last season, both on and off the court, and led LSU to the championship, setting the NCAA record with 34 double-doubles during the season. The Tigers brought in Aneesah Morrow through the transfer portal who, like Reese, is a double-double machine. She has 53 double-doubles in 66 games throughout her career. Morrow and Reese were the only two players in the country last season to rank inside the top 10 in both scoring and rebounding. LSU’s front court also includes returner Sa’Myah Smith, an SEC All-Freshman player last season, five-star freshman Aalyah Del Rosario and junior Amani Bartlett.
In the backcourt, LSU has depth. The Tigers return last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year Flau’Jae Johnson along with other key returners like Last-Tear Poa and Kateri Poole. Hailey Van Lith transferred to LSU, the largest portal splash of the summer across the nation. Last season she was on the First-Team All-ACC and was an AP All-America honorable mention. She averaged 19.7 points, 3.2 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game last season and was the only player in America other than Iowa’s Caitlin Clark who averaged at least 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. The Tigers also added Mikaylah Williams, the nation’s top recruit, a guard from Bossier City, Louisiana who does not look or play like a freshman. She had 20 points on 8-10 shooting (4-6 3FG) in LSU’s second exhibition game. Other freshman guards like Janae Kent and Angelica Velez could also make an impact in their first season.
“I think Hailey has embraced playing point guard,” Coach Mulkey said. “She came here wanting to learn the point guard position, but make no bones about it, we’re not taking her to the point and all of the sudden lose the points that she’s capable of scoring.
“But I’m also not taking Hailey off the wing either. If Kateri is in the game or Poa is in the game, I can move (Hailey) to the wing. A lot of it depends on foul trouble, it depends on fatigue, it depends on who’s in the game for the opposing team. I’ve got a lot of moving parts that I can move around.”
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