Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LT is here to stay

Alex Hamilton is a freshman. Raheem Appleby, Kenneth Smith and Michale Kyser are sophomores. Translation: Louisiana Tech isn't dropping back anytime soon and, in fact, looks to only get better in the next few years.

That's because these youngsters will be improving and displaying greater consistency plus more and more recruiting doors, previously closed, will be opening to Coach Mike White and his staff.

Few people remember that the Bulldogs damn near got to the Big Dance in White's initial season at the helm, taking down Utah State (72-70) and then Nevada (78-73) before falling to New Mexico State. Winning close games in the conference tournament with kids? That isn't luck and happenstance.

So how did White and Company do it in Ruston when Kerry Rupp and Keith Richard couldn't? Plus, how did this transformation take place so quickly? That would probably take a dissertation length post but let's focus in on these concepts and decisions:

* Instilling a modern dribble-drive offensive style, alongside a pressing and man defense -- those are elements that recruits find attractive and approaches they can pick up and add value to early on.

* White certainly hasn't nabbed any blue-chip recruits but rightly focused on landing athletic prospects with at least one, if not more, right-away plus skills

* Another key is White's so-called bench players -- let's use the term non-starters instead -- being ready to assume critical roles in picking matters up offensively and defensively when some members of the opening five are not producing. The how of such a development can only come from White and his players but it's a critical component for successful teams.

* Also, how White and his coaching staff instilled a tough-as-nails approach in finishing games is impossible to quantify but Tech has definitely been winning more than its share of close ones since he landed the position, this despite LT's youthfulness.

By the way, LT has made it into Matt Norlander's Mid Major Power Pyramid with this inscription: "WAC's best is still secret to the nation"

The down side to all these achievements is that some SEC team is going to tap White sooner rather than later -- that's just the nature of the system. But it's going to be difficult for anyone else to top the metamorphosis White instigated so quickly at Louisiana Tech.

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