LSU Preparing for Strong Guard Play from WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

LSU Preparing for Strong Guard Play from WVU

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Baton Rouge, La. -

Caldwell took the podium Monday morning to speak with the media ahead of her team's second round NCAA Tournament appearance on Tuesday night.

She spoke highly of LSU and her hopes that the No. 7 Lady Tigers can take advantage of a home court setting and pull the upset of No. 2 West Virginia.

This is Nikki Caldwell, of course, head coach of said LSU Lady Tigers. Not to be confused with WVU guard Christal Caldwell, though she wouldn't mind if someone mistakenly identified the two as family.

"I'm wondering if she's related to me," Coach Caldwell said. "I've got to find out because her skills are very good and mine were okay back in the day, too. I'm going to claim her."

After the guard's performance in a first round victory over Albany, you could understand the desire to refer to her as "Cousin Christal" at family reunions. WVU's Caldwell scored a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and helped the Mountaineers pull away after the Great Danes made a run in the second half.

"I think she's an exceptional midrange player," said LSU's Caldwell. "Her ability to play off the bounce and she's a great athlete."

The Lady Tigers have more on their hands than preparing for West Virginia's third-leading scorer when the two face off on Tuesday evening from the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Bria Holmes, for one, comes to mind with her team-best 15.3 points per game.

The sophomore guard has been a star for the Mountaineers this season and despite shooting just 1-of-12 from 3-point range on Sunday, she put up 20 points on the way to the win.

"Holmes with the spot up three, although she didn't make a lot of threes … She had some great looks. You can't run the risk of well, will she be off again against us?" said Caldwell. "We just want to make sure that we're aware of where she is at all times."

West Virginia has been able to use its depth throughout the season to overcome poor shooting nights or foul trouble or just to give the starters a breather. LSU's DeShawn Harden, who had 17 points in 28 minutes against Georgia Tech, says that her team has just as much depth and should not be concerned about a Mountaineer squad that comfortably rotates 10 players on to the court.

Still, the idea of facing a combination like that of Holmes and Caldwell, who can heat up quickly, has the LSU head coach's attention.

"That's a tough combination to defend," Caldwell said of WVU's guards. "You've got two kids who are very good in the open court their ability to score the basketball multiple ways.

"You go as your guard play goes and West Virginia, they have two very explosive guards in those two."

On the inside, All-Big 12 center Asya Bussie has a tough task. She will go up against another strong post presence with 6-foot-5 senior Theresa Plaisance. The LSU center leads her team with 15.8 points and nearly eight boards per game.

Bussie will need to keep herself out of the foul trouble that earned freshman center Lanay Montgomery her most minutes since December. Plaisance understands that while WVU has star power in the backcourt, the battle down low could be what determines which team advances to the Sweet Sixteen.

"They're obviously led by Bussie," said Plaisance. "She does a great job controlling the tempo for them. They go as she goes, so we just need to have a great defensive effort against this team and especially her if we have any shot of pulling this win out."

Much has been made of the fact that despite having a lower seed, the Lady Tigers have the benefit of hosting the Mountaineers. Senior guard Jeanne Kenney does not believe the home crowd will make much of a difference against a team like West Virginia's, which has found equal success on the road this season.

"When it comes to NCAA, everyone's going to play their best, whether you have the experience or not. You're just going to go out and play," said Kenney. "West Virginia is a very good team and they're going to challenge us, but we're always up for that challenge." 

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