Observations from LSU women's basketball's win over Langston in final preseason exhibition
BATON ROUGE — Unlike entering her first season in 2021, general depth is not a point of concern for LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey coming into Year 2.
And the two preseason exhibitions LSU held, culminating with a 121-46 thrashing over Langston Thursday night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, was the final dress rehearsal for Mulkey to gauge how she can fit all the new talent together before the team opens the season hosting Bellarmine Monday night (7 p.m., SEC Network+).
What do the Tigers have outside of senior guard Alexis Morris and sophomore forward Angel Reese?
Fresh faces like Flau'jae Johnson, Last-Tear Poa, LaDazhia Williams, Jasmine Carson and a few more are all good enough to either start or receive ample minutes this season, and after the two exhibitions, the picture looks a little clearer.
"Roles are so important when you have this much depth," Mulkey said after the game. "It's not going to be the top five or six players that are going to win these games for you. It's going to be who did I put in at the right time to get that one blocked shot, to get that one offensive board, to make that one defensive stop for us.
"That's what I'm looking at. I kinda know who our players that have proven themselves."
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Flau'jae Johnson plays older than she is
Thursday was LSU star freshman's birthday, but her age doesn't reflect how mature she plays.
The 5-10 guard's stature and frame provides a chance for the physical transition to college basketball look easy. When she cuts and drives to the basket, there's no timidness, only confidence and strength. She has the ability to play point guard and wing, and through two exhibitions, splitting time should be part of her role.
Johnson dropped a team-high 22 points against Mississippi College last week and 7 against Langston.
Mulkey has mentioned this preseason that Johnson has the qualities to be a leader for this team. It might not happen vocally this year but her play speaks loud enough.
"I enjoyed sitting there tonight because I could sit there by Flau'jae. She made one shot and you could tell the freshman was coming out, that she wanted to force things," Mulkey said. "That's what freshman do. And she understands. It's trying to change a mindset of what she had to do in high school.
"I said, 'don't stop shooting but don't force things.'"
Jasmine Carson will be key piece for LSU Tigers
The West Virginia graduate transfer went 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the first scrimmage and followed it up with a couple more 3s Thursday. Carson had 27 points across both scrimmages with a 53.8 3-point percentage (7-13).
LSU lost nearly all of its perimeter production from last season's 26-win team and where the points from outside were going to come from this season has been one of the biggest questions heading into 2022-23. The answer starts with Carson, who has been lethal.
Mulkey labeled Carson as one of the top pure 3-point shooters she's coached in her career. How Carson can stretch defenses and keep clutter out the paint will be paramount for LSU in its ability to get Reese, the sophomore Maryland transfer, more space inside.
Post depth will develop early
The preseason LaDazhia Williams, who transferred in from Missouri, has had has been critical for the Tigers. She'll need to be efficient and aggressive early on to help free up Reese on the other block.
Behind those two, freshmen Alisha Williams and Sa'Myah Smith along with sophomore Amani Bartlett are green, but with LSU's nonconference schedule that doesn't feature any top matchups, there'll be time for the younger players inside to garner significant playing time to develop before SEC play begins at the end of December.
"We have two freshmen, a sophomore and two older ones. We've got a great combination of experience versus youth. I need to mare sure that youth is in the ballgame with that experience," Mulkey said. "There's so many combinations. You don't compare talent. You figure out your role by my helping you.
"And when you're on the floor, value that opportunity, take advantage of it and help us win."
Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at firstname.lastname@example.org.