Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

LSU seniors seek return to Sunshine State

NEW ORLEANS — LSU seniors Sylvia Fowles and Erica White had the benefit of opening the NCAA Tournament on their homecourt in Baton Rouge last weekend, and now the nearby comfort of playing just 80 miles east this weekend at New Orleans Arena.

But they have an extra motivation beyond those two Louisiana advantages: the prospect of finishing their college careers in their native Florida.

"It means a lot, especially for me and Erica," said Fowles, a 6-foot-6 All-America center from Miami. "Having a chance to go back down to Florida, to play in front of our real family, where things started, it'd be great."

White, a point guard from Jacksonville, played in Tampa last season and has played in Gainesville three times, but finishing in Florida would make her fourth Final Four all the more special.

"Being in Tampa would be great, just because our family can experience the Final Four," said White, whose career high of 22 points came against USF in Tampa in January 2007. "That's something we couldn't necessarily do in Indianapolis or Cleveland or Boston."

LSU and Florida State were the only teams in the tournament field with more than one Floridian on the roster. The challenge for the No. 2 seed Tigers is simply getting to Tampa. Before they can think about a potential region final with top seed and second-ranked North Carolina, the first obstacle is today against third seed Oklahoma State, which has a prolific scorer in 5-foot-5 guard Andrea Riley, averaging 23 points.

"You're talking about two of the quickest players in the country, one of the best defensive point guards and one of the best offensive point guards in the country," OSU coach Kurt Budke said. "I think that's a key matchup. People have trouble guarding Andrea one-on-one, I don't care how quick you are."

If the matchup on the court is half as entertaining as the banter in Friday's news conferences, it should be worth watching. Riley, in leading Oklahoma State to its first Sweet 16 since 1991, was asked about the significance of LSU having played in the last four Final Fours.

"I think experience is overrated," Riley said. "Any team can get beat on any night. & We're trying to get a win, and we're going to go out there with a lot of confidence. This is just another team we're playing. They're great, I'm not doubting that. You can't go out there being intimidated by the name."

White, who has 12 starts in NCAA Tournament play, took exception to the idea that her previous three seasons won't help her this weekend.

"I think experience is the best teacher," White said. "I'd like for that player to try to get to the Final Four a couple of times herself, then come back and tell me experience is overrated. I don't think you can speak on it unless you've been there."

The Tigers aren't hurting for confidence, as Fowles was plainly asked if she thought she was the best player in college basketball, an honor often bestowed upon Tennessee's Candace Parker.

"Yes," she said. "For me, I work so hard, and I consider myself being dominant on both ends of the floor."

Get to Tampa, and she might have a chance to prove that.

Greg Auman can be reached at or
(813) 226-3346.

LSU seniors seek return to Sunshine State 03/28/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2008 1:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kevin Cash: 'We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence'


    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to start playing good baseball games whether we match up well against that team or not," Kevin Cash said.
  2. Lightning wing J.T. Brown on why he donated to remove Confederate statue


    Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.

    J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.
  3. Rays, Bucs and Lightning join Dungy in donating to move Confederate monument


    The Tampa Bay area's three major league sports teams have pledged their financial support in moving a Confederate monument out of downtown Tampa.

    Tony Dungy in 2011. [Getty]
  4. Tim Tebow came into their life, and never left


    There are a lot of stories about Tim Tebow connecting with people during his life, Tebow inspiring them and Tebow being inspired.

    Boomer Hornbeck of Naples, Fla., has battled cerebral palsy and undergone surgery after surgery in the hopes of allowing him to one day walk. Inspired by Tim Tebow, and encouraged by his relationship with him, Hornbeck has become a motivational speaker.
  5. For starters: Rays at Jays, with Longoria moved to No. 2 spot in order


    UPDATE, 3:10: Cash said the change was made primarily for two reasons, to change the look for several of the hitters and to get back to alternating lefty and righty hitters to make it tougher for opposing managers to match up relievers. Cash said he plans to stick with this structure for a while but doesn't …

    Evan Longoria was moved from his usual No. 3 spot in the batting order up to second.