What a difference a year makes? It was just a year ago, the LSU men's basketball team found itself with a disappointing 8-13 record. Any dreams of post season play were swiped away. Head coach John Brady was released mid-season, leaving the program on an uncontrollable free fall to the bottom of the SEC West. With the program seeming to take a backseat to men's football and baseball, one wondered where the university would turn for its next basketball coach.
On April 10, 2008, LSU hired its 20th men's basketball coach from Stanford University. Trent Johnson became the first African American head coach in LSU men's sports history. Johnson had some success as the coach at Stanford, leading his Cardinal to three NCAA March madness appearances, but he was now faced with the challenge of building a program from the bottom of the SEC. With the loss of a key player to the NBA Draft and an extremely unimpressive previous season, Johnson would have his work cut out for him.
On the bright side, he had a seasoned senior led team with Final Four experience. LSU started out SEC play with a loss to Alabama, but then rallied off 13 straight SEC wins to claim the rights to the SEC season title, a turnaround that not even the most devoted LSU fan could have predicted. Trent Johnson attributes the success to the hard work and character of his players. And he is correct, but we think that this remarkable turnaround also has something to do with good leadership and great coaching.