good article on team chemistry

Discussion in 'The Tiger's Den' started by lsucurlyq, May 7, 2002.

  1. lsucurlyq

    lsucurlyq Founding Member

    Mar 11, 2002
    Likes Received:
    hey all. i thought this was a good article the advocate ran in teh paper today about the chemistry of our baseball team:

    Tigers team chemistry winning formula

    [email protected]
    Advocate sportswriter
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- LSU had already lost the first game of a doubleheader to Tennessee, and the Tigers found themselves trailing by four runs early in the second game Saturday.

    By the seventh inning, LSU was tied with Tennessee, and Tigers catcher Chris Phillips was at bat with two out and runners on first and second.

    "I really wanted to get a hit and drive in a run," Phillips said. "I didn't want to let my teammates down. They were counting on me, depending on me, and I wanted to come through for them."

    Phillips singled home the go-ahead run. LSU scored three more runs in the inning, six more in the eighth inning, and rolled to a 16-4 victory over the Volunteers. The Tigers won the three-game series with a 6-2 victory Sunday.

    The desire Phillips had to continue LSU's rally Saturday, to avoid disappointing his teammates, is one of the benefits of what the Tigers and their coaches call great team chemistry. It's one reason LSU, after a slow start, is still in contention for the Southeastern Conference Western Division championship.

    LSU coach Smoke Laval talked about it early during fall practice, and so did the players. This team, they said, was more close-knit than last year's team. These Tigers were more like a family.

    One of the payoffs of such togetherness is the type of attitude Phillips had with a pivotal game on the line.

    "I love all the guys on this team," Phillips said. "Everybody means something to every one of us -- even the managers and the trainers. Nobody puts himself over anyone else, and everybody cares about each other."

    The team unity was a big reason the Tigers overcame a rocky March -- when they found themselves in last place in the SEC West -- and put together one of the hottest months in LSU history. The Tigers were 14-3 in April, ending the month with three shutout wins in four games.

    "This team has gone through a lot more adversity than last year's ballclub," said LSU junior third baseman Wally Pontiff. "A lot of things fell into place for us last year, including some tough games we won that other teams gave to us.

    "This year, no one's really given us anything. That's really built us as a team."

    Pontiff said the team chemistry helped the Tigers handle the adversity.

    Veteran players say they could tell at the start of fall practice that this team was different. The many new players -- from freshmen to junior-college transfers -- were team-oriented, eager to get along with each other, and hungry.

    Pontiff said the newcomers talked about getting LSU back to the College World Series, back to Omaha, Neb., and not about their draft prospects as some players on last year's team did.

    Players spent time off the field as a group, not in cliques, and that helped with team unity, they said. So did Laval's fall conditioning routine, new to the Tigers.

    "We had to get up at 6 in the morning and lift weights and work out," junior pitcher Bo Pettit said. "Seeing people that early every morning, you either like it or you don't, but we kind of meshed together then. When a team's work habits are good, it does a lot for the camaraderie.

    "You can see it with this team. Even back then we were working together for one goal, and that was getting back to Omaha."

    LSU associate trainer Shawn Eddy sees the players every day, and he said he likes the camaraderie he sees.

    "Not taking anything away from what last year's team did as a group, but I think if you talk with the guys you'll see there were a few guys who were out for themselves a little more than they were for the team," Eddy said. "This year's team has taken the totally opposite approach. They're more out for the team and less for what personal accolades might come.

    "They really have a lot of fun doing it that way. That's probably the biggest difference. Last year's team had fun, but this year's team has a lot more fun together, as a group. You see it on bus rides and at practices and in the locker room. It's a happy-go-lucky group, and I think that carries over onto the field."

    Laval likes the way the team bonded naturally, without it being forced on them.

    "You don't need the team breakfast with this group," Laval said. "They're going to do it anyway because they want to."

    The Tigers saw Saturday's big win as a sign of the character they've forged as friends and teammates. Today, they'll tell you they knew they could come back, but trailing 4-0 after three innings, they looked down.

    Pontiff said he could see the weekend slipping away from LSU, along with any chance of gaining ground in the SEC standings. So he gathered his teammates into a huddle before the fourth inning.

    "I asked them to make a decision," Pontiff said. "Did they want the season to end right then? Or did we want to continue to play through it?"

    Eric Wiethorn led off the inning with a solo home run for LSU's first run. Aaron Hill continued the comeback with a solo homer in the fifth. Sean Barker's two-run homer started the seventh-inning assault that put LSU ahead to stay.

    Pontiff's pep talk, his reality check, seemed to help. Laval said he appreciates that type of leadership.

    "When you do it like he does, yes," Laval said. "You know, once every seven or eight games, just to refocus them."

    But such leadership can work only if the players believe in each other and in their leaders. The Tigers seem unified on both fronts.

    Now LSU is in the home stretch of the regular season. The Tigers will play three games this weekend at Florida, then finish at home against Alabama, the first-place team in the SEC West.

    Then comes the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

    Pontiff said he thinks LSU's camaraderie and chemistry will equip the Tigers well for a strong postseason run.

    "In my opinion, it's highly doubtful we could be like the 2000 team and be undefeated in the postseason," Pontiff said of LSU's last national champions. "If we lose a game and have to beat a team twice, though, I think we will be able to handle that because of the adversity we've overcome together this season.

    "It's built a lot of character, and I don't know that last year's team would have been able to handle things as well."

    The 16-4 win Saturday proved one of the things Pontiff likes best about this team -- its ability to finish strong.

    "We use the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to score runs," Pontiff said. "This is one of the great teams I've ever been on for scoring runs late in the game. That's why I think this team is going to be good, because we use all nine innings to score."

    Can the Tigers finish the season strong, as they often do in games? Pontiff said he has no doubt.

    "If we lose a game, don't count us out," Pontiff said. "We'll be ready to come back because of what we've been through this year. And we'll do it as a team."
  2. Ellis Hugh

    Ellis Hugh Space Wrangler

    Aug 9, 2001
    Likes Received:

Share This Page