Q&A: LSU’s Plaisance ready to build on success

Tri-parish native leads LSU past No. 1 Florida
April 11, 2012
Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream skates into N.O.
April 12, 2012
Tri-parish native leads LSU past No. 1 Florida
April 11, 2012
Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream skates into N.O.
April 12, 2012

Everyone in the Tri-parishes knows that LSU forward Theresa Plaisance can play a little round-ball.

We witnessed her skills first-hand for two years while she was becoming a McDonald’s All-American at Vandebilt Catholic.

But in the standout’s sophomore season as a Lady Tiger, the rest of the world got in on the secret as well.

In her second year in purple and gold, Plaisance established herself as a rotation player for LSU, averaging 4 points per game.

But those numbers are a bit skewed because the former Vandebilt star played her best basketball in the season’s final games, averaging 8.3 points per game in LSU’s final four games, a stretch that included contests against Elite 8 teams Kentucky and Tennesee and also NCAA Tournament opponents San Diego State and Penn State.

TPT sports editor Casey Gisclair spoke with Plaisance in between offseason workouts this week and discussed a litany of topics.

Among the things Plaisance addressed were her offseason plans and how the Lady Tigers will respond without All-American forward LaSondra Barrett in 2012-13.

SportsNet: Well, statistically, it’s easy to see that things went much better for you in your sophomore year compared to your freshman season. Can you talk about how things went for you? What went right this year?

Theresa Plaisance: This was a really good year for not just me, but for us as a team. I feel like we’ve been through so much and we’ve overcome so much adversity. We did a lot of things that were beyond what was expected. We could have shut down when we lost Anne [Pedersen] at the beginning of the year. We could have shut down when we lost Destini [Hughes] in the middle of the year. We just dealt with all kinds of injuries and stuff and we never gave up and we kept pushing on. I was really pleased with how we did. We played very well.

SN: Having the opportunity to play more as a sophomore, what was that like for you?

TP: I just used the time that I had on the court as a growing and learning experience. Last year, I didn’t really get much, so this was basically like my freshman year all over again experience-wise. I was looking forward to playing more this year and I think I proved that I could contribute to this team just as well as anybody else can. I think that next year, there’s going to be even more of what you saw this year. Because I’m really going to work my butt off all summer and preseason to get where I need to be.

SN: You mentioned hard work. What will you be working on?

TP: My top three things on my list with Coach Caldwell is being more powerful in the post, working on my perimeter game and having more options out of the high post. You should see a lot more of my inside game next year because I’ll be playing inside a lot more than I did this year.

SN: You mentioned Coach Nikki Caldwell. How was your transition playing for her this year?

TP: Coach Caldwell is so great. We are so blessed to have her and her staff come down and coach for us. She’s not only a great coach, but a great person. She teaches us on-court stuff and how to be a better person. She has helped us grow in so many ways, as a team and as individuals. We’re all just so grateful for her and her staff.

SN: This year’s final buzzer had to be a little tough for ya’ll because ya’ll lost a lot of seniors who had been with LSU for a long time – ladies like LaSondra Barrett, Destini Hughes and Courtney Jones. How did it feel when you realized you wouldn’t have those players anymore and that they’d played their last games?

TP: It’s really hard knowing that that group is not going to come back next year. They are not only teammates to us, but they are really, really good friends. It’s really hard to have teammates like that move on and know you won’t be able to play with them ever again. It’s pretty tough knowing they won’t be back next year because they are a very special group in the LSU family and I’m sure they will always be remembered.

SN: You see the players who will be asked to fill the holes left with their departures – what do you see out of next year’s younger players who will play more prominent roles?

TP: Next year, we’re actually going to be guard-heavy, so we won’t have to have people stepping out of position to play guard like we had this year. We’re actually really looking forward to next year and we all think we’re going to do special things. Coach Caldwell is going to be prepared to have us where we need to be. She said we’re going to do things a little bit differently. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I’m really looking forward to what she has in store for us.

SN: One of the things we all noticed back home when looking at the stats is you seemed to play your best basketball of the season in big games. You had two solid games against Tennessee and you played well in the NCAA Tournament. What was it about the big games that drew the best out of you?

TP: I really don’t know. Those are the games that we were either really close behind or not much ahead, so I guess that’s just when the real competitiveness came out in me. When we were playing those top couple of schools, it just really fired me up, because we knew we needed to do our best to survive. Some of those wins really helped us out in the postseason, so I guess the motivation was on postseason play. I guess that’s what fired me up.

SN: But with you playing your best basketball at the end of the season, that has to have you optimistic that your junior season will be your best one yet?

TP: Oh yeah. I’m really going to try and expand on all of my bases. I have pretty good bases right now, but there’s so much more that I can do. Coach Caldwell and her staff are all going to push us to our limits – that’s for sure. I’m really excited. This last senior group was a great group and we’re losing great athletes and great teammates, but we also have a great group coming in and we have the nucleus of our team coming back. We just need to build on what we’ve accomplished this year.

LSU sophomore Theresa Plaisance swoops for a right-handed layup. The Houma native said she hopes to continue her improvement as a junior.