Seven wins against teams in the top 50 of the official NCAA rating percentage index and the well-respected KenPom.com metrics mean nothing to Will Wade, he said Monday.
For the time being, Wade isn’t worried about quality wins or postseason possibilities for his LSU basketball team — not even after Saturday’s huge 64-63 home win against Missouri.
The victory over Missouri, which now sits in a four-way tie for third in the Southeastern Conference with four regular-season games remaining, gave LSU an RPI boost to 75, while Wade’s team comes in at 62nd at KenPom.com.
While LSU isn’t on the radar of the nation's top bracketologists — ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com — the Tigers are listed as a No. 3 seed by nycbuckets.com in one of the four eight-team NIT pods.
On Monday, Wade was more concerned with trying to find ways for his team to pay back Vanderbilt for a Jan. 20 loss in Nashville when the Tigers and Commodores meet at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
When asked if he’s had any big-picture postseason talk with his team, Wade quickly said, “Oh, hell no. No, no, no … we worry about today.”
Still, after the Missouri win and despite his coach’s reluctance to think too far ahead, guard Skylar Mays said it’s tough to not think about it — especially when at this time last year the Tigers were sinking fast.
“It’s hard not to look too far ahead when you look on TV and see yourself in the ‘Next Four Out,’ ” he said. “I don’t know a lot about that stuff, but we know at the end of the day we need to take care of business (Tuesday night), and just keep chipping at the rock.”
Almost on cue Saturday afternoon, Daryl Edwards proved his coach to be prophetic.
Even though it’s still early in his coaching career, Wade said he’s been on the proverbial postseason bubble at a lot of different schools — and knows his team’s work is far from done.
LSU (15-11, 6-8 SEC) is tied for ninth in the league going into Tuesday night’s game with Vanderbilt (11-16, 5-9), which hasn't exactly rolled over since it was in last place with a 2-8 conference mark two weeks ago.
The Commodores, who got past the Tigers 77-71 in their first meeting, have won three of their past four with upsets of Mississippi State and Florida in their past two outings — which certainly has Wade’s attention.
That's why he wasn't thinking about back-to-back road games with Georgia on Saturday and South Carolina (Feb. 28) as well as the regular-season finale at home against Mississippi State (March 3).
The Tigers also have the SEC tournament, which will be played March 7-11 in St. Louis, to continue building their resume.
In addition to the seven top-50 wins, eight of LSU's 11 losses have come against teams in the KenPom.com top 50.
Wade said he doesn’t want his players trying to figure out what it all means in the long run.
“About the most I’ll tell them is, 'I’m the expert, you just listen to me,’” he said. “‘Don’t listen to what anybody else has to say. They don’t know. So you listen to me, and I’ll let you know what you need to know.’
One-point margins are thin lines with which to draw conclusions.
"We're miles away from worrying about that junk," a smiling Wade told reporters. "Get back to me if we’ve won another couple games this week."
Wade said the difference at his other stops and trying to get the LSU program to where it’s a perennial postseason contender is in the leadership his new team has yet to show.
Wade, who guided VCU to the NCAA tournament in both of his seasons there, noted he had players who would take the lead heading to the postseason and show the younger players how it’s done, allowing the coach to fall into the background.
“Here, if that was the case, that’s not how it would go,” he said. “If I let that happen, we would drive that car in the ditch real quick.”
So, it’s truly one game at a time.
What’s more important right now, Wade said, is one more win checks off one of his team’s goals: ensuring a winning season after a 10-21 campaign a year ago that included a 15-game losing streak and 2-16 SEC mark.
“The best thing we can do is beat Vanderbilt and get our 16th win,” Wade said. “We won’t have a losing season … that would be guaranteed. That would be a heck of a first step.
“How about that? Let’s do that and then, what do we say, it’s lagniappe from there.”
“Definitely, the one thing we have now is hope,” Mays said with a smile. “We have a chance; we have an opportunity to give ourselves a chance to play in March. That’s what we’re excited about.”
WHAT: Vanderbilt at LSU
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: at Georgia, 1 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)
• LSU, which edged Missouri 64-63 on Saturday, is 8-1 this season when holding its opponent to 65 or fewer points.
• Riley LaChance (26) and Jeff Roberson (20) combined for 46 points in Vanderbilt’s 77-71 win over LSU on Jan. 20.
• Roberson is the reigning SEC player of the week after scoring 48 points and getting 18 rebounds in two Vandy wins.
Vanderbilt (11-16, 5-9 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Saben Lee 6-2 Fr. 10.0 3.0*
G Riley LaChance 6-2 Sr. 13.2 3.3*
G Payton Willis 6-4 So. 5.1 2.0
F Jeff Roberson 6-6 Sr. 16.6 7.2
F Joe Toye 6-7 Jr. 6.1 2.1
C Djery Baptiste 6-10 So. 3.4 3.8
F Clevon Brown 6-8 So. 3.6 3.0
G Maxwell Evans 6-2 Fr. 3.5 1.7
LSU (15-11, 6-8 SEC)
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Tremont Waters 5-11 Fr. 14.7 5.8*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 So. 11.0 4.0
G Daryl Edwards 6-3 Jr. 7.0 1.5
F Aaron Epps 6-10 Sr. 9.7 6.0
F Duop Reath 6-11 Sr. 13.5 5.4
F Wayde Sims 6-6 So. 5.5 3.2
G Brandon Sampson 6-5 Jr. 7.5 2.3
G Randy Onwuasor 6-3 Sr. 4.7 1.9