His father, Bruce, listening on a stage to his right, Keith Hornsby heeded the Grammy-award winners’ command from one of his most famous hits, telling reporters just the way it is for this struggling LSU basketball team.
“(We’re) about as tough as a teddy bear right now,” Hornsby said.
Hornsby’s bluntness isn’t surprising. Neither was his sentiment to teammates.
“Watch the last eight games,” freshman Antonio Blakeney instructed. “No, we’re not tough. We’re potentially tough, but we have to go show it on the court. That’s something we have to go show.”
With the much ballyhooed debut of Craig Victor in the post, where a desperate need of edge and grit on the glass is apparent, LSU will try to avoid a fifth loss in its past six games against Gardner-Webb at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
Outrebounded in three of their past four games — all losses — Victor brings an athletic 6-foot-9, physical body into the blocks, where Elbert Robinson III, Brian Bridgewater and Aaron Epps that all average less than 3.5 rebounds per game.
All but two LSU players — Tim Quarterman and Ben Simmons — average less than four rebounds per game and the Tigers give up almost four more rebounds a game than they grab.
“Effort, effort,” LSU coach Johnny Jones responded when asked what’s causing the disparity. “You got a guy like Ben getting 12, 15, 16 rebounds, other guys have to do their part. Tim gets 10 (against Houston) and our other guys really don’t come up and they’re playing a lot of minutes.
“When you got guys on the floor playing 34, 35 minutes and getting two rebounds, not enough.”
Enter Victor, whom Hornsby describes as a “little dirty animal,” treating each regular-season practice as a game, diving for loose balls, grabbing rebounds and showing the urgency not many have consistently seen in these first eight games.
The New Orleans native and Arizona transfer will don purple and gold for a second time. He prepped at St. Augustine for three years before transferring to the prestigious Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, where he averaged 8.6 rebounds per game in his senior season.
“No, not really,” Victor said when asked if he’s excited. “I’m just ready to play. Been working hard at it, just ready to play. Practice is my game, so it’s pretty much like I’m playing every day in practice. So pretty much to get the guys better around me and go hard every day.”
Victor echoed most of his teammates. There’s a potential for toughness, and it’s even appeared in brief spurts this season, but a 40-minute display has evaded the Tigers all season.
Jones, who faces the prospect of dropping under .500 for just the second time in his four-year tenure in Baton Rouge, senses Victor’s addition could remedy that.
“He’s going to bring a sense of urgency and toughness,” Jones said of Victor.
“Something we don’t have, or haven’t played with, in that post area.”
Patterson game-time decision
Sophomore guard Jalyn Patterson, who injured his left leg after practice last week and did not dress out against Houston, did not practice on Monday or Tuesday and is a game-time decision “at best” for Wednesday’s game, Jones said.
“They may take a look at him (Wednesday),” Jones said. “At best, it may be a game-time decision. If not, we are hopeful that he is back for the weekend. We are not counting him out, at this point, for (Wednesday’s) game.”
Patterson’s seen action in all seven games this season with three starts, averaging 5.9 points.