Will Wade admits he can handle losing.
What he can’t stomach is the way the LSU basketball team lost games at Auburn and Tennessee last week.
Apparently, neither can the Tigers.
After dropping back-to-back games to Auburn by 25 points and Tennessee by 23, Wade sent shockwaves through his team by temporarily taking away some of their perks.
Speaking Tuesday to a large group of fans at the monthly Will Wade Tipoff Luncheon at L’Auberge Hotel Casino, the Tigers’ first-year coach told of locking his team out of its locker room for two days before last Saturday’s home game with Arkansas.
“We usually eat really, really nice meals; They get all this great food after practice — fish, steak, chicken, pasta … it’s a big-time spread,” Wade told his audience. “I got rid of all that, and I got them ham-and-cheese box lunches.
“So, they were going to play their ass off against Arkansas,” he said to laughter from the crowd. “They were tired of the ham-and-cheese sandwiches, and they were tired of not being in the locker room.”
The meals and locker room access weren’t the only things the players lost.
Wade had them wash their own clothes, which the team’s managers usually do.
“I wouldn’t let the managers do any of their laundry,” he said. “I felt like a couple of them got a little too comfortable about being here.
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“Think about all the stuff they get: The managers do the laundry and give it back the next day. They get three meals a day. Their locker room is tremendous with couches. ... Sometimes you have to rattle their cages a little bit. That got their attention.”
It seemed to do wonders against Arkansas.
LSU suddenly found its shooting touch and hit 52.7 percent of its field-goal attempts, topped by a season-high 15 baskets from beyond the 3-point arc, and dropped Arkansas 94-86 in a key Southeastern Conference game.
“That worked,” Wade said as he began to chuckle. “They hated those ham-and-cheese sandwiches.”
Wade then looked over at former LSU All-American Rudy Macklin, who was the guest speaker Tuesday, and said: “It’s a little different.”
Macklin, who played in the late 1970s, replied: “It’s a lot different.”
“I can stand losing; I just can’t stand the way we lose sometimes,” Wade said, referring to the lopsided losses at Auburn and Tennessee. “They got the point, but they understand it can happen again.”