Going into any game, one of the goals for a Will Wade-coached basketball team is to commit 10 or fewer turnovers.
But after LSU’s first three games, in which the Tigers have had 67 giveaways their opponents have turned into 72 points — which accounts for nearly a third of the 228 points they have given up in a 2-1 start — Wade is lowering the bar a little.
Ten or less may still be the real goal, but at this point he’ll gladly accept anything lower than the 26 turnovers his team had in losing at VCU last Wednesday and the 25 it chalked up in a 75-65 win over Nicholls State on Saturday.
Obviously, Wade wouldn’t mind seeing the turnaround start in LSU’s 7 p.m. game Tuesday against Maryland-Baltimore County (4-0) in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
UMBC, which became the first No. 16 seed to upend a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament just 20 months ago when the Retrievers stunned Virginia, have already turned their opponents over 68 times.
The past two games have been real head-scratchers for Wade and his staff, who have addressed the turnover issue numerous times since it first cropped up in an exhibition win over Louisiana Tech on Nov. 2.
“It’s no secret we have to get our turnover issue under control,” Wade said. “We have 32 assists on the year and our opponents have 36 steals. We’ve thrown the ball to the other team four more times than we’ve thrown it to ourselves. That’s not good.”
The turnovers seem to come in bunches, he said, but noted he hopes to have the solution against a UMBC team that’s done most of its damage so far against Division II and Division III competition.
“We have to do a better job of moving on and staying in the present play and not compounding our mistakes,” Wade said. “If we do that, we can knock 10, 12 turnovers off. If we do that, we’ll be around 12 to 14 turnovers — which is manageable. We have to get that under control."
He noted some of it starts with him because he has good guards in Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays and Charles Manning.
Smart leads the team with 17 turnovers and Mays has 12. Manning has only two, but 6-foot-9 freshman forward Trendon Watford, who sometimes rushes the ball up the floor after clearing a rebound, has 15.
“We have good guards,” Wade said. “We’ll get this under control. I feel good about our mentality; some of it isn’t the guys who have all the turnovers fault. Some of it is our spacing, our cutting, our movement as we’ve adjusted to a little different offense.
“We get a little too stagnant when teams take away our first option,” he said. “We just stand around and watch as opposed to moving and finding other ways to get back into things. I have to coach that better.”
As of Sunday, LSU was 349th of 350 Division I teams with 22.3 turnovers per game. Only Rider, with 22.7 per game, has more.
LSU gave the ball away just 12.9 times a game a year ago.
“If you go back and study the turnovers, they come in bunches,” Wade said of their current issues. “If we commit one, we end up committing four in five possessions.
“The problem is in the half-court. We get bogged down in the half court, our spacing isn’t great, we don’t shorten passes, we don’t meet passes. We don’t do fundamental things that we need to do and that’s on me to get that corrected … that’s not all on the players.”
WHAT: Maryland-Baltimore County at LSU
WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: WDGL-FM, 98.1; WWL-AM, 1350; KLWB-FM, 103.7
UP NEXT: vs. Utah State, 6 p.m. Friday (at Jamaica Classic)
• Sophomore forward Darius Days had the first double-double of his career with 17 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's win over Nicholls State.
• LSU's opponents are shooting just 37.0% this season. Bowling Green shot 32.0%, VCU shot 41.3% and Nicholls State hit just 38.7%.
• Skylar Mays (16), Emmitt Williams (13) and Javonte Smart (13) have drawn 42 total fouls in three games and are 39 of 49 at the free-throw line.
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Darnell Rogers 5-2 Jr. 16.0 5.3*
G L.J. Owens 6-3 So. 13.0 4.3
G R.J. Eytle-Rock 6-3 So. 2.5 1.0
F Daniel Akin 6-9 Jr. 6.0 4.8
F Brandon Horvath 6-10 Jr. 12.5 8.5
F Dimitrije Spasojevic 6-8 Jr. 11.3 5.0
G Keondre Kennedy 6-0 So. 8.3 5.3
G Ricky Council 6-5 Sr. 13.0 4.0
Pos. Name Ht. Cl. Pts. Rebs.
G Javonte Smart 6-4 So. 13.0 4.3*
G Skylar Mays 6-4 Sr. 19.7 8.0
F Darius Days 6-6 So. 13.3 7.3
F Emmitt Williams 6-6 So. 13.7 7.3
F Trendon Watford 6-9 Fr. 12.7 5.3
G Charles Manning 6-5 Jr. 7.3 5.0
G Aundre Hyatt 6-5 Fr. 0.7 3.3
G James Bishop 6-2 Fr. 1.3 0.0