LSU expecting big things from freshmen

Updated: October 15, 2003, 2:16 PM ET

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU basketball coach John Brady has joked on a couple of occasions that he's going to smile more this season.

It shouldn't take much effort. He's got a lot to smile about.

The coach begins his seventh season at LSU with five talented incoming freshmen plus Jaime Lloreda, Antonio Hudson, Darrel Mitchell and Xavier Whipple, all of whom started at some point last season.

"If I had to choose experience or talent, I'd take talent," Brady said. "You can gain experience by playing, but once the season starts you can't get talent.

"I really like this team. I like what it has done in workouts."

Parade All-Americans Brandon Bass and Regis Koundjia bring serious talent. Bass, 6 feet-8, 249 pounds, has impressed Brady with his work on and off the court. He's already been named student-athlete of the month for August and September.

"I like those kinds of players," Brady said. "Low maintenance, no distractions. He's just trying to be the best he can be."

In Koundjia, Brady sees a 6-8, long-armed, athletic forward who will play often and may eventually start.

Lloreda returns as one of the SEC's leading rebounders. Brady said Hudson has shown promise that he can return to the form of his freshman season. Mitchell and Whipple were both steadying influences last season.

The trick is to blend the newcomers with the holdovers. Brady brought in a sports psychologist to meet with coaches and players and get a head start on building team unity.

"We wanted them to get to know one another better, have a better understanding, to build the intangibles which a championship team possesses," Brady said. "I'm hoping that when the score is tied on CBS on a Sunday afternoon in early February, that the intangibles and the things this team has been through will help us when the score is tied. And we win that game, based on what we know about one another, how better we understand one another."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index