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Friday, March 28
Senior leadership serves LSU well

Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU basketball coach Sue Gunter knows some coaches would have given up on players like her two fifth-year seniors, guard Kisha James and post player DeTrina White.

Because of many injuries, James and White often spent more time bouncing from the training room to therapy than bouncing a basketball.

They rewarded Gunter's faith with crucial in LSU's 80-69 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay 80 in Monday's second-round NCAA West Regional game.

"They were both absolutely unbelievable,'' Gunter said. "They've been leaders for this team all year.''

James went in when an accidental elbow broke two bones in starting point guard Temeka Johnson's face Monday night.

In the next 15 minutes, James had five points, four assists and one turnover. White played 18 minutes, giving LSU eight points, six rebounds and a blocked shot.

Of course, had things gone the way James and White expected, neither would be suiting up when the top-seeded Lady Tigers (29-3) take on No. 5 seed Louisiana Tech (31-2) in a West Regional semifinal in Stanford, Calif.

James might already be in graduate school. Two serious knee injuries and a broken foot kept her out of the LSU lineup, but ultimately brought her back for a fifth season.

"I guess the most important thing I've learned is to never give up,'' James said. "A lot of people who had two ACL surgeries would give up, but I couldn't.''

The 5-foot-6 James is the first to admit her style of play has changed drastically since she came to LSU as the high-scoring two-time winner of the coveted Louisiana Miss Basketball award.

White could be playing professionally by now had she stayed injury-free. Her game has changed more in substance than style. Like James, White has had her fair share of glory. The 5-11 center was voted national Freshman of the Year in 1998-99 and averaged 13 points per game.

She has struggled with stress fractures in her right foot. A nagging back injury required surgery, forcing White to redshirt last season. A stress fracture forced her to sit out eight more games this year.

"My game's not that much different,'' White said. "But what I do for the team has changed. Now I know I may only be in there for a few minutes at a time. When I'm out there I've got to give it everything I have. I'm comfortable with that.''

Although Johnson is expected to play on Sunday, Gunter said LSU's attack is in good hands regardless of which point guard plays. Johnson, who came to Wednesday's practice wearing sunglasses to shield her bruised eye, agrees.

"People don't understand how hard we push each other in practice,'' Johnson said. "Kisha and I are like magnets and when we're on opposite teams we just get after it.

"When she went in the game (Monday) I pulled her aside and told her the little guard Wisconsin-Green Bay had was no different than me. She has me frustrated in practice. It was time for her to frustrate somebody else.''

Gunter said White will be a key player against physical Louisiana Tech, which is led by 6-foot-3 post player Cheryl Ford, the daughter of Utah Jazz star Karl Malone.

"Tech has physical post players and that's DeTrina's kind of game,'' Gunter said. "She likes to be in a physical game. She knows how to handle that.''

Both James and White played for LSU in 1999 when the Lady Tigers lost to the Techsters 73-52 in a West Regional game played in Los Angeles. Both remember Louisiana Tech as a team with solid post players and speedy guards. The two seniors expect more of the same this time around.

"The reason we've played all the tough games we have up to now is to get ready for games like this one,'' James said.

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