1.13.19 LSU vs South Carolina

LSU junior forward Ayana Mitchell (5) shoots the ball during the lady Tigers' 76-52 loss to South Carolina, on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 in the PMAC.

The LSU women’s basketball team is made up of 15 players, each of which plays in important role in the rotation, but junior guard Khayla Pointer and senior forward Ayana Mitchell have the two most important positions on the team: the emotional leaders.

The duo are not only responsible for running the Tigers’ offense, but also making sure the rest of the team is ready for every game, especially since five other key players on the team are underclassmen.

“I think this group is lead by a very compassionate but competitive player in Ayana Mitchell,” said coach Nikki Fargas. “She is very much in tune with what we have to do and what we have to accomplish and so is Khayla Pointer.”

Fargas praised the two women for staying in the moment and not getting caught up in what happened last year, referring to was the Lady Tigers’ 16-13 overall and 7-9 conference record, respectively.

Fargas stressed that the current team is better now than where they were last year. She attributed this mindset specifically to the leadership of Mitchell and Pointer.

Mitchell is one of only four seniors on this year’s roster. She recently broke the 1,000-career point mark in a victory over the University of New Orleans.

Mitchell was named to both the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy watch lists. She is arguably the Tiger’s best player and their leader. Mitchell understands the rest of the team looks to her in big games.

While Mitchell is more vocal, Pointer is a different kind of leader — quieter and leading by example more than anything else.

“Khayla is going to be a person of few words, but she is really good with her teammates off the court,” said Fargas, who believes Pointer will develop a more vocal style throughout the season. “There’s a leadership that is unspoken.”

The leadership of Mitchell and Pointer will be a big factor going forward not only in Southeastern Conference play, but in the Tigers’ non-conference schedule.

Fargas said that about 80% of the team’s non-conference opponents are teams that have previously been to the NCAA Tournament. LSU is currently 3-1. The Tigers defeated in-state opponents Tulane 59-54 on Sunday and will play Southeastern next on Nov. 20, followed by Rutgers, who was a No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament last season, on Nov. 24.

Then the Lady Tigers begin the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas with No. 16 Michigan State on Nov. 29 and then either Memphis or Kansas State.

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