Lady Tigers ready to launch the Caldwell era

Nikki Caldwell: Launches LSU tenure Monday

Under a new coach and with revived optimism after missing the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the No. 21-ranked LSU women start season on the road

After a tremendous off-season program and pre-season practice, the 21st-ranked LSU women's basketball team opens a new chapter in its storied history as first-year coach Nikki Caldwell leads the Lady Tigers against Wichita State in the 2011-12 season opener at 7 p.m. Monday at Charles Koch Arena.

"It's exciting for our team that the season is finally here," Caldwell said. "We've put a lot of hard work in since the summer in preparing for the season ahead. This is a place that has a love for women's basketball, and I am proud to be the head coach here."

The game will be carried live on the LSU Sports Radio Network on 107.3 WBRP-FM in Baton Rouge and in the GeauxZone on www.LSUsports.net/live.

LSU is beginning its 37th season of women's basketball, and the Lady Tigers are 30-6 all-time in season-openers. LSU is opening a season on the road for the second straight year after dropping a 71-62 game at Northwestern last season.

The Lady Tigers fell short of their NCAA Tournament goal last March, but this year's squad is poised to prove something under the leadership of five seniors and Caldwell.

Caldwell said she expects to play multiple combinations and use a deep bench that fits nicely into the up-tempo offensive style that the Lady Tigers will run.

LaSondra Barrett is back to anchor LSU inside

"We have a lot of depth on this team and we will look at several combinations," Caldwell said. "Whether you're playing 20 minutes or 5 minutes, each minute you're on the floor tells me something about you. There's going to be different games where players play different minutes depending on how practice went that week or the matchup we face. That's something that will always be evolving."

Senior forward LaSondra Barrett highlights a talented group of seniors. Barrett is on watch lists for nearly every National Player of the Year award, including the State Farm Wade Trophy, the John Wooden Award and the Lowe's Senior CLASS award.

Barrett comes into the season as the 23rd all-time leading scorer in LSU history with 1,118 points. She earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors last season after putting up 12.2 points per contest. Junior guard Adrienne Webb returns as the Lady Tigers' leading scorer from a year ago with 12.8 points per game.

Krystal Fortham

The 10 returning letterwinners welcome three newcomers to the roster headlined by 6-foot-4 forward Krystal Forthan of Portland, Ore. Forthan was a finalist for the Naismith High School Player of the Year award last season and she was a McDonald's All-American.

Wichita State (1-0) enters the game following a 77-49 blowout win over Northwestern State on Saturday night at home. The Shockers, who were 17-15 a season ago, are coached by Jody Adams, who was teammates with Caldwell on the 1991 Tennessee national championship team.

After the game in Wichita, LSU will play its home opener at 7 p.m. Wednesday against No. 10-ranked Georgetown.

Adult general admission tickets are $6 and youth tickets (ages 3-12) are $3. Tickets can be purchased online at www.LSUtix.net or by calling the LSU Athletic Ticket Office at (225) 578-2184. LSU students are admitted at no charge.

There will be two LSU-Arkansas football tickets given away at halftime.

Nikki Caldwell bio

2011-12 roster

2011-12 schedule

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