TIGER RAG'S YEAR IN REVIEW: The award winners

Coach of the Year John Brady

As we close the books on the 2005-06 athletic season, Tiger Rag takes a look back at the events of the past 12 months. From a top five finish in fotball to a pair of Final Four berths by the basketball teams all the way to feats rarely accomplished on the track, we present out Year in Review. We begin with the top performers from 2005-06.

Few would argue there has never been a more embattled coach in the SEC than John Brady – in any sport.

In nine seasons at LSU, Brady has experienced every peak and valley of a roller coaster ride that has produced two SEC titles, four trips to the NCAA Tournament and most recently, the Tigers' first trip to the Final Four in 20 years.

 

Brady has compiled a 167-111 record in his nine years as head coach, including a 68-76 mark in SEC play.

While many schools would be overjoyed with that type of production, Brady has been criticized for losing big games at critical times and for a high rate of attrition. In reality though, Brady hasn't had a losing season in six years and has averaged 21 wins per year since going 13-16 in 2000-01.

 

Yet, fans have been yelling for Brady's job for the better part of the last half-decade.

 

Until now.

 

What John Brady, Tiger Rag's 2005-06 Coach of the Year, was able to accomplish this past season will silence his critics for some time.

 

Capitalizing on a wealth of local talent, which included a starting lineup consisting of five starters from Louisiana (four of which were from Baton Rouge, Brady led the Tigers to a 27-9 record, a 14-2 mark in league play, the outright SEC title and four impressive victories in the NCAA Tournament en route to the Final Four.

 

Known for a sometimes fiery temper and an abrasive personality, a more-mellow, cooler, calmer and collected Brady appeared in 2005-06 and it showed by the way his team responded.

 

Speaking of response, Brady finally got the nod for a job well done with a sizeable raise in compensation which boosted him into the upper echelon of coaching salaries in the SEC. Toss in the fact LSU has made a major commitment to renovating the Pete Maravich Center as well as have a plan in place for a new practice facility, LSU Tiger basketball looks as if it will be here to stay for a while.

 

After nine long years of ups and downs, it is about time Brady got his just do. Congratulations coach.

 

 

RUNNERS UP:

 

Les Miles – Football

In his first year as head coach, Les Miles was dealt with much more than just the brutality of an SEC schedule. A plethora of staggering injuries, two hurricanes and a schedule full of postponements and relocations would force most people to throw in the towel. Miles led the Tigers to an 11-2 record, an SEC West title and the most decisive bowl victory in school history. Plus, a top five finish. Not too shabby.

 

Pokey Chatman – Women's Basketball

Pokey Chatman led the Lady Tigers to the program's third straight Final Four as well as its second straight outright SEC title. LSU pounded one ranked opponent after another, won in Knoxville for the first time in program's history and again featured the National Player of the Year (Seimone Augustus). However, the only blight on the season was a noticeable decline in performance down the stretch ending with a dismal showing in the national semifinal versus Duke.

 

Fran Flory – Volleyball

Speaking of adversity, no one coach, or team for that matter, faced more obstacles after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita than the LSU Volleyball team. With their home venue being used as the nation's largest ever triage unit, the volleyball Tigers were forced to play every game on the road until the second week of October. Flory incorporated the idea of carrying around a "Hurricane Evacuation" sign as the team's symbol for strength. In the end, LSU played only six matches at home, yet the Tigers still managed to compile a 21-8 record, win the program's first-ever SEC Western Division title and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 years.

- Matt Deville

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Xavier Carter

The "X-Man" cashed in on opportunity following the conclusion of the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, Ca. when he choose to forgo his remaining two years of eligibility at LSU and gave up a football career in order to join the European circuit.

 

The rising star had a stellar year that was capped off at the outdoor championships where Carter made history in winning four titles at the 2006 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 100m, 400m, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay. Carter started off running the second leg of LSU's 4x100m relay team, which was triumphant in 38.44 seconds.

 

The next day began with a 10.09 seconds victory in the 100 meters and continued a half hour later with a winning 400m time of 44.53 seconds. Carter finished off his weekend anchoring LSU's 4x400m relay team, which won the national title by more then half a second.

 

With his performance, Carter became the first athlete since Jesse Owens in 1936 to win four titles at a single NCAA Outdoor Championship and the first athlete ever to win both the 100m and 400m at an NCAA Championships. Carter was named both the SEC's Indoor and Outdoor Runner of the Year in 2005-2006, and capped his collegiate season by earning All-America honors at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

 

Carter's ultimate goal is to be a member of the 2008 USA Olympic Team in Beijing, China. At only 20 years old, Carter has an opportunity to qualify for both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. If he still wishes to play professional football following the Beijing Olympics, he will have the opportunity as only a 22-year-old.

 

However, after the Olympics, it may be difficult for Carter to leave track and field because of his marketability. After competing and succeeding on a world stage, the possibility of "X-Man" shoes, clothing and sports drinks could be probable.

 

As Carters "X-Man" marketability spreads across the nation and Europe, the sophomore sprinter was presented with a great opportunity to run professionally after matching Owens efforts. He eventually signed with Nike and is now tearing up the professional circuit.

 

In only his first week sprinting for Nike, he clocked the second fastest 200-meter time in the history of the world by scorching a 19.63 performance at the Athletissima 2006.

 

On the football field, Carter's playing time dwindled as the 2005 season progressed. He finished up his second season playing in 10 games, including the Tigers' 40-3 win over Miami in the Peach Bowl.

 

Because his playing time diminished, so did his stats. At the end of the season, he managed only four catches for 86 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown reception in LSU's win over North Texas. He also scored on a 36-yard run against Mississippi State, finishing the year with a total of 27 yards on four rushes.

 

RUNNERS UP:

 

Tyrus Thomas, Basketball

 

In most years Tyrus Thomas would be the Male Athlete of the Year. He was picked as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft and was a major contributor to LSU's Final-Four appearance. However, unfortunately for Thomas, Carter happens to be one of the best athletes in the world.

 

Thomas became the 12th player in school men's basketball history to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft and was the fifth player from LSU to be drafted in the top four, joining Bob Pettit in 1954 (2nd pick, Milwaukee); Pete Maravich in 1970 (3rd pick, Atlanta); Chris Jackson in 1990 (3rd pick, Denver); Shaquille O'Neal in 1992 (1st pick, Orlando) and Stromile Swift in 2000 (2nd pick, Vancouver).

 

Thomas moved into the starting lineup nine games into the Tigers 27-9 season and averaged 12.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and had 99 blocks in 32 games. He missed four games late into the season with a sprained ankle, including the SEC Tournament, but returned for the NCAA Tournament and was named the MVP of the Atlanta NCAA Region.

 

The redshirt-freshman had such a large impact on his squad during the regular season, he was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year.

 

 

Glen Davis, Basketball

Glen "Big Baby" Davis is perhaps LSU's most recognizable face. As a sophomore power forward, Davis with the help of Thomas led his squad deep into March, eventually qualifying for the Final Four.

 

Because of his contagious smile and constantly humoring the media, "Big Baby" became a household name this past spring and was accepted as a fan favorite. With a nickname like "Big Baby," Davis shares the same marketability that has projected Carter's career.

 

The hometown sophomore was named SEC Player of the Year for his efforts by averaging a league leading 18.6 points per game and a league best 9.7 rebounds per game. He became the 10th LSU player to lead the league in scoring (a total of 18 times) since 1933 while making 49.5 percent of his field goal attempts (250-of-505), fourth best in the SEC.

 

Davis also led the league in offensive rebounds at 4.03 a game. In conference play, he led the SEC in rebounds by grabbing 10.2 rebounds a game while adding 19 double doubles this season, 11 in SEC play, including 10 in the last 16 games the Tigers played.

 

 

Kyle Williams, Football

Every coach needs a Kyle Williams. In 2005, the star tackle was the Tiger leader. He led vocally in the locker room and physically on the field, helping LSU reach the SEC Championship Game and destroy Miami 40-3 at the Peach Bowl.

 

His most notable contribution in 2005 could not even be seen on the field. During halftime of the Alabama game in Tuscaloosa, the Tigers trailed 10-0 against the undefeated Crimson Tide in the game that would decided the SEC Western Division.

 

In the locker room, Williams motivated his teammates by questioning their desire to win and throwing anything he could find across the room. The Tigers came out in the second half and forced overtime with 10 unanswered points and a 16-13 victory.

 

The Ruston senior started all 12 games with 60 tackles, including 7.5 for loss with 4.5 sacks and 21 quarterback hurries. The first-team All-SEC player was a second team All-American and led an LSU defense that ranked in the top 10 in the nation in four categories.

 

The senior had a motor that would never quit and teamed with fellow tackle Claude Wroten to comprise perhaps the finest defensive middle in the country.

 

 

Quinn Stewart, Baseball

Quinn Stewart was a powerful hitting fifth year senior who shined on a struggling team throughout the season. The Rowlett, Texas native capped off his stay at LSU when he signed a free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after starting 129 games in 2006.

 

Stewart had a remarkable season, where he completed the year tied for the SEC lead in home runs (23) with Josh Morris of Georgia and finished No. 3 in the league in slugging percentage (.664).  He also finished at No. 5 in total bases (148) and tied the LSU single-game record with three homers vs. Stetson (March 11).

 

Most fans in 06 remember Stewart's big bat when he homered in five straight games. He was notably a fan favorite and consistently delivered in the clutch with a big hit. He finished No. 2 in the nation in homers (23), trailing only James Madison's Kellen Kulbacki, who had 24 homers.

 

At the conclusion of the season, Stewart was honored with First-Team All-SEC, First-Team ABCA All-South Region and First-Team All-Louisiana selections.

 

StewarT now finds himself in Fairbanks, Alaska with the Alaska Goldpanners.

 

- Brennan David

 

 

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

 

 

Seimone Augustus

 

Seimone Augustus not only changed the face of women's basketball in Baton Rouge, but she changed the face of women's basketball across the nation. Augustus became a household name in women's basketball because of her skill and technique. But it was her dominance that landed her on a national stage.

 

No too many athletes can take over a game when need be, but Augustus could. She consistently set the tempo of the contest and played at a constant rate of hustle that arguably can not be matched.

 

She was as clutch as could be, and her defense was just as good as her offense. Everyone in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center could sense something special was happening when Augustus handled the ball.

 

Perhaps most impressive about Augustus was that she was the total package at guard.

 

It always says a lot when the hardest working player on the team is the best player on the team. Her style of work and play set the standard for the squad, a team that earned its third straight trip to the Final Four.

 

Because of all these efforts, Augustus was named the National Player of the Year in 2006 for a second year in a row. The senior from Baton Rouge was also named the 2006 SEC Player of the Year and a first team All-American by the AP.

 

She became the fourth player in LSU history to reach 2,000 career points and ended her career second at LSU in career points with 2,702. She also added 26 20-plus point games in 2006, adding to a 72 20-plus point games total.

 

The Capitol High graduate finished the season as the NCAA scoring leader with 22.7 points per game while also placing 21st in field goal percentage in the nation. On Feb 16, she scored a career-high 35 points at Florida in their only regular season conference lose of the year.

 

Augustus excelled off the court as well. She graduated in August of 2005 with a general studies degree and after taking 15 hours this past fall is three hours shy of earning a second degree in business.

 

Following the conclusion of her season when the Lady Tigers fell again in the Final Four for the third time, this time against Duke, Augustus was selected as the first overall pick of the 2006 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx. 

 

She then joined the 2006 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team at the Opals World Challenge in Australia following the WNBA draft.

 

Now as a professional, Augustus' game has no limit. She now has one responsibility, which is to eat, sleep and dream basketball. No more late night studying or early classes to attend. Her game has the chance to move to a level that has never been seen before in women's basketball.

 

She could be like Mike.

 

 

RUNNERS UP:

 

April Burkholder, Gymnastics

Not too many gymnasts come through Baton Rouge and get a day named after themselves. May 10, 2006 was proclaimed April Burkholder Day by Mayor Kip Holden and the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council in honor of her efforts and skill she displayed at LSU over the past four years.

 

Burkholder concluded an incredible career at LSU in 2006 and leaves the school as the most decorated gymnast in Tiger history. She capped off her senior season with her best performance at the NCAA Championships where she grabbed the NCAA beam title and earned first-team All-America honors on each of her four events and in the all-around.

 

She eventually left her most successful night of her career also placing third in the all-around standings and placed among the top eight on the vault, bars and floor.

 

The Houston native left her stamp on the LSU record books. She owns the school's all-around record (39.875) and shares the school record marks on the vault, beam and floor, having posted perfect 10.0s on each of the three events.

 

Burkholder also turned in a solid academic career while at LSU as she was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2005, graduating in 2006 with a degree in general studies.

 

 

Leslie Klein, Softball

Leslie Klein returned to her freshman form in 2006, earning All-American honors for the second time of her career. In 2004, the outfielder became the first Lady Tiger to earn All-American honors as a freshman. The next fall, she tore her ACL, an injury that cost her a lack luster 2005 season.

 

But in 2006, Klein was back. She ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, RBIs, doubles, triples, total bases and stolen bases. The junior from Sunrise, Fla., hit .396 for the season with 14 doubles and led the team with four triples, nine home runs and 53 stolen bases. In addition, she recorded 18 stolen bases and did not post an error in 87 attempts in center field.

 

She was a Top 25 Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, and recorded a team-best 12-game hitting streak during the year, which is tied for seventh longest in LSU history. On 12 occasions, she knocked in the game winning runs, including wins over four nationally-ranked teams.

 

Klein is motivator and a hard worker who should go on to have an even better senior season in 2007. Klein will have her chance to shine in her senior season when she leads a squad that advanced to the Super Regional, which lost to the eventual national champions (Arizona Wildcats) and only lost four seniors.

 

 

Ivana Kuzmic, Volleyball

Ivana Kuzmic only played at LSU for two season, but she most certainly left her mark on the volleyball program.

 

The "Croatian Sensation" dominated the front net during the tail end of her collegiate career, and she did a fine job of it. A native of Spilt, Croatia, the 6-4 middle blocker had a great senior season.

 

She earned honorable mention All-American honors following her senior season and was a first-team All-SEC honoree. She was named the Louisiana Player of the Year and broke the LSU career record for blocks per game with a 1.65 mark in her two seasons with the Tigers.

 

She also broke the single-season record with a 1.71 mark, posted the third-most single-season blocks assists in school history with 160 and ranked second in the SEC and seventh in the NCAA with 1.71 blocks per game.

 

In her two seasons with the Tigers after transferring from Arkansas-Little Rock, she posted a total of eight double-figure blocking matches, including four in each season, becoming the first player to achieve that feat at LSU since the 1985-86 seasons.

 

Because of her efforts, Kuzmic and the Lady Tigers qualified for the NCAA Tournament and won the SEC Western Division title with a 21-8 overall record.  

 

 

Emily Turner

 

Emily Turner was untouchable in 2006, and it was her pitching that led the Lady Tigers to a 55-14 overall record and a appearance at the NCAA Super Regional.

 

She is unlike most softball players. She has a mother-daughter relationship with head coach Yvette Girouard, where the pair pushes and pulls from each other throughout the season.

 

As a junior, Turner was named USA Softball National Player of the Week on April 18. She was a third-team NFCA All-American and first-team All-SEC selection, while also being named to the SEC All-Tournament team.

 

The Chula Vista, Calif. native compiled a 28-9 overall record with a 0.93 earned run average, and ranked ninth in the NCAA in earned run average and 14th in wins. In addition, she ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in wins, ERA, saves, strikeouts, strikeouts looking, opponent's batting average, innings pitched and games started.

 

She posted a 14-7 record against nationally ranked teams, and was named Louisiana Pitcher of the Year. She did the unthinkable when she knocked off 2006 National Champion Arizona in the NCAA Super Regional, one of only three pitchers to defeat the Wildcats at home this season.

 

- Brennan David

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