LSU flew the flag on Thursday night as they faced a deficit at home against No. 9 Virginia Tech but ended up devouring the Hokies with an impressive 82-64 victory. This game marked a significant moment for LSU, as it was head coach Kim Mulkey’s 700th career victory and the return of Final Four Most Outstanding Player Angel Reese after being benched for four games.
Reese had a stellar performance in her comeback, scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds on 50 percent shooting. She was instrumental in the team’s victory, especially with her four first-quarter offensive boards. Another standout player was DePaul transfer Annesah Morrow, who also scored 19 points and contributed 15 rebounds.
The night was filled with celebration as Mulkey’s team dumped water on her as she entered the locker room, and Reese and Morrow bookended their coach while wearing “Kim Mulkey 700” shirts at the postgame podium. It was a perfect night for LSU, except for the absence of Kateri Poole, who has not been with the team for the last three games.
Despite Poole’s absence, LSU boasts a loaded roster with additions like Regional Finalist Louisville’s leading scorer Hailey Van Lith, Morrow, and true freshman standout Mikaylah Williams. The team still has stars like Reese and Poole, making them a formidable force in the 2023-24 season.
However, there have been rumors surrounding the absence of Reese and Poole, and Mulkey has refused to provide specific details about their absences. This has led to speculation and imaginations running wild about the reasons behind their extended time away from the team.
While Mulkey’s decision to protect her players’ privacy is commendable, it has also fueled social media speculation and rumors. In today’s age, where social networks can quickly spread misinformation, Mulkey could have taken steps to address some of the speculation surrounding Reese’s absence, especially if it involved mental health issues.
Protecting players extends beyond physical well-being; mental health is equally important. If Reese was dealing with mental health issues, Mulkey could have put a stop to rumors suggesting her absence was due to disciplinary reasons. While the public is not entitled to know about college athletes’ personal problems, providing some clarity could have eased the social media speculation.
Coaches have an obligation to protect their players, and in worst-case scenarios, alleged victims. They don’t owe the public detailed explanations about player discipline. However, in this case, the lack of information surrounding the extended absences of Reese and Poole, coupled with Reese’s celebratory return, leaves room for ambiguity and unanswered questions.
It’s essential for coaches to strike a balance between protecting their players’ privacy and addressing concerns to avoid unnecessary speculation. Mulkey’s non-inclination to divulge information may not stop the posts and rumors, but it could have helped mitigate some of the social media frenzy.
Ultimately, the focus should be on the team’s success and the impressive victory against Virginia Tech. LSU has assembled an all-world team with a strong core of returning players and top transfer portal and freshman talent. The Tigers are poised for a successful season, but the lingering questions surrounding Reese and Poole’s absences continue to cast a shadow over the team.
As the season progresses, it is hoped that LSU can find resolution and clarity regarding the absences of these key players. Until then, the team will have to navigate the challenges and maintain their focus on their quest for success.