The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: LSU

LSULSU is undoubtedly one of the most storied programs in quidditch. Along with A&M, they were one of the first two teams to develop in the Southwest, and were the only southwest team at World Cup II. Last season, LSU dominated at World Cup V, beating teams by very large point margins until they faced Minnesota during the Elite Eight and lost by a snitch grab. Over the years, LSU has racked up many tournament victories, but recently they have fallen behind some of the other Southwest powerhouses. While they may not have any tournament championship titles under their belt this season, they have still impressed with three finals appearances, two semifinals appearances, and a quarterfinals appearance at the most recent at the Southwest Regional Tournament.

Best Wins:

Worst Losses: vs. Austin Quidditch (90*-50, Feb. 2)

Key Players:  Kody LaBauve, or “Sniper” as he is known by his team and all his opponents in the Southwest, is one of the most experienced and well-rounded beaters in quidditch. LaBauve plays offensively helping clear paths for his chasers, which for many beaters can open up a lot of counterattacking risk, but LauBauve has the ability to always retrieve his bludger quickly and make very impressive defensive beats, shutting down many breakaways.

 

Team USA chaser selection Melissa White, who was unable to attend the Olympic exhibition matches, is still a game changing player for LSU. She is fully capable of driving the quaffle to the hoops herself for a score, as she is quick and much stronger than most people assume she is. She also frequently makes teams pay for leaving her open behind the hoops, where she will receive a clean pass without so much as a bobble and then score before her opponents realize the true threat. However, White has not consistently been on the roster for LSU this season, so it is up in the air as to whether or not she will attend World Cup VI.

Players to watch: The two players that did end up competing with Team USA, Brad Armentor and Sarah Kneiling, are both notable veterans on this team. Armentor is light on his feet with great field vision on the offensive. He is very adept at blocking bludgers, and he actively seeks to draw defenses to himself while leaving his teammates open for passes. Kneiling is primarily a defensive beater with a great arm and little hesistation. She acts as a strong anchor for the defense when she is the only one with a bludger.

Jake Smith is a very solid chaser who brings a lot of passion and athleticism to the table for LSU. He is aggressive on defense, where he is never afraid to lay out a tackle, and, on offense, he is a fantastic playmaker who is equally scrappy and composed, making him capable of facilitating a great passing game. If Smith can avoid racking up multiple cards, he will be a huge asset to the team.

Strategy: LSU typically focuses on a slow game designed to frustrate opponents that are much more accustomed to a faster pace. They bring up all of their players on offense, including at least one beater, and their runs begin as soon as their beater makes a move to bludge the top opposing beater. Every move LSU makes is very strategic due to their experience, and they always play to their advantages and display a lot of patience when attempting a score. Many times they will pass the ball back before attempting a difficult shot to instead reset play and not turn over the ball.

 

When defending, they use their size and strength to stop opponents before they reach the keeper zone or force passes with their aggressive beater game. After forcing a pass or a shot, the LSU beaters will then quickly beat the passing options to further encourage a turnover. Like on offense, LSU is patient and plays with the mindset of allowing their opponents to make a mistake before they do.

Strengths: Being such an experienced team in the quidditch world, LSU has developed a strong sense of adaptability. They have played a number of different teams from across the country and been exposed to various play styles that have allowed them to better utilize their strengths and expose their opponents’ weaknesses.

Weaknesses: LSU is very lacking in terms of depth and stamina. When their primary playmakers begin to face exhaustion after a number of games, their strategy begins to break down and open up gaps that other teams can easily exploit.

Prediction: Assuming LSU doesn’t face anymore injuries at the Cup, they should easily make it into the Sweet 16 thanks to their previous experiences at this high level of play.

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