Brian Beshara's mission this season, should he choose to accept it, is to take over where All-America Stromile Swift left off.
Swift, LSU's top player from a year ago who averaged 16.1 points per game, is now playing for the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies. So Beshara becomes LSU's top dog -- make that top Tiger -- this year.
Beshara is not afraid to take on new challenges. After playing at Rice University his freshman season, the versatile forward sought a better basketbalopportunity and transferred to LSU.
"I just didn't like Rice," Beshara said. "It wasn't a good situation for me and I just didn't see the program going anywhere. I had a couple other options but I wanted to play in the SEC and I wanted to challenge myself. I figured if I could play well in the SEC, one of the best conferences in the country ... probably the best, then I could play anywhere."
During his first season with the Tigers, Beshara averaged 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Last year, as a junior, he matched his 11.0-point average and grabbed 5.1 rebounds per game. Beshara, the Tigers' leading returning scorer and rebounder, must increase his production this season if he is to fill the void left by Swift's 16.2 points per game. His coach, John Brady, feels that Beshara can do just that.
"Brian Beshara is a good basketball player," Brady says. "He's tough. He's competitive. He believes in what he's doing. If he thinks he's right, he'll challenge the coach, and there's nothing wrong with that. Because I can coach guys who will compete. I will coach guys who will fight."
-- Jimmy Traina