When LSU competed Sunday in the Elite Eight, each player and staff member wore a ring inked on one of their fingers with black marker as a reminder of the end goal.
With a win against Miami, the third-seeded Tigers advanced to the Final Four in Dallas, where they’ll compete for the real thing: a championship ring.
“This is what you’re built for,” star sophomore Angel Reese said of what the marks represented. “This is what we want.”
The rings garnered attention when, during a timeout late in the fourth quarter, Reese held out her left hand to teammate Sa’Myah Smith. Smith used a marker to re-ink the ring for Reese.
Sa'Myah Smith drew a ring on Angel Reese's finger as LSU was moments away from advancing to the Final Four 👀 pic.twitter.com/uLqOliQ344— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) March 27, 2023
Sa'Myah Smith drew a ring on Angel Reese's finger as LSU was moments away from advancing to the Final Four 👀 pic.twitter.com/uLqOliQ344
The idea, though, came from associate head coach Bob Starkey. As the assistant coach to Gary Blair at Texas A&M in 2013, he had seen Blair use a similar tactic to inspire his team in its conference tournament. The Aggies went on to win their first SEC tournament title.
So during LSU’s pregame talk, he used a Sharpie to draw a ring on the hand of every team member, The Athletic’s Chantel Jennings reported.
“I said, ‘This is just the loaner for now, but I want you to remember what you’re playing for,’” Starkey told The Athletic. “‘If you get tired, if you get frustrated, you get a bad call or you miss a shot, I want you to look down there and remember what’s in front of us.’”
Starkey’s idea paid off. Reese pointed to her ring several times throughout the game in celebration, and the Tigers have bought into their potential as they prepare to compete in the Final Four on Friday.
“I’m heading to Dallas,” senior guard Alexis Morris said after Sunday’s win. “I’m ending my senior night where I wanted it to be. Hopefully we can go cut nets in Dallas.”