By Trey Mongrue
In his prior 44 games at LSU, Tim Quarterman never came close to registering a double-double. So it was okay for him to joke about narrowly missing a triple-double in the Tigers’ 82-67 win over Southern Miss last week.
The sophomore guard did indeed hit double digits in points and rebounds for the first time in his collegiate career, but was just four assists away from doing something few have ever done in an LSU basketball jersey.
“That’s just Mick (Jordan Mickey) and Rell (Jarell Martin) missing layups,” deadpanned Quarterman, who finished with six assists, 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in LSU’s win over the Golden Eagles.
“I could’ve had 10 assists, but they just can’t finish around the basket.”
Quarterman and the rest of his Tiger teammates can afford the banter with one another right now. With Southeastern Conference play beginning this Thursday at Missouri, LSU is sitting pretty with an 11-2 record and is in the midst of an eight game winning streak – the longest since the 2008-09 season.
Much of that early success can be attributed to Quarterman and his ability to make an impact in many different facets of each game.
“I just don’t go into games and focus on one thing,” he explained. “I just go in and try to do whatever, whether that is on defense or offense doesn’t really matter to me.”
Whether it is as a point guard or on the wing, Quarterman has clearly taken that role to heart.
He is one of four Tigers that are averaging more than 10 points per game, while also second on the team in assists with 3.5 per game. His 5.8 rebound average is the most of any backcourt player on the roster, and his 6-foot-6 frame makes him a dangerous on-ball defender.
When he is on the court, LSU is at its strongest. In the combined 67 minutes that Quarterman has been on the court in the last two games against Southern Miss and Savannah State last Saturday, the Tigers have posted a plus-70 point margin.
“He has been more effective offensively,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said of Quarterman. “He can hit open shots, and he has been a creator, getting opportunities for others on the floor.”
“I just go in and try to do whatever, whether that is on defense or offense doesn’t really matter to me.”
– LSU guard Tim Quarterman
– LSU guard Tim Quarterman
While those numbers alone are nice, the importance is magnified that much more because Quarterman is doing it off the bench and providing depth to a team that entered this season not knowing where production outside of the starting five was going to come from.
And even when he is needed to jump in as a starter, like he did a couple of weeks ago when Josh Gray was sidelined with an ankle injury, his level of play does not change.
“He knows that he is going to be out there on the floor,” Jones said. “He’s familiar with what we are doing and everything that has been implemented for him”
What Quarterman is doing right now was what Jones expected when he brought him to LSU from Johnson High School in Savannah, Ga. two years ago. Having started at point guard in LSU’s lone exhibition game last season, Jones showed a lot of trust in the then-freshman’s abilities.
However, as the 2013-14 season went on, he experienced some struggles on the offensive end, averaging a little over a made basket per game – including nine outings where he failed to register a single point.
He went back home to Savannah in the offseason with one thing on his mind: get better.
“It all plays a part,” said Quarterman. “Just going back home to my family and spending time with them to working out in the gym three or four times a day. It was all hard work and dedication.”
When he came back to Baton Rouge, that work ethic continued with his best friend on the team.
“He put in a lot of work,” Martin recalled. “Me and him were in the gym a lot over the summer. Even after the scheduled workouts, we’d come in at night to do a lot of drills and just put in some work.”
The work has certainly paid off.
And now, as LSU embarks on conference play with its NCAA Tournament aspirations still well intact, Quarterman does not plan on letting up any time soon.
“I think we are a very confident team,” he said. “We are a family and we always come together and help carry each other to the finish line.”