09 Jan

LSU’s Angel Reese, Kateri Poole not at the Cayman Islands Classic with the team

LSU Tigers forward Angel Reese and guard Kateri Poole do not appear to have traveled with the team at the Cayman Islands Classic this weekend. Both players missed the Tigers’ 99-65 win over Niagara on Friday.

The team will be taking on Virginia on Saturday, and if Reese doesn’t show up she will have missed four games this season for undisclosed reasons. Friday was the first game Poole hasn’t at least been on the bench. LSU has yet to comment on their absence from this trip.

While it is still unclear what is going on, the saga started against Kent State on Nov. 14. The Golden Flashes have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2002, yet the Tigers — the defending national champions — were only able to find a two-point lead by halftime. Reese, a consistent starter since last season, was benched for the last two quarters. Meanwhile, Poole was present but did not check into the game. LSU ended up winning that one 109-79, and head coach Kim Mulkey said after the game she had simply made a “coach’s decision” regarding Reese.

However, Reese was not in the building when LSU took on Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 17 or Texas Southern on Nov. 20. Poole didn’t play in the latter game either.

Mulkey has not explained much on the situation, and the only possible clue came during the press conference after the Texas Southern game when she said coaches, “always have to deal with locker room issues.”

“I’m going to protect my players, always. It’s like a family. If you do some disciplining of your own children, do you think we’re entitled to know that? That’s a family in that locker room,” she said that night.

The team has plenty of depth, but the Tigers could still be in danger of being short-staffed as starting forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to suffer a knee injury during the first quarter against Niagara.

LSU will be back on the court on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET as the Tigers take on the Virginia Cavaliers.

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