LSU women's basketball practice observations. Notes on Flau'jae Johnson, Angel Reese, more

LSU women's basketball, less than five months removed from capturing its first NCAA championship knocking off Iowa back in April, held its first official practice Monday for the highly anticipated 2023-24 season.

Several hundred LSU fans caught the team's first practice, desperately wanting to see esteemed and beloved coach Kim Mulkey coaching the trio of cemented Tigers star Angel Reese alongside big-name newcomers Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow for the first time.

The Tigers, who beat women's college basketball star Caitlin Clark and Iowa 102-85 to cap last season, are expected to the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

With the season opener against Colorado in Las Vegas Nov. 6 on the horizon, here's what we observed during LSU's opening practice:

Hailey Van Lith looks comfortable with LSU women's basketball

She's only been in Baton Rouge a couple of months. But watching her operate with her set of teammates, transferring in after spending four years at Louisville, Van Lith flaunted plenty of ease and comfortability.

Van Lith ran mostly at LSU's point guard position where she flashed her infamous passing ability. She did run plenty of drills at the wing as well while Kateri Poole or Last-Tear Poa was in at guard.

When Mulkey looked for players, Van Lith inserted herself into rebounding or weave drills, showing her assertiveness.

How Angel Reese, Aneesah Morrow playing off one another

Some of the talk swirling around Reese and DePaul transfer Aneesah Morrow being on the floor at the same time has been each getting in the way of each other for rebounds.

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From what was seen during the first practice, there weren't many instances of the two double-double machines fighting over the same real estate. Both communicated well on both ends of the floor. And Morrow's ability to play multiple levels brings an added dimension to the team, especially offensively.

Flau'jae Johnson nursing ankle sprain

It didn't slow her down much, but sophomore sensation Flau'jae Johnson was hampered by an ankle injury Monday.

She was the last to emerge from the tunnel before practice. She hit drills hard at the beginning, but was held out of participating in most of the full-court the team worked through.

The injury is not expected to cause her to miss any time.

Mikaylah Williams, Sa'Myah Smith have gotten bigger

Since reporting for her freshman season, MiKaylah Williams has already filled out some. The former consensus No. 2 recruit is a bit of a unicorn because of her size at her position. Coupled with her skillset and Williams, who projects to be a day one starter for LSU, the position has gotten stronger and that will only help LSU.

Sophomore forward Sa'Myah Smith struggled at times last season with her lack of size in the paint. And you can tell that was one of her main focal points over the offseason as she bulked up. Her on-the-court looked fluid and smooth as well. Expect Smith to get plenty of minutes in 2023-24.

Cory Diaz covers the LSU Tigers and Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns for The Daily Advertiser as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his Tigers and Cajuns coverage on Twitter: @ByCoryDiaz. Got questions regarding LSU/UL athletics? Send them to Cory Diaz at

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