Why LSU women’s team drew rings on their fingers in Sharpie before Elite Eight game. An idea that has been cherished for a long time!

LSU women's basketball team
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Sharpie rings were the jewel of the evening for LSU on Sunday in their Elite Eight matchup against Miami.

Each player and staff member inked a ring on one of their fingers with black marker, showing off what exactly they were fighting for.

Now, with another NCAA Tournament victory in the rearview mirror, they’re still fighting for the real thing, the one thing every team that enters March Madness hopes to wear.

The rings got attention when Sa’Myah Smith redid Angel Reese’s during a late fourth-quarter timeout. Reese stood on the sideline with Smith, holding out her left hand to get the touchup.

Here’s what the symbolic gesture meant in the eyes of the Tigers:

Why did LSU wear Sharpie rings in the Elite Eight?

The idea came from LSU associate head coach Bob Starkey, according to Just Women’s Sports.

Starkey had been an assistant coach to Gary Blair at Texas A&M. In 2013, during his second season in College Station, he had seen Blair use the same tactic to inspire his team in the SEC Tournament.

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Blair had called it a placeholder until they could wear the real rings. And they did, eventually winning their first conference and NCAA titles.

According to The Athletic, when head coach Kim Mulkey was almost finished with her pregame talk Sunday, Starkey took the initiative and interrupted. The discussion quickly changed from the team’s need to fulfill its five ideals to its end goal.

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“I said, ‘This is just the loaner for now, but I want you to remember what you’re playing for,'” Starkey said. “‘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.'”

His idea paid off. Reese celebrated certain shots and plays by pointing to her ring.

“This is what you’re built for,” Reese said. “This is what we want.”

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