Basketball Anyone….Anyone??? – From the Bird’s Nest
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns have some big games coming up as the 2011-12 basketball season enters the home stretch.
Three of the next four games are at home and all are against Western Division opponents. Two of the three games are against teams either tied or ahead of the Cajuns in the standings and the third is against a team that beat the Cajuns earlier this season.
But the question is, has anyone noticed? And, does anyone care?
Last year, after a 3-14 start, the Cajuns rattled off eleven straight wins. And, the fans noticed. The Cajuns drew 5,600 fans for reunion weekend against Louisiana-Monroe and crowds continued to increase, culminating in over 8,000 for the home finale against Denver. The great finish meant a solid increase in season ticket sales for the 2011-12 season.
But, for some reason, crowds have been thin at the Cajundome this year.
The Cajuns have yet to crack 4,000 in attendance this season. Their average attendance is 4th in the Sun Belt in all games, 5th in conference games. Louisiana is averaging just over 3,400 fans. But actual attendance hasn't even been that high. Many of those season ticket holders have shown up sporadically, if at all. And, those that have come must think they're at a Michael Buble' concert. In their last home game last Thursday, the Cajuns defeated North Texas in a close game that went down to the final seconds. But the crowd noise was barely evident.
I have no idea what the problem is. The Cajuns have a very good coach in Bob Marlin who has the Cajuns playing hard-nosed defense. Louisiana is in the top 30 in the nation in field goal percentage defense. And, even with ULM's hot shooting night figured in, opponents shoot just 27% from three point range in conference play, the league's best mark. This team plays hard...all the time. They've rebounded the ball extremely well most nights. They're shooting a decent percentage.
And no one has noticed.
And, it's not like they don't win at home. The Cajuns are 8-2 at the Cajundome this year. And, over the last three seasons, Louisiana is 19-2 against conference foes at home. It's been nearly three years since the Cajuns last lost to a division foe at home.
This coach deserves better. These players deserve better. This University deserves better.
Seven games remaining. Four of them at home.
We're about to find out if the fans of Acadiana are noticing that this team is, once again, in the thick of things for a division title......or if they have to go on a long winning streak for anyone to care.