Marlin, Cajuns Open Season Friday Night
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball team opens play this weekend when they travel to San Francisco for the University of San Francisco Hilltop Challenge.
All three games can be heard this weekend on ESPN1420, espn1420.com and on radioPup, a free download for iphone and android phone users.
The Cajuns finished 14-15 a year ago, but ended the season on an eleven game winning streak before falling to Western Kentucky in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt basketball tournament.
The Cajuns return three starters from that squad, including junior point guard Raymone Andrews, the only player on the squad not recruited by Marlin. Also returning from last year's starting lineup are sophomore J. J. Thomas, who was named the team MVP a year ago, and senior Josh Brown, who missed eight games with a knee injury last season. The Cajuns were 0-8 in games Brown missed.
Sophomore guard Bryant Mbamalu, senior guard David Perez and senior forward Scottie Farrington also return from last year's squad. Walk-on Donovan Williams redshirted a year ago.
The Cajuns have some talented newcomers that will be asked to play major roles last year after the Cajuns lost leading rebounder Travis Bureau, team captain La'Ryan Gary and 1,000 point career scorer Randall Daigle, all of whom exhausted their eligibility.
Junior College transfers, center Kadeem Coleby, shooting guard Alan-Michael Thompson and combo guard Darnell Jackson should be immediate impact players, as should senior Darshawn McClellan, who transferred from Vanderbilt, where he played in 95 games during his career. Coleby is expected to start in the post.
Freshman Elfrid Payton, from John Ehret High in Marrero and Kentwan Smith, a forward from Piney Woods, MS, are also expected to see action.
The Cajuns open the season Friday night against Northern Arizona out of the Big Sky Conference. The Lumberjacks finished 19-13 last season and return three players who played significant minutes last season. NAU, under 12th year head coach Mike Adras, has a reputation for being an outstanding outside shooting team and were one of the nation's leaders from three point range a year ago under Adras' "recruit to shoot" motto. Gametime will be at 10:30 Friday night.
Saturday night, the Cajuns will face North Dakota State out of the Summit Conference. The Bison were 14-15 in 2010-11. Although they are a young squad, the Bison return five players who played a lot last year. Coach Saul Phillips' squad will have some experience both inside and outside. Gametime is 10:30 Saturday night.
The Cajuns' toughest test could come on Sunday when they face host San Francisco. Rex Walters, who the Cajuns faced when he coached at Florida Atlantic, coached the Dons to a 19-16 record, 10-4 in the always-tough West Coast Conference. The Dons lose their leading scorer, but return their two leading rebounders and three starters from last year's squad. Not known as a great outside shooting team, the Dons are known for their physical play and the Cajuns' frontcourt will be tested in this one. Gametime is 5:30 on Sunday.
The Cajuns will open their home schedule next weekend in the Beryl Shipley Classic. The Cajuns will face Houston Baptist on Friday and Cal State-Fullerton on Saturday. Both games will be at 7:30pm at the Cajundome. Sunday's game against Nicholls State will tip off at 3:30pm.