Ragin’ Cajuns Giving Long One Last Shot In CIT
Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but their season isn’t over yet.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi comes to Lafayette this Wednesday (7:00 pm) to play in the College Insider Tournament (CIT), but some fans aren’t too keen on the competition level. With several seniors on the roster, Cajun Nation might have expected a bid to the NCAA Tournament, or even the NIT, but the selection committees didn’t show much love to the “little guys.”
Head Coach Bob Marlin wasn’t very pleased with the national favoritism toward the power conferences, but he will take any chance to get his guys on the floor. The CIT, CBI or other tournaments might not be the big dance, but they’re still a chance to hit the floor and make a move.
“They give you an opportunity to continue to play, just like in football you have the major bowls [and] the other bowls that reward teams that have good years,” Marlin said.
In terms of competition, they welcome a Corpus Christi team into town that only lost seven games (25-7 overall) all season. They finished second in their conference, behind Stephen F. Austin (a sleeper pick for an upset in the NCAA Tournament), and they pose the Cajuns a legitimate threat.
Marlin is familiar with their Head Coach, Willis Wilson, as well. When Marlin was at Sam Houston State, he worked with Willis at Rice University, and he kept tabs on his current progress with a Corpus Christi program that needed some help.
“They took over an APR nightmare and worked to get out of it,” Marlin said about Willis’ staff at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. “They won six games, six games, eighteen, twenty and twenty-five.”
It will be Willis’ task to scheme a way to slow down Shawn Long, who posted some career numbers in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Marlin said Long “went to New Orleans on a mission,” and he posted a career-high 34 points in his first game. His “mind-boggling” stats, as Marlin puts it, are already in lofty historical territory, but Cajun fans should relish any extra opportunity they get to see the big man play. Simply put, he’s one of the best players to ever suit up for UL, and any game could be his last now.
Clearly, everybody involved wanted to give Shawn another taste of the big show. For his last hurrah, he will have to settle on being one of the biggest headlines in a smaller setting.
“I’m disappointed that he’s not on the big stage again. He played very well against Creighton in San Antonio a couple years ago, even though he was in foul trouble, Marlin said. “I wish he could have played in the NCAA Tournament again, but I’m excited he’s still going to get an opportunity to play in the CIT.”
The best part about the CIT, for fans, is the home berth. There’s really no excuse to not see Long’s last few games in Lafayette.
Savor the season while it still lasts. The saying goes, “You don’t miss what you have until it’s gone.” When college basketball season is over, and Long’s time is up, you will miss the sound of the hardwood. Soak it in.