Ragin’ Cajuns Going Back To Square One
Ragin' Cajuns Womens Basketball is in the grips of a three game losing streak, and Garry Brodhead is turning back the clock to fix it.
What are the two things Brodhead built his program on? Defense and toughness. They're like the binary star of the Cajun constellation. They're so closely intertwined it's hard to tell the two traits apart. When one starts to wane, the other gets exposed and the light dims. Brodhead wants his team to shine heading into the Sun Belt Tournament, not flicker and burn out before their time.
In his weekly press conference (video below), Brodhead said his team needs to "go back to square one" with their toughness. They received a lot of pats on the back for a hot start to the season, but some potholes in the road currently have the Cajuns riding on a bit of a flat tire.
Some coaches would hit the panic button in this situation, but Brodhead's players are familiar with the fight. They went through the same issues last season.
"I went down the schedule, and I looked at when we started losing, and it was right at this time," Brodhead said. He added, "A lot of the times, our teams play well when their backs are against the wall."
Last season, the Cajuns ended the regular season with a lukewarm 10-10 record in Sun Belt play...then heated up and won their first postseason tournament in the CBI.
This year's squad faces a different version of adversity, but they still have the same hearts pounding in their chests. Jaylyn Gordon's indefinite suspension from the team threw a haze of chaos over Brodhead's meticulously crafted masterpiece, but it's his job to push through the fog and find the promised land.
Brodhead said he's not getting worried yet. Players feed off their coaches, and he isn't letting his troops see the general retreat.
"We got to learn how to finish and we'll get there," Brodhead said with his classic Cajun accent. Later, with a smile, he said, "I came out of practice [today], and I knew: I have a championship team."
Coach speak can be nauseating, but Brodhead provided some real X's and O's solutions to hold onto as well.
Since losing Gordon's scoring punch, the Cajuns have relied on Keke Veal and Kia Wilridge's production heavily...probably too heavily at times. In their loss to Arkansas State, Wilridge and Veal missed the majority of the fourth quarter due to foul trouble. The game was close all the way up to that point, but when Veal fouled out, A-State pulled away.
Brodhead desperately needs his two star guards to stay on the floor. It's not as simple as it sounds though.
Veal and Wilridge are both max energy, high intensity players. Telling them to turn the dial back a few notches is a difficult task. Brodhead said his staff tries to coach them from the bench, reminding them to stop reaching or to go to the jump stop in the lane to avoid a charge call. When your default setting is at 100 mph, even slowing down can't do the trick.
"That's something that they need to be a little smarter about. They're aggressive players, so it's difficult for them not to be aggressive," Brodhead said.
Opposing teams are sure to continue attacking Veal and Wilridge to get them in foul trouble, so the two biggest cogs in the Cajun machine need to adjust their games.
Six games remain on the schedule before the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. After starting the season at a sprint, the Cajuns are faced with hurdles to clear. If they keep their heads down and eyes forward, they might not get tripped up.
(Watch Coach Brodhead's full press conference in the video below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more interviews and entertaining series)