UL Women Open Season On Monday
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball team opens the season for the second consecutive year inside the Cajundome on Monday, Nov. 15 when it hosts the LSU-Shreveport Lady Pilots. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
Louisiana is coming off of a 9-22 record from the 2009-10 season -- the best finish during Head Coach Errol Rogers' tenure.
Rogers enters his fourth season at the helm of the women's basketball program and there will be a couple of new faces joining him. Lori Morris will return for her third season as an assistant coach, while Nic Jeffers and Jaye Nayreau will enter their first seasons at Louisiana.
Jeffers was previously the girls' basketball head coach at Comeaux High School in Lafayette. Nayreau spent the 2009-10 season as an assistant at Southern Miss.
The Ragin' Cajuns have nine letterwinners returning from a year ago and all five projected starters had significant experience last season.
"Our competition has been so much better," said Rogers. "We have been very excited about the way this team has been practicing. Their attitudes have been great."
Leading the way for UL is preseason All-Sun Belt selection Mercedes Johnson. Johnson, a junior from Houston, averaged a team-best 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game a year ago. She posted four double-doubles during her sophomore campaign and reached double-digit scoring in 23 contests. The power forward led Louisiana with 55 steals and 12 blocked shots last season.
Jasmine Barnes is the only projected UL starter to start in all 31 contests last season. She contributed 9.3 points, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals per contest. Barnes, a senior guard from Baton Rouge, grabbed 144 rebounds last season, which ranked third on the team.
Senior Lyndra Bell will fill the other slot at forward. Bell averaged 3.6 points per game in 31 contests last season. Junior Michelle Brunker will fill a guard slot as she averaged 9.9 minutes per game in 2009-10. Starting at the point guard slot will be junior Nicole Morris. Last season, Morris averaged 4.5 steals per game with 3.2 rebounds per contest.
D'Mya Clay, Josie West, Krystal Motley and Brandi Schambough all possess a veteran prescence off the bench for the Cajuns.
Louisiana welcomes five newcomers this season, four of which come from the junior college ranks. Olivia Nino, Danyell Oliver, Kemi Rotibi and Danielle Smith all played in junior college last season. Bianca Davis is the lone freshman for Louisiana this season.
"When you have three or four student-athletes that can pull up and make a shot or take it to the rim, then that makes a big difference," said Rogers. "In the past, we had Alexis Green or Mercedes Johnson. Now, we don't have to depend on just one or two people."
The Cajuns will face LSU-Shreveport in their first regular season meeting with the Lady Pilots since Dec. 9, 2007. UL upended the Lady Pilots 63-40 at the Cajundome in that contest. Louisiana edged LSU-Shreveport in an exhibition last season, 65-63.
The Lady Pilots (3-2), a member of the NAIA's Red River Athletic Conference, have won their last two contests. On Saturday, LSUS defeated Central Baptist College 71-46 at the SAGU Classic. LSUS manhandled Dallas Christian College 70-33 on Friday evening. Sharday Cotton had 17 points in the victory for the Lady Pilots. Cotton leads LSU Shreveport, averaging 14.8 points per game.