Vastly Improved UL Women’s Basketball Has A Big One Saturday Against Troy
Don't look now, but Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball team is tied for second place in the Sun Belt Conference standings, just one-half game behind first place Arkansas St.
The UL women currently stand at 10-5, overall, and 3-1 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Sure, there's still a lot of basketball left in the season, and while it's true that they're only one-half game out of the top spot, it's also true that they're only one game above the seventh place team.
You get the point; there's so much left to be determined.
That being said, this has to be a fun time for Louisiana fans, who saw their team win only three conference games all of last year, while going 10-21, overall.
Think about that for a second;..there's 14 regular season games remaining, plus the conference tournament, and the Cajuns have already equaled their win totals, both overall, and in Sun Belt Conference play, from all of last year.
To even further spotlight the improvement, Louisiana got off to the great start without the services of starting point guard Kia Wilridge for most of the first half of the season. Wilridge, UL's best on-the-ball defender, missed the first eight games of the year, and has still only started two, while recovering form a shoulder injury.
There are a couple of reasons why Louisiana is vastly improved this year:
1)---Experience---Many suspected this year's sophomore class, featuring Wilridge, Sylvana, Okde, Brooklyn Arceneaux, Keke Veal, Adrienne Prejean, and Jasmine Mills to take a step forward this year, and they have. Veal, Okde, and Wilridge are the three top scorers, averaging 11.9, 11.3, and 7.7 points a game, respectively, while Mills and Prejean pace the team in rebounding, at 6.3 and 4.1, respectively, and Arceneaux just scored a career-high 19 points in a 65-60 win over South Alabama.
2)---The Ability To Win On The Road---Louisiana is 2-0 on the road in conference, and have currently won three-straight on the road, overall. The hardest thing to do in sports, team-wise, is to win on the road in college basketball, and this team has taken a huge step in that direction so far this year
This sets up a big game Saturday afternoon, in Troy, Alabama, against the Troy Trojans.
If the Cajuns can come away with a victory, they would move to 4-1 in league play, with three of the wins coming on the road.
Even better, they would have three of the next four at home.
Again, there's a lot to be decided this year, but a win over Troy would really put the Cajuns in a nice situation.
Troy is struggling. They've lost eight-straight, and 10 of 11, to put them at 4-12, overall, and 0-5 in league play. But the game is on the road, and Troy is a difficult place to play. Besides, the Trojans, who were good enough to being SEC member Alabama into overtime earlier this year, are probably better than their record would indicate, and are hungry, as well as overdue, for a win.
This Louisiana team is still young, and will suffer some growing pains, mostly due to inconsistency, but we're beginning to see why the future is so bright, and why so many people were excited about Garry Brodhead and his staff coming aboard prior to last season.
They're a lot better than they were, but not as good as they're gonna be.
The rebuilding process continues, and they can't take anything for granted. We saw that in the last home-stand, when they lost to Texas St., and survived UT-Arlington, a team with only one win on the year, by two points.
I hate to sound like a coach, but I'm truly convinced that the UL women can win every game remaining on their schedule, but loss all of them as well.
Obviously, chances are it will be somewhere in between, with a couple of games being big swing games, and Saturday's game against Troy looks to be one of those.
How about this: with a win on Saturday, this Louisiana team would improve their road win streak to four games, and move to 3-0 in conference play on the road. Now, compare that to the 2006-2007 team, which went to the NCAA Tournament, as an at-large team. Yeah, that team, the one that went 27-9. That team's longest road win streak in conference was three games that year.
This year's team can equal that with a win on Saturday, and that's awfully impressive.
As a matter of fact, a win against Troy would mark only the second time since joining the Sun Belt Conference that the Cajuns would have won three-straight on the road in conference play, and the first time ever that they'd open the year 3-0 on the road in league play.
A loss certainly wouldn't be the end of the world, but a win would be yet another big step, and give them an opportunity to do some things that the program has never done.
Yeah, the future looks bright, but the present isn't so bad either.