WATCH: Bob Marlin Previews Ragin’ Cajuns Vs Pepperdine
The Ragin' Cajuns have one game left before the start of Sun Belt Conference play. What does Bob Marlin want his team to clean up in their final non-conference game?
Louisiana hosts Pepperdine in their final game before conference play begins, and the Ragin' Cajuns are enjoying their best start to a season since the 1993-94 season. For a team that was picked in the middle of the pack in the preseason Sun Belt poll, they're surprising a lot of people, but not their coach.
Marlin said before the season started that he believed the team had the best chemistry of any team he coached at Louisiana. Chemistry goes a long way, and he thinks its their biggest strength right now, especially on offense.
When he was asked what makes them click on offense, he said, "Playing together, sharing the basketball."
Senior leader Jay Wright has been a big part of the early success. He willed the Ragin' Cajuns to a win over UNO recently, and he's averaging a career high 13.8 points per game from the point guard position.
Wright is orchestrating the offense like a true leader, and he's making the right decisions with the ball in his hands.
"The last three games, Jay is thirteen to one in the assist to turnover ratio," Marlin pointed out proudly.
His play on the court is obviously top-notch, but his heart and determination is proving infectious too.
In the game against UNO, when the team was trailing in the second half, Wright told Marlin, "Coach, we’re not going to lose this game. I’m not going to let it happen." Marlin said that's basically Wright's mentality all the time.
"That's his spirit and his will and fortunately, his skill backed that up the other day," Marlin said.
Wright's leadership goes hand-in-hand with Bryce Washington's play in the post, where the Cajuns' big man is leading the Sun Belt in rebounding (12.0 rpg) and tied for the nation's lead in double-doubles (9).
Marlin said the biggest surprise this season has been freshman PJ Hardy's offensive spark. Hardy leads the team in three-point shooting percentage (47.6%) and is the fifth leading scorer (7.2 ppg). He's learning how to play the point guard position at the collegiate level from Wright, and his shooting has been a pleasant surprise.
Marlin also gave praise to fellow freshmen Justin Miller and Roydell Brown. Miller's natural ability to score the basketball (10.8 ppg) earned him a spot in the starting lineup, and Marlin said Brown's coming along nicely as an athletic addition off the bench.
Now, the Ragin' Cajuns face a well-rested Pepperdine team before heading into their Sun Belt schedule.
"They're coming in here after an eight, nine day layoff after exams, and they'll be ready to play," Marlin said.
A win over Pepperdine would help propel Louisiana into conference play with tons of momentum on their side, and Marlin hopes his team's play early this season earned them more support for the back half of the year.
A lot of football fans came to the Lakefront Arena to watch the game against UNO, and the Cajuns came away victorious in an entertaining game. Marlin hopes that convinced a few borderline fans to come back later, when they will need fan support to possibly punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
"We had an extra large contingent of fans there for the bowl game, and we want to get those folks back in Lakefront Arena for the Sun Belt Tournament," Marlin said.
Marlin's team is on pace for another 20 win season and turning some heads with their play, so don't miss your opportunity to see one of the best basketball teams in recent Louisiana history.