Marlin’s Ragin’ Cajuns ‘Disappointed But Not Discouraged’ [VIDEO]
Bob Marlin's Ragin' Cajuns are on a three game skid, but their calm remains despite an increasingly unkind storm.
A few games ago, the Cajuns were riding high on a nine game win streak. In the matter of two weeks, they find themselves on the opposite swing of momentum's pendulum. A tough loss to Little Rock at home rolled into an overtime loss to UT-Arlington, and things snowballed against Texas State.
The loss to Texas State tied the team's lowest point total all season, which is a rough drop from their recent heights of success.
"We went five weeks without losing a basketball game, then we lost three in a week," Marlin said. "Things change in a hurry in the standings."
Marlin is no fool. He realizes the Warhawks reached up and stole their two seed for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, and he knows that giving ULM any advantage is a cardinal sin to the fan base. He also realizes they left too many points at the charity stripe in their recent losses.
Shawn Long and his teammates shot the ball well at practice, but they missed 25 free throws in their two losses in the state of Texas (17-29, 17-30). It doesn't matter how good the shooting stroke looks in an empty gym, and Long's 10-23 performance from the line is a glaring offensive issue on a team that is struggling to hit shots from the outside.
Hard truths are difficult to ingest, but they're often the best way to finding a way to fix problems. Losses at the end of the season in conference play hurt, but Marlin doesn't have time to watch the bleeding with only four games left before the tournament.
"We had a golden opportunity on Thursday night to help ourselves and then to maintain on Saturday, and we didn't do that," Marlin acknowledged. This is a low point of the season, but the team isn't defeated, "They're disappointed but not discouraged."
The Ragin' Cajuns will try to get the cart back on the path against Troy this Thursday, and Marlin said it's going to be a revenge match.
Earlier this season, Marlin's men handed Troy a 88-65 blowout at the Cajundome. The Cajuns held the Trojans to 25 percent shooting, and they shot over 50 percent themselves. Shawn Long always has a target on his back, and Troy surely wants to hold him under the 20 point-14 rebound total he tallied the first time around. The only difference this time around is the Cajuns will have to do it with one less player.
The team announced this Monday that forward Jay Hedgeman is suspended for the rest of the season for "conduct detrimental to the team." He played over ten minutes a game in Marlin's rotation, but he's not batting an eye at the decision he made. Improvement by subtraction is necessary sometimes.
"He wasn't really giving us production on the court so I think we will get by," Marlin said.
A few players will see a slight bump in their minutes to fill in for Hedgeman's time, and Johnathan Stove will be asked to continue stepping up offensively.
The Cajuns still have a chance to head into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with a four game winning streak. The season's script flipped on them late in the year, now it's their job to turn the page again.