LAFAYETTE — Before the season, Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin said one of the challenges he faced was figuring out the best way to rotate a deep roster in and out of the game.
Ten games in, that is still a work in progress.
“We’ll continue to explore matchups, situations and put the guys that’ll fit that exact game, for the most part,” Marlin said.
There’s no definitive way to approach it, Marlin said. Right now, the Ragin’ Cajuns are handling it on a week-to-week, game-to-game and sometimes half-to-half basis.
Take Monday’s game against UNO. Marlin started Jay Hedgeman at the power forward (four) spot to start the second half, but he yanked Hedgeman after he was beaten by a straight-on dribble drive.
“He never saw the court again,” Marlin said. “He probably could’ve played in the second half, but I felt like Johnathan (Stove) was doing a better job. When Shawn (Long) entered the game, we put Bryce (Washington) back at the four and felt like we were holding down the fort there.”
Marlin’s rotation, on Monday, was determined less by the matchup and more by the hot hand. And that has more often than not been the case this season.
To log minutes for this year’s team, players have had to earn them by being successful in practice and in games.
Through 10 games, the Cajuns have used seven different starting lineups, which sounds like a lot until you consider that Marlin doesn’t put much stock in starting lineups.
The more accurate picture is painted by minutes played, which shows the Cajuns have 10 players averaging 12.5 or more minutes — and four averaging more than 20.
Those minutes have shifted depending on performance. After starting the year in an awful slump, guard Hayward Register saw his minutes slashed until he started showing signs of breaking out of it. Guard Kasey Shepherd has seen his playing time rise and fall and rise again roughly in concert with his shooting percentage.
The only constants so far have been Long, Stove and point guard Jay Wright, and even they’re not immune to needing to earn their minutes.
Long sat the entire first half against UNO — his first healthy scratch from a start since the 2012-13 season — after Marlin said his performance did not meet the coach’s standards in the Cajuns’ previous game at Pepperdine.
The way things are currently working, there may wind up being no set rotation this season, at least not in clearly defined terms. Marlin seems to have identified which of his players need to be on the floor; how much of it they see appears to be up to them.
“We’ll continue to work on the rotation,” Marlin said. “I think we’ll know who is going to play; it’ll just be a matter of the minutes that they get.”