LAFAYETTE — A familiar yet out-of-place voice chimed in during the question-and-answer portion of UL-Lafayette men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin’s Monday news conference to preview the third round of the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
It was baseball coach Tony Robichaux, not asking a question but reminiscing to his days as a student-athlete, when he would watch the basketball team play in front of rowdy crowds at Blackham Coliseum.
The Cajuns — coaches, players and fans — will have every opportunity to be nostalgic this week. They will host Evansville at Blackham Coliseum, their home from 1950-85, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We are really excited to have the opportunity to play at Blackham Coliseum,” Marlin said. “It’s something we have wanted to do for a long time. We’ve heard a lot about what the homecourt advantage can be like there, and hopefully we have a great crowd there to cheer on our guys.”
The Cajuns will play at Blackham for the first time since the 2005-06 season, when they played their first five home games there because the Cajundome was used as a shelter for Hurricane Rita evacuees.
Its only basketball purpose lately has been as part of a joke that Marlin and his staff play on recruits during visits.
“We sell it in recruiting,” Marlin said. “We drive by there and we tell them, ‘Hey, this is where we play.’ They kind of look at us and we say, ‘No, we’re just kidding; it’s that big one back in the back.’ ”
While the return to Blackham was at the forefront of Robichaux’s mind, Marlin is just happy his young team survived another round in the postseason.
The Cajuns advanced to the third round when point guard Jay Wright’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer made the Cajuns 71-70 winners Saturday at Sam Houston State.
“It’s really about a basketball team and us getting better,” Marlin said. “Giving Bryce (Washington) a chance to score 25 points against Incarnate Word on the road, giving Jay a chance to go 7-of-10 and hit a game-winner against Sam Houston the other night. It’s about this team and playing.”
The Cajuns have won nine of their past 10, and a cast made up almost entirely of players who will return next season is gaining valuable late-season experience.
While playing at Blackham won’t be a true home game, Marlin said he hopes his team will be able to get in it by Wednesday to practice.
Evansville advanced by beating Eastern Illinois 83-68 on Monday night.
Tickets can be purchased through the Cajundome box office or at RaginCajuns.com. Student tickets are $7, general admission are $15 and season-ticket holders with courtside seats can purchase courtside seats at Blackham for $25.