LAFAYETTE — Monday’s exhibition opener for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team offered a glimpse of things to come when considering rule changes to the sport this season.

The 30-second shot clock and its impact on speeding the game up this season will likely be a hot topic around college basketball, but Cajuns coach Bob Marlin isn’t worried about how that will affect his team.

But NCAA’s enhanced emphasis on contact fouls, in which referees will closely monitor hand checking in an effort to free up the offensive pace and movement, could have a very visible effect early.

“The officials have been mandated by the national coordinator to call it very tight, very strict,” Marlin said. “They say that the (officials) that waver from that as we get into the season, which is what normally happens, those guys will not be allowed to officiate in the NCAA tournament.

“We’ll see if it continues this year. I think it’s going to happen, and I think it’s going to cause some early games to be ugly.”

It’s been somewhat of a concern for Marlin early, especially with his newcomers who have not played a game with NCAA officials yet. The Cajuns have used area high school referees in practice to try to simulate what might happen on the court, but it’s probably going to require an adjustment period once the actual games start.

“The whistle was something that we weren’t used to,” Marlin said. “We talked about it and I tried to prepare them, but until we got into it, it was a different story. We’ll have to be prepared for that as we go into our game Friday night against Louisiana College.”

Get your kicks in now

Marlin made a point of reminding fans that, based on the way the Cajuns schedule shakes out early, they might want to try to make it out to see the team Friday.

“I want to encourage all of our fans to come out, you’ve got four times to see us between now and Christmas, and this is one of them,” Marlin said.

Six of the Cajuns’ first nine games are on the road, and they don’t play at home again until Nov. 25 against Loyola. But they’re also competing head-to-head against the first round of the high school football playoffs Friday.

SBC extends stay in New Orleans

Sun Belt Conference presidents and chancellors met in New Orleans on Monday and reached an agreement to extend the deal for New Orleans to serve as a host site for the men’s and women’s basketball tournament through the 2017 season.

The tournament has been held at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans the past two seasons, but the contract was set to expire after this season’s tournament.

That has led to speculation that the event would be hosted elsewhere sometime soon, especially with poor attendance numbers at last season’s tournament.

The 2017 tournament will be the first time each member school will participate in the tournament. Under the current format, only the top eight schools in the conference standings play in the tournament.

The men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be the first time the new format is implemented, but it will subsequently extend to all sports thereafter.

Long makes watch list

Shawn Long was one of 30 players to be named to the Lou Henson Award preseason watch list Tuesday. The award is given annually to the nation’s top player at a Division I midmajor program.

Long was a member of the Lou Henson All-America team last season, when he averaged 16.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.