The University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team’s NCAA tournament hopes came to an end in Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference tournament loss to Little Rock, but that doesn’t mean its season is over.
The Cajuns will likely have to wait until after Sunday’s NIT selection show, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. local time, before they learn whether they will continue to play in a postseason tournament.
Coach Bob Marlin said his team has been in “preliminary contact with a couple of different groups,” but it was too early to say definitively that his team would be in the postseason.
“There’s a possibility, we’ve got to wait and see,” Marlin said. “Get back, talk to our administration and see what’s going on.”
The logical choice for the Cajuns would be the CollegeInsider.com tournament, which they participated in last season, reaching the quarterfinals, in which they lost to Evansville in Blackham Coliseum.
The other option, because the Cajuns are unlikely to make the 32-team NIT field, is the College Basketball Invitational tournament. But Marlin has history with the CIT, with two of his Cajuns teams participating in that tournament.
If the Cajuns do participate in the CIT, the first round will run Monday through Wednesday. The tournament will conclude with the championship game March 29.
Big man, big tournament
Senior forward Shawn Long showed why he was named the league’s Player of the Year in two games at the conference tournament.
Long scored 59 points on 23-of-35 shooting (65.7 percent), meaning Long scored just two fewer points than the entire team output of both Georgia Southern and Georgia State, which each scored 61 points in first-round losses.
“I didn’t sleep last night,” Little Rock coach Chris Beard said. “I started watching tape of him, and I couldn’t put it down. He’s a special player. He might be the best rebounder I’ve ever seen in college basketball.”
Though it’s likely the Cajuns find their way into a postseason tournament, Long reflected on his stellar career after the game.
“Even though we lost today, it was still a blessing to be here these last few years, to have the opportunity to play ball for coach Marlin,” Long said. “We’re just trying to take as much positives as we can out of the situation. Of course, we would like to get a championship, but it happens, it’s part of the game. We want to continue to grow as people and as basketball players.”
Movin’ on up
Long notched a couple of career milestones in Saturday’s loss. He scored 25 points to pass Kevin Brooks and move into third place on the school’s all-time scoring list. Long has 2,305 career points, making him just the third player in school and SBC history to score 2,300 or more.
Long also blocked three shots to pass Alan Ogg for second place on the SBC’s all-time blocks list. Long has 269 blocked shots in his career.