Cajuns adjusting basketball lineup in wake of Jay Wright’s injury _lowres

Advocate photo by PAUL KIEU -- Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns guard Jay Wright (1) defends Little Rock Trojans guard Marcus Johnson Jr. (13) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game on February 13, 2016, at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA.

LAFAYETTE — Kasey Shepherd said he didn’t get a very good look at point guard Jay Wright’s right index finger after it was dislocated in multiple spots Thursday against Troy. And after seeing the reaction of those who did, he was happy for that.

“There was a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ and turning away, and I saw some blood on the floor too, so I’m assuming it’s pretty bad,” Shepherd said.

Now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette men’s basketball team just needs to figure out how bad it truly is and, with the conference tournament coming up next week, how much time Wright will need to miss.

Coach Bob Marlin said in his radio show Monday night that Wright “looked good” and could possibly return to the lineup this week, which is shocking considering the nature of the injury.

Wright reportedly injured the index finger on his shooting hand so badly that the bone broke the skin. He needed seven stitches after the game Thursday, did not play in Saturday’s game against South Alabama, and spent Monday going to follow-up appointments with local doctors.

Marlin said it happened late in the first half against Troy when Wright dove for a loose ball.

“We didn’t know he was hurt,” Marlin said. “He came off holding his hand, it could’ve been his shoulder, then I saw his finger looked like a Z, so it didn’t look pretty.”

Senior Tiremone Williams checked in at the point after Wright’s injury against Troy and acquitted himself well with 10 points and four assists in 22 minutes.

Williams’ strong play against Troy earned him a start in Saturday’s game against South Alabama, but Marlin said he was slowed in the loss to the Jaguars after he tweaked his knee. He finished that game with no points and three assists in 22 minutes.

“Tiremone’s been playing well, so he probably will be bearing some of that load,” Shepherd said.

Wright started the first 26 games of the season and was averaging 8.9 points while leading the team in both steals (27) and assists (91).

As of Monday, Marlin had no timetable for his return and said if he needed to miss more time, his minutes would likely be dispersed among Williams, Shepherd and Elijah McGuire at point guard.

“All those guys are going to have to step up,” Marlin said. “We’re going to have to make some shots … and run the team. It’ll affect our guard play, we’ve got some depth, but the guys we have need to step up and play. Next man up.”

Shepherd has experience running the offense, but his role this season has mostly centered on providing a scoring punch at shooting guard.

If Wright is unable to go, Shepherd might have to go back to being more of a facilitator while he’s on the floor.

“I kind of have to dial back looking for my own shot,” Shepherd said. “I’ve got to be more in tune with the offense and making sure it’s flowing right. I have to be more selective with when I shoot the ball and when I have to give it to my teammates.”

Shepherd is dealing with a finger injury of his own. He ruptured a tendon in the middle finger of his shooting hand against Georgia State earlier this season and is still wearing a protective bandage.

Though Shepherd didn’t dislocate his finger — and didn’t have a bone protruding — Marlin said the injuries were similar in a sense. Shepherd didn’t miss any time, responding with 27 points on 7-of-10 shooting in his first game after the injury.

If the Cajuns can hold on to a top-four seed in conference play, Wright would have 15 days between the day he injured his finger and the Cajuns’ first game in the Sun Belt Conference tournament to heal.

Long picks up honors

Senior forward Shawn Long picked up a couple of weekly honors after a dominant two-game stretch in Alabama last week during which he averaged 27 points, 16.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks against Troy and South Alabama.

Long was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week and College Sports Madness/Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for his efforts.

With two games left in the regular season, Long leads the SBC in scoring (19.4), rebounding (13.2) and blocks (1.9) per game.