Cajuns senior Brooklyn Arceneaux serves as ‘team mom’ to underclassmen _lowres

Advocate file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- UL-Lafayette's Brooklyn Arceneaux drives past UC Santa Barbara's Kali Jones during a game Dec. 15 at the Cajundome.

LAFAYETTE — Brooklyn Arceneaux has taken on a handful of roles during her senior season at UL-Lafayette: primary rebounder, defender, high-post passing or scoring threat ... and team mom.

Arceneaux has embraced the on-court responsibilities for the Ragin’ Cajuns in the name of pursuing a Sun Belt Conference championship.

On the surface, the mom role might seem like a mild joke based on coach Garry Brodhead’s assessment.

“We always call Brooklyn the team mom because she is always that kid that is real logical in the way she thinks and she wants to win a championship,” Brodhead said. “Out of any of the kids, she knows what it takes to do it. She has won a couple of them at St. Thomas More, and now she knows this is it.”

But for the guard who often plays as a hybrid guard/forward, many bonds with her teammates come from Arceneaux’s experience. She has been through many of the things underclassmen are now facing.

Arceneaux battled back from a knee injury to 21 minutes per game so far for the Cajuns (14-3, 7-1 Sun Belt), who host Texas State at 5 p.m. Thursday. Junior guard Sylvana Okde is also working her way back from an initial knee injury and follow-up microfracture surgery.

“Silk (Okde) and I always talk about our injuries and I try to help her mentally by pointing out that it gets better,” Arceneaux said. “It’s a process. You are not going to just come back and be 100 percent. It’s a process.”

Arceneaux is averaging 4.4 rebounds for the Cajuns. When jump shots or runners by the guards miss the mark, Arceneaux is a frequent rebounder. In the Cajuns’ two most recent home games, she had eight rebounds against South Alabama and nine against Troy.

Five of her rebounds against Troy came on offense. Troy came into the game averaging 86.2 points, so forcing the Trojans to play 20 or 25 extra seconds of defense was a key for the Cajuns, who rallied for a 56-53 victory.

“We knew they wanted to try to limit us to one shot and run and do transition (offense),” Arceneaux said. “We really predicated our practices on crashing the boards and trying to stop their transition.”

Rebounding and defending are two areas where Arceneaux’s experience can be an important visual tool for freshmen.

“For everybody on our team, rebounding is extremely important to us,” Brodhead said. “For Brooklyn to be kind of undersized as a hybrid player and to come in and show that she can rebound — that is big for someone like Jordan Alexander that is a little bit bigger than Brooklyn. It shows Jordan how important this is (rebounding) and this is why I play because I am a good defensive player and rebounder.”

When Arceneaux is in the high post facing a defender, she selects the her passes based on the lessons she learned during the past few seasons. When she is faced with a smaller defender, that improves Arceneaux’s sight lines for potential passes.

“It’s good to be able to have that advantage,” Arceneaux said. “Then I need to know who to pass it to and when to pass it to them. It’s just knowing my teammates.”

That communication about injuries, rebounding and offensive and defensive systems has given Arceneaux a motherly nickname and some inner motivation.

“Her doing whatever the team needs her to do — she’s in,” Brodhead said. “Her goal is to win a championship. I know the kids, especially the younger kids, feel that. They see the leadership, and she is going to be one of them to make sacrifices for a win.”