Ragin’ Cajuns beat Troy, earn sixth straight win _lowres

Advocate file photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Ragin' Cajun guard Xavian Rimmer .

LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team hopes to take its first step toward returning to the NCAA tournament Friday, when it hosts Louisiana College for its 2014-15 season opener.

The Ragin’ Cajuns might be without junior forward Shawn Long, who is recovering from a bone bruise. The 6-foot-9 forward is the NCAA’s leading active player in career double-doubles with 36 in just 67 career games. He averaged 18.6 points and 10.4 rebounds a year ago.

“We’ll see how he is,” coach Bob Marlin said this week.

Marlin said it’s a possibility that Long could see some minutes off the bench. Even if they’re without Long, the Cajuns should have more than enough firepower to handle Louisiana College, a Division-III team that comes into the game without a regular who stands taller than 6-foot-7.

Cajuns newcomers Brian Williams and Devonta Walker should add some strength and rebounding ability to the lineup. Guards Xavian Rimmer and Kasey Shepherd provide touch from 3-point range and should round out the starting lineup with Long if he’s healthy enough to play.

The game against Louisiana College will be the Cajuns’ only home game in November: They hit the road for a four-game swing as part of the MGM Grand Main Event tournament. The last two games of that swing will be played in Las Vegas.

The women open up their season Friday night as well: They’ll travel to Lamar before returning home to face Xavier of Louisiana November 18.

A pair of preseason All-Sun Belt Conference players return for the Cajuns, in second-team guard Keke Veal and third-team guard Kia Wilridge.