LAFAYETTE — A lot of different words could be used to describe the first nine games of Louisiana-Lafayette’s season, but for coach Bob Marlin, disappointing isn’t one of them.
Yes, he said, the Cajuns are 3-6 and have yet to win a game on the road, but the Cajuns have also played six teams that are a combined 31-2 at home this season.
“We’re not disappointed,” Marlin said. “We’ve played hard, we’ve played a great schedule, we’re getting better. We’re not going to win every game, everybody else loses on the road, too. We had 6-of-9 and 10-of-15 (on the road) to start the year.
“I’m going to get defensive if people start talking about our record being disappointing. I’d like to see some other teams play our schedule and see what their record would be.”
At other points in this young season, a game in the Cajundome briefly revitalized the Cajuns after some tough sledding on the road. They are hopeful some home cooking once again does the trick against UNO (3-6) on Monday.
“It’s the next game, it’s a home game, and it’s one that we need to come out and play well in,” Marlin said.
A three-game road swing ended with a thud in Malibu, California, on Friday, when the Cajuns were thumped 79-59 against Pepperdine. The loss guaranteed a winless nonconference road record (0-5).
The opposite has been true at home, however. While the competition has been much better on the road, the Cajuns are 3-0 when playing on their own floor, winning by an average margin of 39 points per game.
The biggest difference between the road Cajuns and the home Cajuns has been the shooting percentages — both for the Cajuns and for the opposition.
The Cajuns have shot better than 50 percent from the floor in all three of their home games this season but have not topped that figure once on the road. At home, the Cajuns are 54.5 percent shooters (115-211). On the road, they’ve shot 40.8 percent (160-for-392).
Opponents playing on their home court are shooting the lights out against the Cajuns. The Pepperdine game was the first time the Cajuns held an opponent under 50 percent shooting on the road this season.
In total, the Cajuns’ road opponents have shot 53.8 percent (184-for-342), including a 50.4 percent mark from the 3-point line.
The Privateers enter Monday’s game with their own road struggles. All six of their losses have come on the road as well, though they do have a road win to their credit. Like the Cajuns, UNO’s two best shooting efforts of the season came in its two home contests.
But that’s not to say the Privateers haven’t been competitive. They took Massachusetts to overtime on the road last week and lost at Tulane by just two.
They’re led in scoring by guard Christavious Gill, a 5-foot-8 spark plug who is putting up 14.3 points per game.
The Cajuns will have a distinct advantage in size, though. Senior forward Kevin Hill is the Privateers’ tallest starter at 6-foot-7, and their usual starting lineup has an average height of 6-3.
“But they’ve done a good job with a smaller lineup,” Marlin said. “They’ve outrebounded their opponents, something that we’ve done. They’ve got a really good group of guards that can offset a lack of height.”
A win would give the Cajuns some positive momentum when the conference slate starts in earnest next month. The only other action between now and then is an exhibition game on Dec. 30.
Marlin does not sound concerned about where his team currently stands. He said his team’s eyes are focused forward, not back.
“It doesn’t matter what we do until March,” Marlin said. “We’ve got to continue to get better and position ourselves to win in March. We’re three months away from that.”