LAFAYETTE — If Kia Wilridge has the ball less in the beginning, the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team is looking for that role change to help her at the end of games.
Wilridge, a senior guard who was a primary ball handler last season for the Cajuns, has made a move to a shooting guard position. It has reduced her physical responsibilities early during possessions.
“Kia was playing 38 or 39 minutes from her freshman year until last year,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “I think there was some wear and tear. Now we have some kids that can come off the bench and we don’t lose a lot.
“Kia without the ball in her hands — if we move her to the two (shooting guard) — she is able to not have that ball 80 percent of the time in her hands where she is wearing herself out offensively and defensively. I think that is going to help her.”
Another change to help pick up some of those point guard duties will be the Cajuns putting junior guard Jaylyn Gordon in more situations where she is running the offense. Gordon averaged 13.4 points last season and she canned 73 3-pointers. It is a dual role of being a point guard and a scoring threat that Brodhead has benefited from having on hand before.
“I have always been lucky enough to have a scoring point guard,” Brodhead said. “Not just a penetrator and a facilitator at point, but to have someone who can score. With Jay, that’s what she does. She can run the offense and get everyone involved, but she can score, too.
“At practice (Thursday), I ran her on two or three different teams and she made everyone of them go. To me, that is the sign of a good point guard. She is working hard at it. She may turn it over a little bit too much. I think that’s something the coaching staff needs to help her with.”
A civics lesson
A civics lesson ... basketball style
In addition to those on-court role-defining moments, Brodhead routinely has his players put their summaries of their roles down on paper. It is an ongoing process throughout preseason practices that includes some editing. “Before we even start practice, I make them write down their roles and they hand it in to me,” Brodhead said. “Then we will go into two or three weeks of practice and I make them re-write it. Then I meet with them individually and I add on to it.”
A frequent target from the players is spelling out the need to score. That is judged on a case-by-case basis.
“Our offense is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship,” Brodhead said. “We are going to get the people the ball who can score. Defensively, they know it’s a democracy. Everybody has to get involved and everybody has to rebound.”
When the Cajuns face LSU-Alexandria and Xavier in a pair of exhibition games next week at the Cajundome, there are a few elements that Brodhead wants to see the freshmen handle. Aside from rule changes that include contests being broken down into four quarters this season, there is the need to see how the younger players will respond to some of the basics that are not found in practice.
“We have a veteran team that needs to see the lights a little more with the younger kids,” Brodhead said. “I want to see how these younger kids are going to respond to playing under the lights. A ball, three referees and a clock make a lot of difference. We are going to see how aggressive we can be without fouling.”