LAFAYETTE — If the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team wants to see the pressure points waiting for them in a season opener at Ole Miss, they might be able to watch parts of their own practices.
“When I watched (the Rebels) play, I saw us,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “They play a lot like us. They are very athletic, and they pressure the ball and predicate themselves off defense, especially in the full court.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns will get a first-hand look at that defense at 7 p.m. Sunday at Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, Mississippi. That defense enabled Ole Miss to defeat Mississippi Valley State 97-61 on Friday. The Rebels managed that 36-point win despite shooting 28.9 percent (13 for 45) in the first half. The equalizer was the Rebels forced 35 turnovers, which contributed to being able to take 93 shots.
“They were able to stay in the gam,e because of their defense,” Brodhead said. “I can see what their coach (Matt Insell) is building. He is recruiting athletes that can guard. Actually, he is getting athletes that can score now, too.”
One of those scorers is sophomore Shandricka Sessom, who made 9 of 19 attempts as part of a 24-point outing.
“They are looking for her to score, and that’s what she is in the game for,” Brodhead said. “That is going to pose a challenge for us, and another thing is going to be rebounding. That will be big for us. Mississippi Valley got beat on the rebounds in the second half on second and third shots. We can’t allow them to get second or third shots or we will be in trouble.”
A pair of Rebels frontcourt players, Kelsey Briggs and Bretta Hart, stand 6-foot-3 and 6-1. Briggs connected on a pair of 3-pointers as part of her 12 points. The Cajuns will counter at times with two freshmen, 6-1 Jordan Alexander and 6-3 Breionne Cooper. That duo could have to stretch their wings as part of their defensive coverage responsibilities.
“That’s what they recruit in the SEC — they recruit the 6-2 and 6-3 players that can shoot the 3,” Brodhead said. “They bring people out (of the paint).
“It’s going to be something a little different for us having to go out and cover it, especially for the freshmen that have never had to do it before. I don’t know how much we will see it in our conference, but in the SEC, you see it a lot. They have a lot of stretch fours (power forwards) that can shoot. But I would rather see them out there than in the lane.”
Aside from those in-game matchups, Brodhead is interested in seeing how his squad that has exhibition wins at home over LSU-Alexandria and Xavier will handle the challenge of a road test.
“We are still trying to build on our chemistry,” Brodhead said. “Can we get consistent whether we are playing the SEC or any other team? That’s one of the things we are pushing for.”