Where will Shawn Long stand when it’s over?
1. By the time the calendar flips to December, Long will be the school’s all-time leader in rebounds (he’s 28 shy of tying Roy Ebron’s career mark). He will almost assuredly pass Michael Southall’s all-time record in blocked shots (he needs 47 for the record), and if he maintains his career scoring average, he has a chance to move into the top three in points scored. Statistically, Long stands as one of the best Cajuns ever to play, and a second trip to the NCAA tournament would cement his status as an all-timer.
How will the Cajuns spread the minutes?
2. The good thing for the Cajuns is, they return eight solid veterans, and they added a couple solid newcomers to the mix. The question now becomes how they will divide those minutes, not only to keep everyone happy, but to make sure everyone stays sharp. This will present a challenge to coach Bob Marlin, and it might lead him to trot out some unique lineups. The Cajuns have the capability of going both big and small.
What will the Cajuns look like in mid-January?
3. The first half of the season will put the Cajuns’ mettle to the test. Six of their first nine games come against these teams: Miami, Alabama, ULM, Louisiana Tech, UCLA and Pepperdine. After a brief respite, the team will then go on a four-game road swing in conference play, taking on the two Arkansas teams and the two Georgia teams in consecutive weeks. If they can emerge from that slate above .500, the Cajuns will be in good shape, but that will be a challenge.
Can Jay Wright take a step forward?
4. Long gets a lot of deserved credit for the Cajuns’ success, but Jay Wright was the catalyst that turned their season around. He averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists during the six-game win streak to close the regular season. What the Cajuns hope they get more of out of their junior point guard is consistency. Last year was his first at the Division I level, and the hope is that he can continue to expand his offensive game to give the Cajuns another serious offensive threat on the perimeter.
Will the Cajuns get back to the Big Dance?
5. There are a lot of hopes pinned to this team, most of which lie with the two facts listed above: The Cajuns are deep, and they have a legitimate star. But based on the difficulty of the schedule and on recent precedent, the SBC will likely be a one-bid league again, meaning the Cajuns will probably have to win the conference tournament to punch their ticket. The combination of depth and star power gives them a strength no other team in the league can match, though, making the Cajuns as good a team as any to bet on.