Ragin’ Cajuns work to shore up defense _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana-Lafayette's Keke Veal takes a shot on Thursday night while the Cajuns host Arkansas State at the Cajundome.

LAFAYETTE — As the Ragin’ Cajuns went through early preparations for a trip to Texas, their to-do list included a handful of don’ts.

For help defense situations, the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team received tutorials on Sunday and Monday that included a rundown broken into two categories.

“We did a lot of defensive stuff (Monday) and it looked a lot better,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “I think they understood about us not helping up (to the perimeter). We kind of slipped from the coaching staff, especially myself, because I thought they understood it.”

Verbal discussions and film sessions provided a refresher on some principles as the Cajuns focused on coordinating their perimeter and interior defense.

“We showed film and went over some of the things that we don’t want to do — instead of just the things that we want to do. I think they get it because we had a typical time scoring against each other. That was kind of fun.”

Within that discussion, there was also a focus on doing some fundamental things to help keep guards Kia Wilridge and Keke Veal out of foul trouble. The challenge — which Brodhead said is a hard one — is for them to be aggressive up to a point. “That is one of the things affecting us more than anything,” Brodhead said. “When we have either one of them go out, then we have to go with a different lineup. They are both so good offensively and defensively and they both like to reach and be aggressive.”

Aside from those technical aspects, Brodhead mentioned the need to outwork other teams in general.

“Everybody talks about the Xs and Os and what kind of defense you are going to run and all that, but how are you going to get your kid to play harder than the other team? I thought that is what Little Rock did at the end of the game (Saturday). They played a little bit harder than us and they were able to finish.”

Lessons in learning

As the Cajuns look to rebound from a couple of home losses when they take on Texas-Arlington on Thursday and Texas State on Saturday, Brodhead stressed the opportunity is there for the players and the staff to learn from having faced the top two teams in the Sun Belt standings. “You are going to have some adversities,” Brodhead said. “How do they say that — ‘you are either a winner or you are a learner.’ We lost a couple of games, but that doesn’t mean we are losers. We played them close and we have to learn from them. And don’t shy (away) from your weaknesses. You are going to have weaknesses in your game. Find out what they are and try to correct them.”

Heading home

For guard Taylor Washington (Arlington, Texas) and forward Jordan Alexander (Dallas), facing UT-Arlington in a couple of days gave them some extra springs in their steps at Monday’s practice. “I thought Jordan and Taylor were both fired up at practice,” Brodhead said. “They got up and down the floor. We did a little 5-on-5 stuff and I haven’t seen them run like that in a couple of weeks. I think they are excited about the opportunity to go home. Maybe your people (at home) didn’t recruit you or maybe they did. Now it’s time to go out and play as hard as you can. Your family is going to show up and it gives you an opportunity to play in front of them.”