Sun Belt men’s basketball coaches high on conference’s status _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns head coach Bob Marlin reacts to a play against the Texas State Bobcats at UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La. Friday, March 13, 2015.

LAFAYETTE — Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin signed a new five-year contract that will see him remain at the university through March 31, 2020, Athletic Director Scott Farmer announced Friday.

The five-year deal, which will pay $455,000 annually, includes bonus incentives for Sun Belt Conference regular-season or tournament championships, appearances in the postseason (NCAA, NIT, CIT), recording graduation rates that exceed the national average for NCAA men’s basketball programs and earning Coach of the Year honors. Marlin can also receive a bonus if season ticket sales for Ragin’ Cajuns home games equals or surpasses 4,000 in a year.

“We are excited to have Bob Marlin committed to leading our men’s basketball program for the next five years,” Farmer said. “Throughout his coaching career, his teams have performed well both on the court and in the classroom. He has been a tireless advocate in maintaining the rich tradition and culture of Ragin’ Cajuns basketball and has been a tremendous teacher and role model to our young men who have proudly worn the Ragin’ Cajuns uniform.”

Marlin, who is 436-243 in 22 seasons as a head coach, including an 88-77 mark at UL-Lafayette, has been the architect of a resurgence of the Ragin’ Cajuns as he has led the team to three postseason appearances in the past four years. With a combined total of 45 wins in the past two seasons, Marlin has helped the Ragin’ Cajuns equal the win total set from 1982-84 and was capped by a Final Four appearance in the NIT.

“My family and I love UL and the city of Lafayette,” Marlin said. “I appreciate the support of University President Dr. Joseph Savoie, Athletic Director Scott Farmer, the faculty and staff, the UL student body and all the Ragin’ Cajuns fans that have helped us move our program forward.

“I am also very appreciative of the opportunity to lead a tradition-rich Ragin’ Cajuns basketball program into what we think will be one of the most exciting times in school history.”

Marlin, the 13th coach in the Ragin’ Cajuns storied history on the hardwood, spent the first three seasons building the foundation of the program. He set the tone for future development of the Ragin’ Cajuns program before breaking through the barrier in 2013-14 and leading Louisiana to its first official NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000 after sweeping its way to a Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship.

In 2014-15, Marlin guided the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 22-14 record and the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. Led by Shawn Long, a first-team all-Sun Belt selection, Lou Henson All-American and 2015 member of the U.S. Pan American men’s basketball team, Marlin’s squad averaged 77.5 points per game to rank 16th nationally.

Louisiana-Lafayette finished with 23 wins in 2013-14, its most since the 1983-84 season and tied for the second most in program history. The season also included junior Elfrid Payton’s selection in the 2014 NBA Draft, going 10th overall to the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Orlando Magic on draft day.

Payton, who earlier in the year earned first team all-Sun Belt Conference honors and was named the Lefty Driesell National Defensive Player of the Year, became the first Ragin’ Cajun taken in the first round since Kevin Brooks in 1991 and the 20th UL-Lafayette draft selection in program history.

During the 2013-14 season, three players for the Ragin’ Cajuns — Payton, Long and Bryant Mbamalu — each eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier, while Marlin guided Louisiana to an 11-game win streak during his first season in 2010-11 — the school’s longest win streak in 38 years.

As a head coach that has included stops at Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College and Sam Houston State, Marlin has coached two NBA draft choices, a NJCAA National Player of the Year, one NJCAA Student-Athlete of the Year, seven All-Americans, two conference players of the year, three league newcomers of the year, two freshmen of the year, three league student-athletes of the year, 46 all-conference selections, four academic All-Americans, and 47 academic all-conference student-athletes.

For updates and info on Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball, follow the team on twitter @CajunBasketball or check RaginCajuns.com.