LAFAYETTE — Although the Louisiana-Lafayette 2015-16 men’s basketball schedule has not officially been released, coach Bob Marlin divulged a handful of the games on the Ragin’ Cajuns’ slate Thursday.
The Cajuns will make a Nov. 16 trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes, then follow that with a West Coast swing to UCLA and Pepperdine on Dec. 15 and 18.
Those three teams combined to win 65 games last season, with UCLA advancing to the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 and Miami losing in the NIT championship game.
This will mark the first meeting between the Cajuns and UCLA and just the second time the Cajuns have played Miami; the Cajuns beat the Hurricanes 66-60 in 1999. The 1999-2000 season was also the last time the Cajuns faced Pepperdine.
The trip to California is timed after the conclusion of the fall semester, and Marlin said he hopes it goes beyond improving the Cajuns’ strength of schedule.
“That experience going to California will be a bonding time for our team,” he said. “We’re out of exams the week before, so we’ll have time to get better.”
Also on the nonconference schedule is a home game against UNO shortly after the team returns from California. The Cajuns likely will play Louisiana Tech again, but the contract has not been signed so the game is not officially on the schedule.
“Louisiana Tech now has decided they do want to continue the series, which is one of the oldest running series in the state,” Marlin said. “We’re looking forward to that, but we’re waiting to get a contract with those guys.”
Marlin said the team is “having trouble getting dates for the Cajundome,” so it could be spending a large portion of the nonconference schedule on the road — which becomes even more worrisome when looking at the Sun Belt Conference schedule. The SBC portion of the schedule has been released; the Cajuns open league play Dec. 3 at Louisiana-Monroe.
“We start with five of six on the road,” Marlin said. “We’re the only team that does that.”
On the road
Many thought Thursday’s NBA draft would be the day Shawn Long would begin his professional basketball career — until he made his somewhat surprising decision to return for his senior season.
“I feel like he made a wise decision,” Marlin said. “It was a situation where the numbers weren’t in his favor, and I was glad that he chose to come back and give himself another year to prove himself.”
Instead of packing his belongings and heading to a professional squad Friday, Long had a weekend bag ready for the Nike Skills Academy in Santa Monica, California, where he’ll spend a couple of days working alongside some of the nation’s top high school and college players.
Long will return early next week, then head west again, this time to try to make the Pan American Games team. Marlin said he’d be competing against 15 other collegiate players and eight professional players for a spot on that roster.
“It’s a tough team to make, but it’s a great opportunity for Shawn to be in front of a lot of people,” Marlin said.
With summer school in session, the Cajuns have been able to get a few practices in. Marlin doesn’t have a full roster at his disposal — he’s waiting on a couple of newcomers — but at least one new player has caught his eye: Jerekius Davis from Provine High in Jackson, Mississippi.
“(Davis) has done a really good job,” Marlin said. “He can score the ball; he’s got a gift to do that. He’s trying to learn how to play. He had a couple great practices, and then Tuesday he wasn’t so good.”