One year of seasoning has helped Jaylyn Gordon strengthen a group of three.
Through the first four games of her sophomore season, Gordon has averaged 17 points a game for the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball squad. That effort for a 4-0 team includes a 23-point outburst in a win over Southeastern Louisiana on Nov. 29.
“As a freshman, (Gordon) struggled with the speed of the game early on,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said of the former West St. John star. “Now, she is in the lineup with pretty good guards.”
In addition to Gordon’s offensive output, juniors Keke Veal and Kia Wilridge have scored 13.5 and 13 points per game, respectively. “All three have contributed, which is a great situation for us,” Brodhead said. “If teams key more on Keke, that opens it up for Jaylyn. On defense, unfortunately, you have to give up something.”
Considering that Brodhead prides himself on seeing his team keep opponents in the 50s (UL-Lafayette is allowing 55.8 points a game), he was keenly interested in seeing Gordon’s development as a defender going from her first to second season.
“Whether she was making or missing shots last season, defense was a struggle for Jaylyn,” he said. “She grew from it and she has grown into a more defense-oriented player.”
Gordon’s growth during high school at West. St. John in Edgard culminated in her averaging 22.3 points a game as a senior and being named the Class 1A Louisiana Player of the Year in 2013. It completed a process that started for her at West St. John as an eighth-grader.
“We felt she was a complete player at the point (guard),” Brodhead said. “She could handle the ball, handle pressure, had an ability to pass and could create offense for herself.”
To get Gordon to make the trek to Lafayette, Brodhead and his staff did have a source of help based on family ties. Former Cajuns quarterback Blaine Gautier is Gordon’s cousin.
Gordon’s athleticism shows up in other areas besides her scoring.
“Our guards can rebound,” Brodhead said. “They may look small, but they are long and athletic.”
The Cajuns are beating opponents on the boards by an average of five a game — 37.8 to 32.8.
The Cajuns also moved from a five-out offense to one that features four players outside the paint and one inside. The switch has created more room for Gordon and the other guards to operate. “It opens up more gaps and makes it more difficult for (opposing) defenses to help each other,” Brodhead said.
Aside from athleticism or offensive scheme changes, Gordon and her teammates in the back court have benefited from another asset: the passage of time.
“Those three guards are becoming more mature and more patient on offense,” Brodhead said. “Just because you are open, maybe that is not the best shot to take. If the defense helps (to stop them), they can pitch it out.”