When the Troy Trojans charge into the Cajundome, they will bring a battle plan from Alabama that University of Louisiana-Lafayette coach Garry Brodhead has seen before at a couple of levels.
Before Brodhead and Troy coach Chanda Rigby faced each other within the Sun Belt Conference, Rigby was the coach at Loranger High School from 1996-2000 — a time frame that coincided with Brodhead’s time at Teurlings Catholic.
“When (Rigby) was at Loranger, they were scoring in the 80s,” Brodhead said.
This edition of Troy’s team that will face the Cajuns at 5 p.m. Saturday is averaging 73 points during its first 10 games (5-5, 0-1 in the SBC).
“They are an offensive-minded team, and we are defense-minded,” Brodhead said. “We want to get them down to 60, and they want to get to 80.”
Troy reached those scoring goals in previous seasons thanks in part to ex-Trojans guard Joanna Harden, who averaged 25.1 points a game last season. She is gone because of graduation. Two Trojans — guard Ashley Beverly-Kelley and forward Ronita Garrett — provide a double-figure scoring threat. They average 15.1 and 14.6 points, respectively. Garrett is also the team leader in rebounds with 10.5 a game.
“A lot of times, we made Harden take tough shots, but she could flat out score,” Brodhead said. “We feel like we can defend every situation, but she was one that we couldn’t stop.”
For a Ragin’ Cajuns squad (8-2, 0-1) that is coming off a 67-41 conference-opening loss to Arkansas Little-Rock, the defensive challenge will be two-fold.
“Beverly-Kelley is so athletic ... she tries to get to the middle of the floor,” Brodhead said. “A lot of it is screen and roll action. She is very effective with the ball in her hands, and she is hard to guard in the open court. We have to keep her out of the middle (on the dribble). Garrett gets a lot of offensive rebounds and is very aggressive on the offensive side. We have to block out and rebound.”
Junior UL-Lafayette guard Kia Wilridge is 30th in the country in steals per game with an average of 2.9. She is also scoring 13 points per game, which is second on the Cajuns behind sophomore Jaylyn Gordon, who has averaged 15 points. Part of working against a Troy squad that allows 72.9 points per game will be determining the need for speed or patience, depending on the situation.
“If you get a lead, we might be more patient and still be able to get that same look (later in a possession),” Brodhead said. “We are a little more experienced now and Kia is doing a good job of running the offense and getting people in a position to score.”
Although both teams are similar physically, with Beverly-Kelley being 5-foot-6 and Wilridge and Gordon both being 5-foot-5, there is that difference in the teams’ philosophy that goes back to high school for the opposing coaching staffs.
“They will do a 2-3 zone (defensively) or they will overplay you,” Brodhead said. “Personnel-wise and size-wise, it matches up pretty evenly. But we are also total opposites.”