LAFAYETTE — A game against a member of the Horizon League is one way to broaden the horizons of the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team.
After going through nearly three dozen games against opponents mostly from the South, the Ragin’ Cajuns faced a new set of questions this week. Among them: Where is Youngstown State?
That subject and many others came up as the Cajuns (23-10) prepared for a Women’s Basketball Invitational semifinal against the Penguins (21-12) at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Cajundome.
Coach Garry Brodhead has never been to Youngstown, Ohio. His Buckeye State experiences have taken place in Cleveland and Cincinnati, he said.
When he was in his first year as an assistant coach at McNeese State in 2007, McNeese matched up with a Cincinnati team guided by J. Kelley Hall, the former Louisiana-Lafayette coach with the most wins in Cajuns history (86).
But Ohio has not been on the recruiting radar for a team made up of Louisiana and Texas natives.
“We are not a traveling group,” Brodhead said with a laugh. “I guess our traveling is for recruiting.”
One Cajuns staff member had Ohio in her sights previously. When assistant coach Katherine Katz spent a season as an assistant at Appalachian State, the Mountaineers were still part of the Southern Conference and had not made their move to the Sun Belt.
“I recruited up in that area,” Katz said of Ohio. “It’s a good brand of basketball. Green Bay is sort of the perennial power of the (Horizon League). Youngstown State passes the ball well, and they seem to be a half-court team and not a transition-dominant offense. They skip (pass) the ball, and they drive and kick. They play a little different style than what we mostly see in the Sun Belt.”
Before the Cajuns watched film of the Penguins, senior forward Adrienne Prejean said facing a brand new opponent can be a benefit after seeing many of the same faces two or three times during Sun Belt play.
“It’s interesting because you never know what to expect,” she said. “You don’t think about things like, ‘I know how she plays.’ You just have to play basketball, and it’s more of a feeling of the game rather than thinking.”
Pondering the Penguins includes a pair of main points. Sophomore forward Sarah Cash leads the way in scoring at 14.3 points after serving as a walk-on last season. She also hauls down 7.3 rebounds.
Nikki Arbanas is the main perimeter threat. She has made 86 3-pointers, one away from the Youngstown State season record.
If the Penguins combine good offensive spacing with on-target shooting, that would increase the degree of difficulty for a Cajuns defense allowing an average of 51.9 points in 14 games at the Cajundome.
“If their shooters get loose and we can’t find them, it will be a long night,” Brodhead said. “That makes it a little tougher to guard and tougher to help (each other) on defense.”