LAFAYETTE — Through three games, the Louisiana-Lafayette men’s basketball team has featured the same three starting lineups, but don’t expect that to continue Wednesday night against Loyola.
“Look for a change tomorrow, we’re going to mix it up a bit I think,” coach Bob Marlin said at a Tuesday news conference. “I don’t know exactly who I’ll start tomorrow. I’ve got an idea in my head. I’m going to see how practice goes today, but we could mix up a couple of spots.”
Point guard Jay Wright and Shawn Long are virtual locks to remain where they are, but the other three spots in the starting lineup could be the target of a shakeup.
Junior guard Hayward Register and sophomores Johnathan Stove and Bryce Washington have all had relatively slow starts while working with the starting five. All three are averaging 6 points per game or less.
While the scoring punch isn’t necessarily what’s being asked of Stove or Washington, that is precisely what coaches want out of Register. But the Lafayette native has had trouble knocking down shots so far.
Known for his ability to shoot from deep, Register has hit just four of his 20 attempts from 3-point range, including a 2-for-10 effort from beyond the arc against Alabama.
Marlin said he had a discussion with Register before Sunday’s practice, and he responded with one of his better practices of the young season.
“We’ll see how he comes out and shoots the ball,” Marlin said. “But that’s the one thing, he’s the best shooter on our team possibly, so we need him to shoot the ball with confidence. I’m confident that he’ll get it going here soon.”
Some of the Cajuns’ reserves have turned in outstanding performances off the bench. Kasey Shepherd is currently second on the team with a 15 points-per-game average, while Devonta Walker has put up 10 points and six rebounds per night in a reserve role.
Who starts the game has never been that big of an issue for Marlin, though.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in the game, the time or the score, I expect us to play the Cajun Way, and that’s to play hard, as hard as you can as long as you can,” Marlin said. “It’s about production.
“We’ve played a few games, we’ve had guys that haven’t produced like they’re capable. Their minutes will be cut.”
Long on accolades
With a 14-rebound effort against Alabama last week, Long became the Cajuns’ all-time leader in rebounds. He’s also two points behind Graylin Warner for No. 6 on the all-time scoring list, and 40 blocks shy of breaking the school record in blocks.
But Marlin said those kinds of numbers don’t mean much to his star forward.
“I don’t think he really cares about them,” Marlin said. “He’s put up a lot of numbers, but he’s all about winning. That’s what he wants to do.”
While Marlin had hoped it would be his team that sent a bit of a ripple through the college basketball world in games against Miami and Alabama, he made sure to point out the other Sun Belt schools that recently accomplished that feat.
It started when Little Rock knocked off San Diego State on the road, where the Aztecs had won 32 of their last 33 games. Then UT-Arlington beat Ohio State and Memphis in back-to-back road games.
“Great wins for those guys,” Marlin said.
The Cajuns scored 93 points against both Alabama and Miami, but were unable to come up with the stops needed for wins. The Hurricanes have since risen to No. 15 in The Associated Press Poll after beating No. 16 Utah to move to 5-0 on the season.
“Those opportunities are gone for now, we’ve got to focus on Loyola and make sure that we’re better defensively,” Marlin said.