LAFAYETTE — As the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team gets ready to race Troy on Thursday at a to-be-determined pace, freshman center Breionne Cooper has been taking steps to get ready for the stretch run.
Cooper, who has played in 21 of 25 games and has averaged 11.7 minutes, has been dealing with a foot injury during the past handful of contests, which has limited her minutes by design.
“It has been a minor foot injury, but she hasn’t been very effective because she can’t move,” coach Garry Brodhead said. “(On Monday) she really looked good in practice. I have been resting her on purpose in games. We might be able to get her some minutes, and we need to get Jordan Alexander going again. It’s just freshman times — trying to fight through that inconsistency.
“The expectations that I bring are kind of high, and I don’t let anybody slip. If any (time) is the time, now is the time to step up and continue to build on what we are doing. The last couple of weeks, we have played better and more together.”
The Cajuns came out of their weekend Texas road swing having allowed 42 and 47 points to UT-Arlington and Texas State. For the younger players, Brodhead said consistency on that end of the floor has been the main area that needs improvement.
“We worked on defensive transition (Monday),” Brodhead said. “They need to be able to play the way our system requires to play. That’s what we are struggling with — with some of the kids coming off the bench. I’m not really worried about the offensive side. If you can shoot the ball, you can shoot the ball. They are trying to fight through on defensive transition and learn how the system works.”
A tall order
Sophomore forward Simone Fields, the primary defender on UT-Arlington’s 6-foot-5 center Rebekah VanDijk, helped limit VanDijk to four points on 2-of-8 shooting before VanDijk fouled out. It was not the first time Fields had success against a taller opponent.
When the Cajuns faced Oral Roberts in the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational last season, the Golden Eagles brought 6-7 center Vicky McIntyre. The result foreshadowed what happened last week: McIntyre finished the WBI matchup 2-of-8 for seven points.
“Offensively, I thought Simone was a lot more aggressive, and I think she kind of took it to heart that we need her to score,” Brodhead said. “Maybe that helped ... the challenge that she had against a 6-5 sophomore who is the same classification.”
A baseball boost
Brodhead credited a conversation he had with Cajuns baseball coach Tony Robichaux for providing some effective verbal assists that helped him get ready for his team’s Texas road trip.
“I went and spent a couple of hours with Tony on some of the things that I do, and you are always looking for better ways to do it,” Brodhead said. “He gave me some ideas on how to get the kids going, and I think our two wins came from a lot of his advice.
“To see them have a great weekend — I went to the game Sunday (a 13-3 win over Sam Houston State), and I was impressed by their physical presence. Not just their skill level, but their physical presence is unbelievable.”