LAFAYETTE — Garry Brodhead has seen his veteran guards deal with tough situations for a few years, so a contest against Southern-New Orleans could provide a chance to see how some youngsters answer the challenges posed by a full-court press.
The Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball squad had the right responses when Ole Miss made a second-half run in a season-opening 82-78 Cajuns win. Brodhead said he expects more defensive heat when the Lady Knights enter Earl K. Long Gym for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Thursday.
“I like to see a lot of pressure in the full court because a lot of times we are so good at breaking pressure with our maturity,” Brodhead said. “We will be able to put some of these younger kids into that situation and see how they handle it — especially in a loud gym like Earl K.”
The freshmen post players for the Cajuns (1-0) made some noise in the Ole Miss win. Breionne Cooper chipped in eight points, six rebounds, a pair of blocks and three steals in 15 minutes. Jordan Alexander hit a couple of free throws to push the Cajuns’ advantage to four points in the closing seconds.
“(Cooper) got some huge rebounds, and for her to get a couple of blocked shots in a row and make them change their shots is impressive,” Brodhead said. “Our (older) kids like playing with (the freshmen). That’s the main thing on our side. We have to have some chemistry in what we are doing, and it’s starting to develop.”
Southern-New Orleans is 0-3 with the most recent game being a 84-62 loss to Loyola. Jophiea Irvin led the Lady Knights with 21 points and eight rebounds. Londyn Thomas had 15 points.
“We have an athletic team coming in, and we are going to see how we can guard them,” Brodhead said.
The Lady Knights will face a Cajun starting backcourt that accounted for 59 points against Ole Miss. Junior Jaylyn Gordon scored 27. Keke Veal finished with 18 points and Kia Wilridge added 12 points. “Jaylyn Gordon has been at a different level in practice, in the exhibition games and to start the season,” Brodhead said. “She is really confident right now, and I think it is going to carry over to our other guards. It’s going to be a system of trying to find our roles. The Ole Miss game was big for us as far as being a confidence booster that we can go in and play a team with that much size and athleticism.”
The Cajuns will run about a 10-player rotation at the Lady Knights. Guards Taylor Washington and Sylvana Okde are working their way back from injuries, with Okde looking at a December return following her redshirt season last year.
“This morning’s practice (Wednesday) was extremely good,” Brodhead said. “We went hard and continue to work. There are some things we are growing with and developing a little bit of a work ethic and wanting to win a little more.”