UL-Lafayette women relish chance to play McNeese State _lowres

RaginCajuns.com file photo by BRAD KEMP -- Louisiana-Lafayette guard Jaylyn Gordon drives to the basketball against UT Pan American forward Brittany Bush during their game in the Women's Basketball Invitational on March 19 at Earl K. Long Gym.

What’s next for this program?

1. The Cajuns have improved every season under Garry Brodhead, going from 10-21 in his first year to 23-12 last season. They closed the year on a hot stretch that resulted in a Women’s Basketball Invitational championship. But Brodhead and his team want more. The Cajuns have their sights set on the second NCAA tournament appearance in school history, and they might just have the personnel to do it. They return their three top scorers from last year’s team as well as a healthy Brooklyn Arceneaux and some talented newcomers.

Who will handle point guard?

2. For now, this will remain a bit of a mystery. The Cajuns have three players they feel comfortable with running the offense in guards Jaylyn Gordon, Kia Wilridge and Keke Veal, and all three have different skillsets. Veal can create her own offense off the dribble, Gordon is a volume scorer and Wilridge might be the best facilitator. The Cajuns will experiment with all three in the early portion of the season and might continue to rotate them in and out at the position until they find an answer that suits the current crop of players.

Can the Cajuns incorporate newfound length?

3. After playing last season with an incredibly small lineup, the Cajuns went out and signed three players who stand 6-foot-1 or taller in Jordan Alexander (6-1), Breionne Cooper (6-3) and Alex Weeks (6-4). It gave the roster an added element that was missing for basically all of last season. Now the Cajuns have to find the right way to incorporate that length. Brodhead hinted the biggest benefit might come not on the boards but in clogging up passing lanes on the defensive side, causing even more turnovers than the team managed to produce last season.

When will Brooklyn Arceneaux be at full strength?

4. Arceneaux was an All-Sun Belt Conference pick the last time she saw the court when she averaged 10.5 points per game as a redshirt sophomore, but she missed all of last season with injury. She was a little hesitant in the exhibition opener against LSU-Alexandria, though she finished with nine points, five rebounds and two assists in just 18 minutes. Brodhead has seen this from her before coming off injury, and he’s hopeful she will round into form by the time the ladies hit the meat of their conference schedule in January.

Will the defensive effort be enough?

5. Make no mistake, it was a robust defensive show that earned 23 wins a year ago. They played a plucky brand of basketball that harassed opponents up and down the court and forced them to make errors, which the Cajuns subsequently capitalized on. The Cajuns forced 740 turnovers, which ranked fifth nationally. That will likely continue this season, because it’s the brand of basketball Brodhead likes to play, but the Cajuns want to improve on the offensive end. They sank just 38 percent of their shots from the floor last year, including a dismal 27 percent from beyond the arc. That needs to improve if the Cajuns want to take the next step.