LAFAYETTE — Garry Brodhead got a basic clue about what might be coming to Cajundome on Thursday long before he flipped on any game films.
When the University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball coach attended Sun Belt Conference coaches’ meetings last spring, he found out some of his peers had kept tabs on the Cajuns and their strong suits.
“When I went to the spring meetings for conference (Texas State coach Zenarae Antoine) came up to me and said, ‘We are playing like the Ragin’ Cajuns next year. We are playing small ball,’” Brodhead said.
When the Cajuns (14-3, 7-1) host the Texas State Bobcats (9-8, 4-3) at 5 p.m. Thursday, the Bobcats might deploy some smaller lineups than the squad the Cajuns swept in a pair of meetings a season ago. The tallest Texas State player in the starting lineup when the Bobcats played their most recent conference game was 5-foot-10 sophomore forward Ericka May, who is the Bobcats’ leading rebounder at 7.1 per game.
“They are like us on offense,” Brodhead said. “A smaller team that is going to try to run and move the ball and get some shots. They will probably get into the high post area to Ericka May. Their guard play is really good. They are similar. To me, it going to be who is going to be the better defensive team?”
The leader in scoring defense during conference games has been the Cajuns, who are allowing an average of 55.4 points. Texas State ranks next to last at 75.9 points.
The Bobcats come to town with the Cajuns on a four-game winning streak. The most recent was a comeback effort against Troy that resulted in a 56-53 victory. The Cajuns were able to slow a Troy team that came in scoring 86 points a game. The matchup against the Bobcats could be a chance for the Cajuns to resume playing at a faster pace.
“We always try that,” Brodhead said. “I think one of our strengths is our offensive transition. We want to get up and down the floor and create easy baskets. We have to not turn it over and take good shots. I think we have an opportunity to push the ball against them and make the game a little bit faster.”
Any guard-heavy lineups for the Cajuns will likely be without junior Jaylyn Gordon, who is suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Guards Jodi Quinn, Taylor Washington and Sylvana Okde are the main candidates to see more court time to help pick up those minutes. Senior Keke Veal leads the Cajuns in scoring at 15.4 points a game. Kia Wilridge is averaging 12.8. Wilridge said the process of opponents going to small lineups is an ongoing development that takes time to master.
“When we first got here, everybody was saying we need to be big, but we were playing small ball,” Wilridge said. “It takes time. You can’t overnight just play small ball when you are used to playing with a bigger team. For us, we never had 6-3 (players), so all we know is playing small ball.”