LAFAYETTE — Even after the destination became clear for the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team, the details were still a bit cloudy.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (21-10) took up the Women’s Basketball Invitational on a chance to defend the title they won last season by defeating Siena. When coach Garry Brodhead discussed the scenario with the team Monday, there were still some blanks that needed to be filled in: The Cajuns knew they had a spot in the tournament with a chance to host an opponent, but that foe had yet to be determined.
“Our kids just want to play basketball and they don’t think too much about all the hoopla and all that,” Brodhead said. “That is what’s so good about these kids. They are hardworking and loyal in every aspect of what they do. So I met with them at noon (Monday). We talked about what we had decided as a staff and an administration to move forward in the WBI and they were excited.”
On Monday night, after the unveiling of the NCAA and WNIT brackets, the Cajuns learned the details: They open the WBI against Northwestern State. The teams will meet at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Cajundome, the start of a postseason doubleheader before the Cajuns men face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the CollegeInsider.com tournament.
The Cajuns were looking at the Women’s National Invitation Tournament as a possibility if they did not win the Sun Belt Conference tournament that concluded Saturday with Troy taking home the title. Since the Trojans knocked out Arkansas State and Little Rock (the top two seeds), that made those squads potential invitees to the WNIT over the Cajuns.
“Our decision was based on the WNIT,” Brodhead said. “We were waiting to see because, if you sign a WBI contract, you can’t go to the WNIT. A couple of weeks ago, we felt comfortable that, if we didn’t get into the NCAA, that we would get into the WNIT.
“It was something we were hoping for, and then the situation came up with Troy winning. With Little Rock being out, they would probably be extended the WNIT (invitation) when we weren’t.”
Those developments played a role in routing the Cajuns to the WBI. Aside from the chance to chase a championship, more time on the court is seen as a necessity for the underclassmen.
“We want to play in postseason all the time because it is not only a great experience for the whole team but for your young kids, too,” Brodhead said. “It gives them some more playing time and practice time. Anytime you extend your season and you play more and practice more, I think you build a program.”