UL-Lafayette men’s basketball returns to routine _lowres

File photo by Brad Kemp/RaginCajuns.com -- Louisiana-Lafayette forward Shawn Long is averaging 17.1 ponts per game as the Cajuns move into a more regular Thursday-Saturday game schedule.

LAFAYETTE — With the grueling portion of their schedule in the rearview mirror and the home stretch in front of them, the Cajuns are hopeful they can get back into a regular routine.

Cajuns director of basketball operations Mike Murphy, who filled in for coach Bob Marlin at the weekly press luncheon as Marlin addressed personal affairs, said getting back to a traditional schedule will be highly beneficial to the team’s ability to prepare.

“We’re getting off the NBA schedule without the NBA amenities and getting into a Thursday/Saturday routine, which I think is going to be very important moving forward,” Murphy said. “This last stretch of games gave us absolutely no time to really make corrections and prepare.”

Murphy said the hectic schedule forced the Cajuns into a routine in which they crammed as much preparation into one day as possible before going out and executing the game plan the following day.

With the time spent on teaching, the Cajuns (11-9, 5-4 Sun Belt) weren’t afforded much time to run through the game plan full speed.

Murphy also attributed some of the up-and-down offensive efforts — not only with the Cajuns, but around the league — to the schedule. The Cajuns are averaging a league-high 78.3 points per game but have mixed 82- and 96-point efforts with 55- and 64-point nights.

“I think a lot of that is a by-product of the schedule; some is a by-product of your opponent. But when you can find that consistency, somebody — and I think that’ll be us — somebody is going to go on a run here and put together five, six, seven wins and create some distance in this league,” Murphy said.

Players also didn’t have much time to go through individual workouts, but Murphy said several players were planning on going into the gym on their own time Monday to fine-tune parts of their game.

“A lot the guys, we’re taking today off from practice — today is a study hall day and a film day — and they’re going in the gym to do work on their own, which I think tells you something about their mindset and where they’re at,” Murphy said.

Long, Washington clear the air

Junior forward Shawn Long and freshman forward Bryce Washington each apologized Monday for their brief comments after the team’s 96-59 win against Arkansas State last week.

After the win, Long, Washington and guard Hayward Register were made available for comment, but each responded to questions with deliberately short answers. Long’s response to each question was, “I’m thankful.”

The players said Monday it was meant to be a joke.

“We apologize for the misunderstanding,” Long said. “It was just a joke. We didn’t think everybody would take it so seriously. We’re just trying to make y’all laugh. We’re sorry for the miscommunication.”

Register was unable to join Long and Washington because of class obligations.

Any way possible

When asked about her team finding a way to win against Georgia State despite a 33 percent field-goal percentage, women’s basketball assistant coach Sallie Guillory first made it clear that the Cajuns haven’t really shot well all year.

Despite that fact, the Cajuns (13-5, 5-4) have managed to win five of their past six games thanks to an attacking defense and an ability to generate enough offense even when the shots aren’t falling.

In the Cajuns’ win over Georgia State, they forced 20 turnovers for the eighth consecutive game and knocked down 25 of their 35 free-throw attempts.

“In our wins, we get to the free-throw line at least 20 times,” Guillory said. “When we’re not getting to the free-throw line, we’re not attacking … we’re kind of settling for shots. We’re finding ways to create offense, whether it’s off turnovers or getting to the free-throw line.”