It’s not that UL women’s basketball coach Garry Brodhead voted to play his first four and six of his first eight Sun Belt Conference games on the road.
But after not playing this past weekend due to COVID-19 issues inside Little Rock’s program, Brodhead said Monday he wish his team would have been able to play.
“I would have much rather play,” Brodhead said. “ I thought we were ready. After the last game at Texas State, I thought we improved. I was excited about continuing to see that improvement.
“The way it’s going to turn out actually I thought we were going to have everybody this weekend. We really felt good about them being back for that series at Little Rock, but now you didn’t play it.”
His Cajuns (2-5, 1-1) will get that next chance to build on that 67-41 road win when UTA comes to the Cajundome for a 6 p.m. game Friday and then a 4 p.m. rematch Saturday.
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Back for the Cajuns are 6-1 senior forward Ty Doucet, as well as 5-11 freshman forward Tamera Johnson. While Doucet could have played at Little Rock over the weekend, Johnson didn’t return to practice until Monday with a mask after suffering a broken nose in practice “two Mondays ago,” according to Brodhead.
“She got her mask on today and she’s ready to roll,” he said. “This kid is tough. She got a little concussion with the broken nose and that was kind of holding her back a little bit, but today in practice, she looked good. She was getting up and down the floor like nothing happened. These new masks they have are pretty clear.”
Johnson has showed some the rare ability to pick up Brodhead’s defense right away, so her return is a plus.
As for making up the postponed games against Little Rock, the most likely makeup dates figure to be Jan. 25-27 range after traveling to Arkansas State on Jan. 22-23 or Feb. 15-17 after playing at ULM on Feb. 13.
“That’s what the conference is trying to do,” Brodhead said. “They’re trying to figure out how you can play them.
“That’s a lot of games in a little bit of time. I don’t know how that’s going to work out. Nobody has any byes.”
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The good thing is Brodhead said his team has learned how to roll with the punches during these complicated COVID-19 times.
“We have some young women who are really working hard and want to play,” Brodhead said. “I think that’s half the battle, trying to keep them moving forward.
It doesn’t seem to bother our players or our coaching staff so far, so you just kind of keep going like everybody else in the world.”
Brodhead said the team scrimmaged Friday to put them in more game-like situations after missing out on the Little Rock road series.
“I don’t think they think about it too much,” he said of his team dealing with the changes. “I think they just move forward. Last year, going through not being able to play for the tournament, they know we’re going to have sacrifice a little bit to get to the tournament. Sacrifice a lot of uncertainty … from the classroom on.
“They’re very resilient when it comes to change. I’m really surprised how nobody complains about it.”
The real challenge, however, could come on the weeks when the makeup games are played.
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“How is it going to add up when we start playing a ton of games in a row like that – can you keep your focus and can you stay healthy?,” Brodhead said.
While the Cajuns were off, Arkansas State remained the only undefeated team in the standings - not counting Georgia State, which has had all four league games postponed so far.
Coming to Lafayette this weekend will be a 3-1 UTA squad.