LAFAYETTE — The team that counted on defense as its calling card last season will be making some changes on the offensive end.
As the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team works through preseason practices, the early focus has been to tune up the offensive performance to team that with a group that allowed 58.9 points a game last season, which was third-best in the Sun Belt.
The arrival of assistant coach Katherine Katz, who spent five seasons as an assistant at Samford, is part of that process. “The Samford coaches on the guys’ side were doing a lot of Princeton (offense) stuff,” coach Garry Brodhead said. “We are just doing entries into it that we really like. I had the opportunity to coach against it, and we couldn’t stop it. We are adding some of those things. A lot of high-post (plays) for our post players.”
It is one part of the growth of a team that captured a Women’s Basketball Invitational championship and won 23 games last season.
“We feel like we have brought this program to a little bit of a higher level,” Brodhead said. “This is where it starts. Can we get it to the next level? We want to compete for a conference championship, and our main goal is to get in the NCAA tournament.”
The Cajuns open with an exhibition game against LSU-Alexandria on Nov. 9. The regular season opener at Ole Miss is Nov. 15.
Within that more structured offense, there is also the element of guards Kia Wilridge and Keke Veal being a threat individually if the shot clock winds down.
Both seniors were named preseason All-Sun Belt second team by College Sports Madness.
“The hardest thing in women’s basketball is to find a player who can create for herself and create for other people,” Brodhead said. “It’s really difficult to create for other people. Both of those kids, if you put the ball in their hands with under 10 seconds on the shot clock, they can create for themselves and other people.”
The softball effect
As the Cajuns work on improving their shooting accuracy, which checked in at 37.9 percent last season, there is a visual cue that comes from the UL-Lafayette softball complex that Brodhead credited as being influential.
“I take a page out of Mike Lotief’s book (the UL-Lafayette softball coach),” Brodhead said. “They are in the cage pounding the ball and pounding the ball. We are doing the same thing ... pounding it on shooting. We are putting a lot more time than ever on that.”
Fresh face from Dallas
Jordan Alexander, a 6-foot-1 freshman forward from Dallas, has made an impression on the coaching staff with her versatility.
“A couple of coaches called and told me, ‘coach, if you could build a basketball player, you would build Jordan,’ ” Brodhead said. “She can shoot the 3, put the ball on the floor and get to the rim. She is going to be an undersized stretch four (power-forward). How consistent is she going to be? I don’t know. But I am probably a little too excited about her.”