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Former Basketball: Marlin bringing back Hatfield, Paschal eras with reunion – reunion links provided

Bobby Ardoin, The Advertiser, Jan. 21, 2015


Bobby Paschal brought Ragin’ Cajun basketball back to the NCAA Tournament twice, NIT quarterfinals and NIT Final Four during his tenure.(Photo: File Photo)

A weekend filled with reunions, friendships and remembrances Feb. 6-7 will highlight an era when the college basketball lights shone once again at Blackham Coliseum.

UL plans to salute the accomplishments of the Cajuns’ men’s basketball teams from 1974-86 coached by Jim Hatfield and Bobby Paschal, with a series of socials followed by special Cajundome ceremonies before and at halftime of the team’s Sun Belt Conference basketball game against Texas-Arlington.

Cajuns’ men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin said he wants to share the important roles that Hatfield and Paschal played in returning the school’s basketball program to prominence.

Hatfield coached what was then USL from 1976-78. Paschal was the program’s men’s coach from 1979-86.

Both coaches followed the Beryl Shipley era (1958-73).

After determining that the school had apparently committed rules violations under Shipley, the NCAA prohibited the USL men’s basketball program from competing for two seasons (1973-74 and 1974-75).

Players who were at the school when the program was disbanded, were allowed to transfer and compete elsewhere.

Marlin said that Hatfield, who first took over the program following the two years of NCAA suspension and Paschal, who later brought the Cajuns to several NCAA and NIT tournaments, deserve special recognition.

“I decided we should do something for the group that got us back after the Shipley era. I know how much (Hatfield and Paschal) loved it here, coaching (USL).

“I talked to (Hatfield and Paschal) about getting a group back together that played for them while they were at the school. I’ve also talked to some of the players and some have said they are coming back for the reunion,” Marlin said.

Marlin said the Hatfield-Paschal weekend will conducted in a fashion similar to the one he orchestrated for Shipley and his former players back in 2011.

“We’ve done a lot since I started coaching here to honor the great basketball tradition that we have had here in men’s basketball. We started off with the Shipley reunion, by having coach (Shipley), who was sick at the time, honored along with his players, the Shipley boys back for a weekend.

“We’re trying do the same thing for (Hatfield and Paschal) and their players,” said Marlin.

In addition to have the two sets of reunions, Marlin said his efforts to celebrate standouts on the men’s basketball teams of previous eras have included retiring the USL jerseys of former standouts Dean Church and Jerry Flake.

Church, who wore No. 12, was the school’s initial All-America player. Church was named All-American when the school played in the NAIA division.

He holds the school record for free throws made (227) and three other records established in connection for his performances from the free throw line.

Flake was a two-time All-American and one of only five players in school history to record 2,000 career points.

Marlin said he has talked to former USL standout Andrew Toney, who played for the Cajuns under both Paschal and Hatfield.

Toney is the Cajuns’ second all-time leading scorer and played with the Philadelphia 76ers from 1980-89.

“I spoke with Andrew by telephone and I had a good conversation with him. At time we spoke, (Toney) said he would like to attend the reunion, but I haven’t gotten back with him,” Marlin said.

Marlin said Hatfield is now retired and living in Panama City. Hatfield came to USL from the University of Kentucky where he was on the staff of Joe B. Hall.

Hatfield had to reestablish the program with players who had been recruited while the program was suspended in addition seeking others after he was named head coach..

The Cajuns were 47-35 under Hatfield before he left Lafayette to become the head coach at Mississippi State.

While at MSU, Hatfield coached Butch Pierre, a point guard, who later became an assistant coach at USL under Marty Fletcher.

Paschal, who served as an assistant under Hatfield, was 153-85 in his career at USL. Paschal left the Cajuns to become head coach at the University of South Florida.

Marlin said Paschal still has ties to Lafayette.

“Bobby has a granddaughter living in Lafayette and he was here not too long ago for several weeks after his great granddaughter was born,” Marlin said.

Under Paschal the Cajuns went to four NIT tournaments. USL reached the NIT’s Final Four in 1984 in Madison Square Garden.

Paschal’s 1981-82 team reached the NCAA Mideast Regional after winning the Southland Conference championship.

That NCAA appearance was the Cajuns’ first since 1973 when Shipley’s team played in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Wichita, Kansas.

During the 1982-83 season, the Cajuns made a second straight NCAA appearance under Paschal.

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas

Please click here for the Hatfield/Paschal Reunion page on the Athletic Network.