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Men’s Basketball: Chance to pass Ebron one reason Long stayed at UL

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, November 24, 2015


NCAA Basketball: Louisiana-Lafayette at Miami

Cajuns forward Shawn Long (21) shoots a free throw against Miami on Nov. 15.(Photo: Steve Mitchell/USA Today)


Speaking of the late Roy Ebron, Bob Marlin — who got to know the man after becoming head coach of the Ragin’ Cajuns — put into perspective Tuesday just how meaningful UL senior big man Shawn Long’s most-recent accomplishment is.

He did so by lending historical context to Long passing Ebron and becoming the Cajuns’ all-time rebounder leader.

“He (Ebron) was the Shawn Long, back in the day, to Bo Lamar,” Marlin said.

It was from 1970-73 — over three seasons under coach Beryl Shipley, before then-Southwestern Louisiana was given the NCAA death penalty and shut down for two years because of a multitude of rules violations — that Ebron pulled down 1,064 rebounds and helped the then-Bulldogs to two later-vacated NCAA Tournament appearances.

Long went into this season — one many thought might never happen at UL — needing just 29 boards to leapfrog Ebron.

The Morgan City product did so with the tip-in putback of a Steven Wronskoski miss in a loss last Friday night at Alabama.

He heads into Wednesday night’s game at the Cajundome against Loyola of New Orleans with 1,068, making Long one of just three players in Sun Belt Conference history with at least 1,000 and leaving him 116 shy — achievable this season — of passing former South Alabama big man Augustine Rubit (1,183) for the most in league history.

Long, Ebron and Marcus Stokes (1,046 in the late 1980s and early 1990s) are the only Cajuns with more than 1,000, while Dion Brown (926 in the early-to-mid 1980s) and Reginald Poole (842 in the mid-1990s) join them among the only five with more than 800.

“To get the all-time record was an honor,” Long said prior to practice Tuesday.

“To be even mentioned in the same sentence with some of those guys that came before me is an honor. So I just kind of take it one step at a time and just remain humble and try to build on it and try to make it unreachable.”

Long said he never got know Ebron, who played one season with the ABA’s old Utah Stars before embarking on a career overseas.

Ebron eventually became estranged from the Cajun program, mostly because he lost touch with former teammates.

Roy Ebron (1970-73) was one of the best scorers and

Roy Ebron (1970-73) was one of the best scorers and rebounders in the program’s history. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)

He passed in September 2014, after a lengthy battle with diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Nobody knew where I was,” Ebron, later found by ex-teammate Steve Caldwell in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, told the Daily Advertiser in 2011, when he was finally reunited. “They couldn’t find me. I was moving too fast.”

Caldwell and Steve Greene, who also played for then-USL, never forgot just how great of a rebounder Ebron was, or how he helped Lamar become UL’s all-time leading scorer, a title he still holds.

(Long needs three points Wednesday to pass Graylin Warner for sixth place on that list, and perhaps can get to as high as third behind Lamar and Andrew Toney).

“Him and Bo complemented each other,” Caldwell said after he died, "and it was a great ride they had."

“If Bo missed, Roy got the rebound, putback,” Greene added. “That was how Roy got his points.”

It’s similar to how Long gets plenty of his, although the big guy likes to extend his game and shoot from the outside too.

“People don’t really notice … but I’ve got a lot of tricks,” said Long, whose 1-2 Cajuns also lost last week at Miami.

“I can’t talk about that, but I’ve got a lot of methods to getting rebounds. … Angles have a lot to do with it, but there’s a lot more to it than people think.

“It’s not an easy task,” he added, “especially against bigger guys like those Miami guys and those Alabama guys — quality post players.”

The chance to pass Ebron, Long suggested Monday, was one reason he decided to stay at UL rather than turn pro, as some suspected he would after his junior season.

“I started a lot,” said Long, who along with current Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton helped UL win the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Tournament and go to the NCAA Tournament. “I figured, ‘Why not finish it?’ That was definitely a factor in my decision.”

So too, though, was making himself a more polished pro prospect.

Had Long not stayed, it’s uncertain if he would have been a first-round NBA Draft choice. Now, he has a better shot.

“A lot of people, you get drafted, you could be like, ‘Who’s that guy?’ a few years from now,” said Long, the Sun Belt’s Preseason Player of the Year and a member USA Basketball’s Pan-Am Games team earlier this year. “I just want to have a long career. That’s my goal — not just to make it, but to have a long career.”

Consistent rebounding could go a long way toward just that, and Long — who had a 25-point, 14-rebound double-double at Alabama — understands that.

It’s why he wants to be known for what some consider a craft and others deem to be an art.

“I think it’s one of those things people really don’t take seriously,” Long said. “They take it for granted. It’s the dirty work a lot of people don’t want to do.

“So I think if you get real good at rebounding, like Coach (Marlin) always says … ‘You’ll never hear a coach say, ‘We’ve got too many rebounders on the team.’

“You can always have enough scoring and whatnot,” he added, “but you can never have enough rebounders and shot-blockers.”

That’s why Marlin stays on Long about it, constantly reminding him he’s the conference’s best rebounder.

The result: Long is the nation’s active leader in double-doubles with 54, 12 more than next-closest Jameel Warney of Stoney Brook; the Cajuns led the Sun Belt in rebounding last season, when Long averaged 10.2 per game; and Long averages 10.3 so far this season.

“Every game pretty much Coach is in my ear,” Long said. “It kind of boosts my confidence, so every ball I see I try to get after it.”

That’s helped him get past Ebron, someone Long never met.

“Unfortunately I didn’t,” Long said, “but talking to Coach he had nothing but good things to say about the guy. He told me he was a heckuva player, so I’m just honored.”

In May 2014, about five months before he died, Ebron was inducted into the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, an honor Marlin helped to facilitate.

Although he passed with his school record intact, Marlin wishes he was around to have seen it snapped.

“It’s a shame,” the Cajun coach said Tuesday, “that he’s not here to come back and present Shawn with an award before (Wednesday’s) game.”

 UL (1-2) vs. LOYOLA (4-3)

   WHAT: Non-conference game

   WHERE: Cajundome (11,550)

   WHEN: 7 p.m.

   RADIO: KHXT 107.9 FM with Jay Walker

   TV/ONLINE: None  


   ABOUT THE OPPONENT: Loyola of New Orleans, an NAIA program, is coming off Monday’s 88-79 Southern States Athletic Conference home loss to Auburn-Montgomery. … Junior G Jalen Gray leads the Wolf Pack with 17.7 points per game. … Loyola leads the all-time series 16-14, but UL has won the only two meetings since 1958 (in 2001 and 2003).

   ABOUT THE CAJUNS: UL is coming off consecutive road losses, falling 93-77 on Nov. 16 at Miami and 105-93 at Alabama last Friday. … C/PF Shawn Long averages a team-high 20.0 ppg, G Kasey Shepherd 15.0, PG Jay Wright 10.3 and PF Devonta Walker 10.0. … Long also averages 10.7 rebounds. … After Wednesday night, UL does not play at home again until Dec. 9 vs. McNeese State.