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Men’s Basketball: Wallace Hot

Cajun freshman forward shines, makes his point

Dan McDonald
dmcdonald@theadvertiser.com

There are still tons of questions surrounding UL’s men’s basketball squad heading into the 2006-07 season, but one thing’s not in question.
When the Ragin’ Cajuns open their season Monday night in an exhibition contest against Spring Hill College, freshman forward Courtney Wallace will be playing.

“He might as well have said, ‘Coach, I’m playing,'” Lee said. “With what he’s done in practice, he’s made that decision for us, freshman or not.”

Wallace is one of five freshman signees and one of seven newcomers that will don a UL uniform for the first time in Monday’s 7:05 p.m. exhibition contest, part of a season-tipoff twinbill at the Cajundome. UL’s women’s squad faces Arkansas Tech at 4:30 p.m. in the opening game.
Lee said the 6-foot-8 Wallace could join returnees Ross Mouton, Adam James and Rhett Hebert and now-eligible transfer David Dees in the starting lineup Monday.

“Our only question right now is at the power forward, where Courtney and Valentino (returnee Valentino Hart) have both been working,” Lee said. “We’ve really been impressed with Courtney in practice, his toughness and how hard he competes. He’s going to be on the court somewhere for us.”

Wallace will be playing for his third team in three years, but will also be playing for the third year at the ‘Dome. He was standout at New Orleans’ Brother Martin as a junior when the Crusaders won two games by double-digit margins in winning the Top 28 Class 5A crown at the Cajundome.

Last March, after Hurricane Katrina’s ravages on the Crescent City forced him to find shelter at Woodlawn High in Baton Rouge, he led that squad back to the Class 5A finals. Woodlawn lost to John Ehret 62-57 in last year’s title game.

Now, though, the competition will be a little better, including Monday night. NAIA member Spring Hill is coming off a 22-9 season and has three starters back, and the Mobile, Ala., school led Florida State by five points at halftime of a Tuesday exhibition game before falling 90-72.

The Cajuns enter Monday’s game with only four healthy returnees from last year’s 13-16 squad that rallied at the end of the season to win eight of 10 games in February-March and finish second in the Sun Belt West Division. Senior guard Maurice Barksdale, an anticipated returnee, had season-ending wrist surgery last week.

“I can’t give a lot of answers because I don’t know what we’ll look like,” Lee said. “We’ve had good practices and bad practices, and I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”

UL had a scrimmage with Southern last Saturday at Blackham Coliseum, going behind closed doors by NCAA rules, and Monday’s game will be the Cajuns’ first time in the Cajundome since mid-September.

“Offensively, we were about a seven,” Lee said Thursday when asked to rate his team’s performance against SU on a 1-10 scale. “Defensively, it was about a four. We shot the ball really well from the perimeter, and that’s something this team’s going to have to do every night.

“Defensively, we weren’t able to contain dribble penetration, and our guys need to understand how important that is for us. We know we’re going to have to defend a lot better.”

UL Basketball Exhibitions

Monday night at the Cajundome

4:30 p.m. – UL vs. Arkansas Tech

7:05 p.m. – UL vs. Spring Hill College

Tickets available at the Cajundome box office beginning at 10 a.m. Monday.

Originally published November 5, 2006