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Women’s Basketball: Players shocked by news

Women’s Basketball: Players shocked by news

Women’s Basketball: Players shocked by news

Hall’s exit takes Cajun women by surprise

When word broke early Wednesday morning that UL women’s basketball coach J. Kelley Hall was leaving the program to become the new head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Ragin’ Cajun players were understandably shocked.

"I was like ‘wow,’ " said Cajun junior guard Onna Charles, who was recruited by Hall following her stellar career at New Iberia Senior High. "We knew there was a possibility he could leave because we did something big here. He’ll be missed."

Although they weren’t mad at Hall for leaving them, following the program’s most successful season in which they earned a first-ever NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the players weren’t happy with how they found out.

"I found out (Wednesday) morning from one of my teammates, who called and told me to look at the paper," Charles said. "Then I got a text message from coach Meredith (Hall) telling us everything. I don’t think anyone on the team is angry at him because we understand that he has to do what’s best for he and his family. We just would have preferred to be aware."

Sophomore guard Whitney Dunlap agreed.

"You always know there is a chance something like this can happen, when you do big things," Dunlap said. "But I had no idea he left until one of my teammates told me. I’m not mad, but I just wish we could have found out differently."

Not only did the Cajuns qualify for the NCAA Tournament, they won 25 games en route to claiming the Sun Belt Conference’s West Division title for the second time in three years. The 25 victories were the most ever for the UL program.

"It’s disappointing," Dunlap said. "We’re coming off a very good year and we have a lot of players coming back."

At least one Cajun signee, Lyndra Bell of Teurlings , said Hall’s departure won’t affect the decision she made.

"Coach Hall changed the program and he did a good job," Bell said. "But I also wanted to go to UL because of the players on the team and the school itself. I’m still going to go there."

Charles believes her teammates understand Hall’s decision was a business one and not personal.

"We’re old enough to understand that at some point you have to do what’s best for you and your family," Charles said. "We’re sad he’s leaving, but we aren’t selfish. We want what’s best for him and now we just have to work harder as a team, because each other is all we have."

Advertiser file photo/Brad Kemp

UL guard Onna Charles, left, was shocked by J. Kelley Hall’s resignation as UL’s head basketball coach but said the plateys wish him and his wife, Meredith, the best as he leaves to become the women’s head basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati.