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Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns basketball coach Bob Marlin tests positive for COVID-19; who coaches now?

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Jan. 25, 2021

UL men’s basketball coach Bob Marlin tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Ragin’ Cajun road games Friday and Saturday at Texas State, the program announced  Monday.

According to a statement from the school, Marlin “tested positive during routine antigen testing” Sunday morning “while experiencing some mild symptoms.”

“A subsequent PCR test administered Sunday afternoon yielded a positive result” Monday morning, UL added.

“He feels well. … But that’s today. You know, this thing can change hour-by-hour,” Mike Murphy, UL’s director of basketball operations, told The Daily Advertiser. “But right now he feels good. As well as can be. He’s really ticked off he can’t be with the team, especially in practice leading up to this weekend.”

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The Cajuns (11-4, 5-3 Sun Belt Conference) are coming off last weekend’s home sweep of Arkansas State.

Assistant coach Neil Hardin, Marlin’s longtime right-hand man, will take the lead coaching role, Murphy said. Hardin had scouting responsibilities prior to UL’s two-game home split with Texas State that opened SBC play earlier this month, according to Murphy. 

Hardin typically works with the team’s offense, assistant Brock Morris focuses on defense and assistant Josten Crow helps with both. Marlin’s other responsibilities will be divided by the coaching staff during his absence and the program “will continue day-to-day operations as scheduled,” according to the school.

“The process is in place, and we’re all fairly experienced guys,” Murphy said. “We’ve been around a little bit, so we’ll be able to make this work. … Having said that, when the boss isn’t there it’s a challenge, and everyone is gonna have to step up their game.”

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Cajuns players weren’t scheduled to practice Monday and are schedule to be tested Tuesday, according to Murphy.

Marlin has been UL’s coach since the 2010-11 season. The longest tenured active Sun Belt coach, he’s No. 2 on the all-time SBC wins list with 114 and four shy of passing former Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis for the lead. 

Starting forward Dou Gueye missed the Texas State games due to COVID protocol. Multiple staff members missed a December win over McNeese for the same reason.

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Murphy was among those staff members. He said he was out because he’d tested positive.

Cajuns football coach Billy Napier also missed time during the 2020 season when he tested positive for COVID-19.

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