Men's Basketball: Ragin' Cajuns basketball team not immune from COVID-19 issues
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Oct. 2, 2020
The UL basketball team has had instances where it has had to halt offseason workouts because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Ragin’ Cajuns coach Bob Marlin said when asked Wednesday.
“We’ve had a couple situations, just like a lot of people, a lot of colleges have had, where we’ve had to pause practice for a few days,” Marlin said during a Zoom news conference. “But currently we’re right back at it.”
Marlin did not specify when the pauses occurred, but the last time he spoke to media members – about six weeks ago – his team had had no COVID-19 issues to that point. He also did not specify if the problems were because of positive tests, contact tracing or some combination of the.
“Guys are doing a good job,” Marlin said, “and we’re trying our best to get to the court.
“We’ve got a team that really believes in each other. We’ve got a true team this year that I feel like it’s gonna be entertaining. It will be exciting, and we’ll have a great opportunity to win the (Sun Belt) conference.”
UL athletic director Bryan Maggard said Thursday morning that Cajun basketball players were expected to practice Thursday afternoon, and going forward.
“I am not aware of any derailment right now for that program, Maggard said.
To date, UL and other NCAA basketball programs have been permitted to practice players only a limited number of hours per week – as is typical before preseason camp formally opens.
The Cajuns start their six-week full practice period Oct. 14.
Due to COVID-19 related delays, however, their season – and that of other NCAA Division I teams – will not start until Nov. 25, 15 days later than originally planned.
The pandemic has caused problems for all sorts of college sports programs, including the 3-0 Cajuns football team, which was missing 13 players including seven starters for last Saturday’s 20-18 win over Georgia Southern because of either positive tests, symptoms of the illness and/or recent or current contact tracing quarantine.
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The UL basketball team was to have opened its 2020-21 season at Texas on Nov. 10, but Marlin said Wednesday that game will be not be played this season and that it instead will be played “in the next couple years.”
Marlin said the Cajuns no longer plan to play at Southern Miss this season, either, as originally scheduled for this November.
UL has not yet released what games it will play.
The Cajuns had planned to play four times during the lost Nov. 10-24 time period; Marlin indicated UL may still try to reschedule two of those games, and play seven non-conference games, but he did not identify the opponents.
“We’re still trying to make sure that the teams we are playing for our home games adhere to the Sun Belt protocol for (COVID-19) testing,” he said, “and we’re kind of waiting on that to see exactly where it goes.
“But we know what we want to have completed.”
The Sun Belt has not yet announced its full COVID-19 basketball protocols, but Marlin said 2-to-3 tests per week has been discussed among coaches and SBC athletic directors.
“We’ve got make sure our conference gets the minimum number of games in to qualify for the NCAA Tournament,” the Cajuns coach said.
That magic number is 13.
“The schedule is still fluid,” Marlin said. “We’re trying to pencil in the last couple dates.”
The Sun Belt Conference released its schedule for UL and league members Thursday.
It is an 18-game regular-season conference slate, the same as originally planned, and its Dec. 31 for the Cajuns at South Alabama.
The first SBC home game for UL is Jan. 7 against Georgia State and the final regular-season game for the Cajuns is Feb. 27 at Little Rock, followed by the March 5-8 Sun Belt Tournament at its new locale of Pensacola, Florida.
Six of the 10 games in January for UL are home, down one from the seven originally expected. Still, that will be a busy month for the Cajuns. Five of the seven February games for UL are on the road.
“So January will be a very important month for us to get out of the gates early in Sun Belt Conference play,” Marlin said.
The Cajuns have added freshman guard Kentrell Garnett, a product of Catholic High in Baton Rouge, to their roster as a walk-on, Marlin said Wednesday.
“(He) averaged about 27 (points) a game in high school, I believe,” Marlin said, “and he’s really done a nice job defensively for us and shooting the basketball.
“A fine young man, and we feel confident he can step in and help us … when the time comes.”
Junior college transfer guard Brayan Au underwent surgery “about a week-and-a-half-ago” to have “a piece of floating cartilage … behind his knee taken out,” but is “doing tremendous” and “should be ready to go” for the start of preseason practice on Oct. 14, Marlin said. … But point guard Trajan Wesley “still is having a little bit of issues with his foot and has not been able to practice consistently yet,” according to Marlin. … Marlin said starting forward Kobe Julien, who missed much of last season following surgery to repair knee damage sustained during non-conference play, “has worked his way back in” and is expected to be “officially cleared” Oct. 6. … Guard Durey Cadwell, out all last season with a knee injury, “is close to being cleared” and should join Julien in being ready for the start of preseason practice, Marlin also said.
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UL recently learned Julien has been granted a sixth season of eligibility because he missed all of 2018-19 due to a knee injury sustained in high school and most of last season as well, so – according to Marlin – he essentially will be a third-year freshman this season. … But the Cajuns still are waiting for a transfer waiver ruling on whether Cal transfer guard Jacobi Gordon will be eligible for 2020-21 or if he’ll have to sit out a year, Marlin said Wednesday. … The Cajuns have not yet learned how many spectators will be permitted inside the Cajundome with COVID-19 restrictions in place, but UL is currently renewing season tickets and – according to Marlin – at least 25 percent capacity is possible.