Men's Basketball: Ragin' Cajuns Officially Open Practice
LAFAYETTE – Head coach Bob Marlin officially welcomed back four starters and a veteran roster on Friday as the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball team officially opened practice for the 2017-18 season at the Moncla Indoor Practice Facility.
Louisiana, which finished 21-12 overall last season, returns 10 letterwinners plus and added five newcomers to a roster that averaged 81.9 points per game last season and outrebounded its opponents by 5.9 per game.
"We're anxious to get started," Marlin said. "Obviously going to Cuba this summer, having 10 good practices (before) and playing three very competitive games got us a lot farther along in getting ready for the season. I'm excited about this group. This is a good group, they're fun to coach and they're going to be fun to watch this season."
Paced by a solid trio of seniors in Bryce Washington, Frank Bartley and Johnathan Stove, the Ragin' Cajuns return seven of their top eight scorers. Bartley, the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year, averaged 15.3 points per game in his first season with the Ragin' Cajuns with Washington finishing as the lone player in the league to average a double-double (13.5 points and 11.2 rebounds).
"One of the areas we need to focus on is defense," Marlin said. "We struggled last year against a really good group of guards in the (Sun Belt) conference. With (Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year) Jay Wright, Frank Bartley and Johnathan Stove, we felt we had three wing defenders who could play. We had some injuries and inconsistencies and we struggled. We've got to be better as a team defensively and we feel our hard work this summer paid off."
The 2017-18 season will also feature the debut for Louisiana's three Division I transfers – forward Ja'Keenan Gant (Missouri), guard Malik Marquetti (USC) and guard Marcus Stroman (South Carolina). A pair of freshmen – former Peabody Magnet guard Cedric Russell and California native Elijah McCoy – will provide quality depth.
"We've got more depth that we had last year and we've got older depth," Marlin said. "Last year, we had some freshman who stepped up and played a lot of minutes for us. This year, these guys are older and we were able to add a couple of freshman in Cedric and Eli who we think are going to be able to help us."
Louisiana will face Millsaps College in an exhibition game on Nov. 2 in the Cajundome before officially opening its season on Nov. 10 against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
The Ragin' Cajuns will open their home schedule on Nov. 14 against Louisiana College and will face Louisiana Tech (Dec. 12), Clemson (Dec. 22) in featured non-conference road contests along with competing in the inaugural Cayman Islands Classic on Nov. 20-22, opening with Big 10 opponent Iowa.
Season ticket are available from the Cajundome Box Office or on-line at RaginCajuns.com.