Men's Basketball: Cue the circus music - The Cajuns were flying high
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Dec. 7, 2017
Wednesday night's was one of those shows in which the dunks were thunderous, the flying was high and it also seemed as if, at least for some, more time was spent above the rim than below it.
Cue the circus music.
UL’s 98-56 win over Loyola of New Orleans at Cajundome was, in other words, quite a slammin’ party, replete with aerialists.
“It’s real fun,” Ragin’ Cajuns big man JaKeenan Gant said of playing that way.
“It boosts everybody up, gives me more energy on defense and everything.”
Gant certainly had plenty of juice on the offensive end, scoring a career-high 23 points four nights after putting up a career-high 20 in a win at Nicholls.
The transfer from Missouri attributed it all to “just being in the right spot at the right time, basically. … Just being more aggressive, attacking the rim.”
Gant was up so frequently that someone was prompted afterward to jokingly ask him if he got tired of jumping so much.
“I don’t never get tired of jumping,” he said to laughs.
“We got him going,” Cajuns coach Bob Marlin added with reference to Gant, who came in averaging 15.5 points per game. “He was dunking the ball quite often in the second half, off some good passes.”
He wasn’t the only Cajun, either.
Johnathan Stove had some basket-shaking jams among his five field goals, and Jerekius Davis got in on the high-wire act too while going 5-for-6 from the field off the bench.
“I’m going on pure adrenaline,” said Stove, who was playing in his third game back after missing in a row with a heel/ankle injury.
“Really, I’m just trying to play above the rim at all times. I know that electrifies the team. … It’s a good play. You go in there strong; if you get fouled, you still (go to the free-throw line).
“If you go in there trying to lay it up, especially at our size,” the 6-foot-4 Stove added, “nine times out of 10 you might get it blocked. So you’ve got to go in there strong and make a good play.”
Stove and especially Gant were able to play that way a lot Wednesday, and for that Stove lobbed up a shout out to point guard Marcus Stroman on a night had UL had 18 assists including four each from Stroman, Stove and Justin Miller.
“Marcus gets us easy layups all the time; other teammates do,” Stove said. “We’re cutting backdoor; they’re throwing the ball up. … It’s a team thing.”
“We’re playing team ball,” Gant added. “Coming together.”
“We’re getting better. It’s a process. We’re growing each day, and coming together as a team,” he said. “We see the plays we make in practice, and we know we’re capable of making those.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Stove and Malik Marquetti each had 13 points and Davis added 12 for the Cajuns. … UL’s Bryce Washington pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. … UL won 43-24 on the boards against the out-sized Wolf Pack, which was without season-scoring leader Nick Parker (18.5 points per game). … The Cajuns also shot 13-for-26 from 3-point range, and seven of them — P.J. Hardy (3-for-4), Marquetti (3-for-5), Davis (2-for-3), Gant (2-for-4), Miller, Cedric Russell and Jacob Broussard — had at least one trey.
Stroman returned after missing one game with a hip pointer, and Marlin said “you could tell conditioning was a little bit of an issue missing four days.”
“I don’t think he had the wind that he needed, although I thought he played fine,” the Cajuns coach said of Stroman, who was scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting (both trey tries) in 18 minutes.
New UL point guard Stroman: 'Now I just get to grow up'
UL was also without usual starter and No. 2 scorer Frank Bartley IV (15.9 ppg).
Bartley rolled an ankle while trying to go for a steal late in practice Tuesday, and was wearing a walking boot Wednesday night.
“He wanted to try to play (Wednesday),” Marlin said. “but there was no way.”
Marlin said he thought Bartley “should be” good to go when the Cajuns play again.
UL, in the midst of exam week, is off until visiting Louisiana Tech on Tuesday night.
With Bartley out Wednesday, Stroman, Stove, Marquetti and usual bigs Washington and Gant started Wednesday.