A Year in Review
Basketball freshmen will provide power next season
The 2017 Sun Belt Conference Tournament concluded with the crowning of Troy as the men’s and women’s champions. The Cajuns fell short of their hopes in winning the conference title and nabbing a place in the NCAA tournament.
The women’s team defeated UL Monroe, Texas State and Little Rock to face Troy in the SBC championship game. They have had two appearances in the title game before but were unable to capture the trophy in either game. The Cajuns faced the Trojans and sought their first-ever Sun Belt championship in women’s basketball.
However, the Troy defeated the Cajuns 78-64 to wrap up the SBC season.
The women’s team finished the season with a 20-11 overall record, with senior guard Jaylyn Gordon ending her college career as the 2016-17 leading scorer in the conference. Gordon averaged 18.0 points per game. Head coach Garry Brodhead earned his third straight season of 20-plus wins.
As a whole, the team finished second in the conference in scoring with 69.5 points per game while shooting a second-best 42 percent from the field. Seniors Gordon and Gabby Alexander will be moving on after the season, but the women’s basketball team can expect to bring back all of the same cast from this season. Freshman guard Jasmine Thomas’ emergence this last season proved she will be in the starting lineup for the next three years. Juniors Troi Swain, Nekia Jones and Simone Fields have another year of experience under their belts and will provide veteran leadership throughout the next season.
There is no doubt that the women’s basketball program is taking positive steps forward and has proven to be a successful Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns team.
The men’s basketball team faced a loss to Georgia State by the score of 86-76. The Cajuns entered the tournament on a six-game winning streak and advanced after beating Little Rock in their opening round 78-71. Senior Jay Wright ended his career by averaging 25.5 points per game in the conference tournament. He finished eighth in scoring for the 2016-17 season at 16.2. On top of that, Wright became the 44th player in Cajuns basketball history to reach 1,000 career points.
The men’s team ended the campaign with a 21-12 record. The Cajuns have the possibility of returning with the same players on the roster, as Wright is the only senior. Junior guard Frank Bartley impressed by finishing the season 10th in the conference in scoring (15.3 ppg). Having a double-double machine like junior forward Bryce Washington returning for another season will help progress the Cajuns next year.
One similarity the men’s and women’s teams share are freshman standouts. The women’s team has Thomas, while the men’s team found their starting forward next to Washington in Justin Miller. Miller averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while hovering around 47 percent shooting from the field and 72 percent from the free throw line.
It will be tough to tell if the men’s team will continue to be the best offensive team, but this offseason will give the Cajuns team to sure up their defense. Offense comes easy for Louisiana. They did finish first in the conference in scoring at 81.9 points per game.
While the Cajuns will surely miss the likes of Gordon, Alexander and Wright, there is plenty of optimism for the both basketball teams after the 2016-17 season. Other players such as Fields, Thomas, Bartley and Miller have given signs that their respective teams will be able to improve on a successful season.