Basketball: UL mainstays carrying big loads
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Jan. 11, 2016
Things are going pretty well these days for the UL men and women’s basketball programs.
On the men’s side, coach Bob Marlin’s program is off to the best first-half start since the 1993-94 season at 12-4 with two more home games next on the schedule, beginning with Saturday against Georgia Southern.
Coach Garry Brodhead’s women’s team is 8-4 and 2-1 with two more home games left.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any concerns to keep an eye on moving forward, however.
Take injuries, for instance.
With the departure of sophomore Scotty Plaisance from the program, any additional injuries will impact the staff’s rotation options. Red-shirt freshman guard Kadavion Evans, who didn’t dress in Saturday’s 69-60 win over ULM, continues to battle a herniated disc. He’ll be sidelined at least another two weeks, before any decisions can be made about his availability for the rest of the season, according to Marlin.
Marlin also revealed in Monday’s weekly UL basketball press luncheon that Frank Bartley is still battling a wrist injury from earlier this season.
Making the staff’s decisions on handling playing time and devising effective rotations is the workhorse mentality of team leaders senior guard Jay Wright and junior forward Bryce Washington.
Sometimes it seems like neither one ever comes off the floor, but they actually do on occasion. Wright is averaging 33.8 minute a game, while Washington is a hair ahead of him at 34.1 minutes a contest.
“I’m not concerned at all,” Marlin said. “Jay’s like the Energizer bunny. He could play 40 minutes every game.”
Washington did limp off the court after Saturday’s win, but both he and Marlin declared him “OK” after the game.
At times, the schedule can help, although that won’t be an option much more from here on out. For example, being off this Monday meant Marlin could afford to play his workhorses a little longer Saturday.
“If not, we would have pulled back (on minutes) a little bit,” Marlin said.
Marlin didn’t hide his pleasure of his team having a Sunday off due to a bye date on the schedule.
“We’ll have one more in the next 10 weeks,” he said.
“It’s definitely very important for us to stay healthy.”
With five freshmen in the rotation, Marlin explained Monday that he has to limit some of their minutes at times.
For example, Jerekius Davis and Roydell Brown both played Saturday, but they played four and 12 minutes, respectively.
On the girls side, the injury situation affects the playing rotation as well.
Freshman point guard Jasmine Thomas only played 15 minutes with no points in Saturday’s win over ULM due to a tight hamstring.
“I thought that really hurt us on the offensive side in the second half,” Brodhead said. “We got stagnated on offense. She’s really developed into a good point guard for us.
“I think she’ll be ready (for Thursday’s game against Georgia State). She did a lot of complaining on the bench about not playing.”
Thomas’ progress as the floor leader has allowed senior Jaylyn Gordon to play more as a full-time scoring guard.
Gordon is the women’s version of Wright.
“Her motor never stops,” Brodhead said. “She just loves to play. When I left to come here (for press luncheon), Jaylyn was still there shooting. She’s worked extremely hard. She wants to win a championship.
“Her only thing about playing so many minutes is that on the defensive side, she takes a break every now and then.”
Like the men, Brodhead’s staff doesn’t have as deep a bench as originally expected due to senior guards Tiffany Washington and Sylvana Okde leaving the program. Add the fact that freshman Danyale Bayonne was lost for the season with an early-season knee injury and the bench got a lot shorter quickly.
Jodi Quinn also got her knee “banged up” Saturday, limiting her to 23 minutes, but “she’ll play through a lot.”
Sophomore center Breionne Cooper has since returned from her hand injury and Nekia Jones gained eligibility at mid-semester.
“Brie’s at 100 percent, so I think we’re as healthy as we’ve been in a while,” Brodhead said.
Without Thomas as a scoring option, though, the balanced scoring question returned for the women Saturday. Simone Fields stepped up big with 25 points, followed by Gordon with 19. But Troi Swain was the next leading scorer with seven on just 3-of-10 shooting from the field.
On the other hand, the men had five players averaging between nine and 16 points