Nov 5, 2012 10:50 PM by UL Sports Information
Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball head coach Bob Marlin gets a chance to put his young team through game-type situations before this Sunday's regular season opener, as his squad hosts Loyola-New Orleans in an exhibition at the Cajundome on Tuesday.
Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m., in a contest that also gives Ragin' Cajuns fans their "first look" at the squad that is set to take the floor for the 100th season of UL hoops.
Tuesday's contest marks the first public exhibition game for Louisiana since Marlin's inaugural campaign in 2010-11. The Ragin' Cajuns defeated Montevallo 70-56 on Nov. 9, 2010. Louisiana has won its last 14 exhibition contests dating back to the 2000-01 season.
Loyola-New Orleans, a member of NAIA's Southern State Athletic Conference, began its 2012-13 season this past weekend with wins over Carver College (W, 78-54 on Nov. 3) and Morehouse College (W, 74-69 in OT on Nov. 4). The meeting with the Cajuns is the first of two exhibitions for the Wolf Pack who are scheduled to meet Tulane on Nov. 27 in New Orleans in an exhibition.
Following the exhibition with Loyola, the Ragin' Cajuns have four days to prepare for the official start of the 100th season of UL hoops against Oakland (Mich.) University on Sunday, Nov. 11. The Oakland contest not only starts the 2012-13 regular season, but is the first of four games in the Spartan Showcase presented by Auto-Owners Insurance that wraps up Sunday, Nov. 25 at Michigan State.
Marlin, who enters his third season in Cajun Country and 20th as a collegiate head coach, has had three full weeks since the start of practice on Oct. 12 to begin fusing together four returners with a group of eight newcomers.
The exhibition marks the debut of numerous Cajuns players taking the court for the first time as a collegiate student-athlete and should give Marlin and his staff an idea of the team's deficiencies in advance of Sunday's season opener.
"We have made steady progress throughout the fall camp," Marlin mentioned. "We continue to improve defensively and on the offensive side of the ball. I am pleased with the production that we've received from our entire roster. We have 11 scholarship players and a couple of walk-ons and they are all performing at a very high level.
"We look forward to seeing what kind of results we'll receive on Election Night" Marlin quipped. "Mike Giorlando's team will do a very good job of executing and will challenge us. This is also a dress rehearsal and warm-up for Sunday's opener because with not being able to practice inside the Cajundome, all of our new guys will get to experience a different type of backdrop than the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility for the first time."
As the new faces get acclimated to the collegiate game in 2012-13, the Cajuns will lean heavily on junior Bryant Mbamalu and sophomore sensation Elfrid Payton.
Mbamalu started double figure games for the second consecutive season, getting the nod a career-best 25 times in 2011-12. Known largely for his defensive play as a freshman in 2010-11, the Houston native began to blossom as an outside threat as a sophomore in 2011-12. This season, he's the veteran of the squad in terms of years of experience at the Division I level.
Payton led the Ragin' Cajuns in assists (97) and averaged 7.2 points in an average of 22.7 minutes per game during his rookie campaign a year ago. The Gretna, La., native played all but one regular season game as a 17-year old (turned 18 on Feb. 22). He ranked Top 10 in the Sun Belt Conference in assists (3.0 apg) and delivered the game-winning play vs. Western Kentucky and Denver.
Marlin plans to play "a different style" this season, taking advantage of the speed in the back court to disrupt the opposition. As he puts it, "it's a guard's game, it always has been and it always will be".
With the entrance of newcomers Elridge Moore, who played at Nicholls State as a freshman, and Mississippi State transfer Shawn Long at center the Cajuns are confident they can navigate through the 2012-13 schedule.
Another newcomer to watch is guard Steven Wronkoski, a freshman out of St. Thomas Aquinas High in Hammond, La. Wronkoski has a great feel for the game, which has helped him make the adjustment to the speed and power of the college game. Capable of playing several positions, he will most likely see time at both wing guard and small forward.
The Wolf Pack roster features four upperclassmen and three sophomores which should provide a good test for a Cajuns team that features only one returning junior and senior.
Loyola is paced by junior Robert Lovaglio and sophomore McCall Tomeny (Baton Rouge, La./Christian Life) who average 23.5 and 18.0 points per game, respectively. Tomeny (9.0 rpg) and Lovaglio (8.0 rpg) are the team's top two rebounders. The pair averaged 36 minutes per game during the season opening weekend.
The Wolf Pack used the same lineup both games last weekend with senior Aussie Steve Davis, sophomore Kyle Simmons of Eustis, Fla., and freshman Mason Ibert (Baton Rouge, La./Catholic-BR) joining Lovaglio and Tomeny. Key reserves were Manuel Gandara and Daniel Kuhl.
In Sunday's win over Morehouse, Lovaglio scored 20 points and was 2-of-3 from three-point range. Tomeny shot 8-of-12 from the free throw line en route to his 16 points. Davis had a career high 11 points on the day, shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds, while Lovaglio nabbed nine.
The Ragin' Cajuns and Wolf Pack meet on the hardwood for the first time since the 2003-04 season. That meeting took place on Nov. 24, 2003 and served as the home opener for Jessie Evans' final season as head coach. Charged by a 20-point outburst in the final six minutes of the first half, Louisiana blew open an eight point contest en route to an 89-57 win. Then-senior Brad Boyd led the way with 21 points off the bench on 7-of-13 shooting. Laurie Bridges and Chris Cameron each reached double-digits scoring as well tacking on 17 and 15 respectively.
RAGIN' CAJUNS EXHIBITION RESULTS SINCE 2000-01 SEASON
Nov. 9, 2000 vs. Angola (Sport Tours) W, 95-50
Nov. 15, 2000 vs. Dillard W, 109-82
Nov. 13, 2001 vs. Czech Select W, 94-74
Nov. 13, 2002 vs. Sport Tours Intl. W, 111-86
Nov. 16, 2002 vs. Arkansas Tech W, 95-74
Nov. 6, 2003 vs. Delta State W, 94-69
Nov. 13, 2003 vs. Arkansas Angels W, 90-80
Nov. 10, 2004 vs. Arkansas Tech W, 71-48
Nov. 10, 2005 vs. St. Gregory's W, 92-53 (at Blackham Coliseum)
Nov. 6, 2007 vs. Louisiana College W, 95-81
Nov. 4, 2008 vs. Millsaps W, 87-57
Nov. 11, 2008 vs. Texas-Tyler W, 84-55
Nov. 10, 2009 vs. West Alabama W, 90-69
Nov. 9, 2010 vs. Montevallo W, 70-56