Fouls top list of what to avoid in 2019 for UL's Stroman
One of the last things UL coach Bob Marlin needs is for his starting senior point guard to get in foul trouble — especially when the starter’s backup is unavailable.
So when Marcus Stroman picked up his fourth foul with more than 14 minutes remaining in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ last outing, and UL beat Georgia Southern 87-85 on Saturday anyway, Marlin knows just how fortunate he was.
He also knows the Cajuns can ill-afford to have that happen too often, because according to Marlin when a player like Stroman fouls out, UL’s odds of winning “go down drastically.”
“He has to play like a senior. … He has to be smart on defense and on offense,” Marlin said of Stroman, the Sun Belt Conference’s assists and steals leader at the start of a week that ends with 11-6 UL visiting 9-7 UL Monroe on Saturday.
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Stroman’s fourth at Georgia Southern came on the offensive end of the floor, and he sat for more than six minutes before returning and later hitting 6-of-6 free throws in the win’s final 2:04.
“People, they were trying to flop the other day,” Marlin said.
“They had guys who were flopping left and right, and he got into a situation where he leaned on a guy, and the guy flopped, and they called a pushoff.
“He did the same thing,” Marlin added, “in the game against Little Rock at home.”
Stroman was limited to just 11 minutes before fouling out of UL’s Jan. 5 win over the Trojans.
That’s the same game in which Cajuns backup point Trajan Wesley sprained an ankle, and he’s been out since.
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“(Stroman),” Marlin said, “doesn’t need to put himself in that position, where he has an opportunity to get an offensive foul.”
Stroman, Marlin can rest assured, knows it.
Key to preventing it, the 6-foot-2 and 200-pound Cajun point said, is “just watching my hands on offense.”
“I know that I’m a lot bigger than most of the guards in the league,” Stroman said, “and that contact makes them flop, so I’ve just got to learn how to control it, I guess.”
Marlin went deep into his bench in the win at Georgia Southern, and it paid off on a night six Cajuns hit at least one trey try.
Shooting guard P.J. Hardy made just his third start of the season.
He responded by scoring a season high-matching 12 points and going 3-for-8 on 3-pointers — including one especially big one — while also dishing three assists, making two steals and pulling down a key offensive rebound that led to a Jerekius Davis basket.
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“He (Hardy) hit big 3-pointer that got us the lead back … late in the game,” Marlin said. “So certainly proud of him. (And) he’s working to get better defensively every day.”
The junior from St. Louis Catholic in Lake Charles has had more nine or more points in three of his last five games, including nine in a win at Southeastern Louisiana and 11 in a loss to Arkansas State.
Marlin got two rebounds and a steal in a surprise five minutes last Saturday from Mason Aucoin, who was appearing in just his seventh game of the season.
“If there are guys he can guard,” Marlin said of the junior walk-on from Hahnville High, “then he certainly knows what we’re doing and can give our guys some minutes on the bench to rest.”
And R.J. Gladney, appearing in just his fifth game after recovering from a concussion sustained in the offseason, added a couple of free throws while logging six minutes.
The 6-6 freshman from DeRidder High has played just 14 minutes all season.
“He came in the game and … changed a couple shots,” Marlin said. “He certainly can rebound the basketball if he has time.
“He’s still behind on the offensive end of the floor, but defensively I felt like we needed him the other day to give us a boost of energy — and he did that.”
Getting solid play off the bench will be critical for UL, Marlin suggested, in its final 14 games before Sun Belt Tournament play gets under way in mid-March.
That's especially so with No. 2 scorer Malik Marquetti out for the season following knee surgery.
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“As long as we keep pushing the right buttons and get (from) some guys a little bit more contribution,” the Cajuns coach said, “that’s certainly good.
“The more we can get guys involved in the rotation and have more depth, it certainly can help us — because if you get in a situation like (foul trouble) you’ve got hope it’s the other team and not you. That’s always a concern going into tournament play.”
The Cajuns this week announced that they’ve booked the Red Panda Acrobat for halftime of their Feb. 8 home game at Georgia State. The renowned act featuring a bowl-flipping unicycle rider from China frequently performs at NBA games.
UL also announced its alumni reunion game will be Feb. 16 vs. UL Monroe.
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