Options, decisions all a part of UL point guard's play
It’s a fine line.
And with 10 games to go in UL’s 2018-19 regular season, Ragin’ Cajuns point guard Marcus Stroman still is trying to figure out how to walk it.
When to drive and dish. When to drive and take it to the hole himself.
When to drop a shot or two or three from the outside. When to leave it in the hands of his shooters.
When to defer to teammates. When to take over.
There really is a delicate balance to it all, and what’s akin to a high-wire act got even more dicey when small forward Malik Marquetti — UL’s No. 2 scorer, at 15.1 points per game, behind JaKeenan Gant — went down in late December with a season-ending knee injury.'
Related:Cajuns survey options without Marquetti
“He has tried to take over before, sometimes too quick,” UL coach Bob Marlin said recently.
“When we first lost Malik he tried to do too much, we felt like, and tried to drive the ball into the teeth of the defense without moving it or reversing it one time.
“But he picks and chooses his spots,” Marlin added, “and I think he understands the game well, reads the game well, and makes adjustments.”
After the game before the one in which Marquetti went down, Stroman was averaging 12.7 ppg — his high point this season.
But after scoring just two points in a surprising 104-77 loss at Appalachian State on Thursday night, the senior’s average is down to 11.7.
More:Cold start dooms Cajuns in loss to App State
Stroman took just two shots from the field during his 22 minutes against the Mountaineers, going 1-of-2 with a miss from 3-point range.
His backup, freshman Trajan Wesley, had it even rougher at Appalachian State, finishing 0-for-5 from the field including two missed trey tries in his second game back after missing four in a row with a sprained ankle.
Despite the ankle still bothering him, Wesley still gave the Cajuns a valuable 17 minutes in a home win over Troy on Saturday night.
And after a rough first half that appeared to help give Stroman a little extra pep in his step after the break, allowing him to take over the down the stretch in a tight one.
“Those minutes were big … It certainly helped all of our guards,” Marlin said of Wesley’s against the Trojans.
“We missed him in a few of those games, and feel like he can make a difference.”
A fresh Stroman scored 21 against Troy, including six in the final two minutes and six seconds.
Related:Gant, Stroman answer the bell after the break for UL
He scored inside to snap a tie and give the Cajuns the lead for good with just more than two minutes remaining.
He drove the lane, was fouled and made two free throws to give UL a four-point advantage with 51.3 seconds left.
And with 15 seconds remaining, he drove again, this time for a layup that helped to seal the deal.
Afterward, Marlin lauded the second-half play of Stroman, who’ll be back close to home — the product of Keenan High in Columbia, South Carolina, played his first two college seasons at South Carolina — when the 13-8 Cajuns visit Coastal Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
The Chanticleers, 11-9, are coming off a 92-81 win over UL Monroe.
“(In the) second half, he came out and made the right adjustments and made the right reads,” said Marlin, who had a long chat with his point between halves of the Troy game.
More:Plenty of talking points for Ragin' Cajuns guard Stroman
The Sun Belt’s assists leader, a natural distributor, even picked the right time to do it himself late against the Trojans, eschewing a wide-open P.J. Hardy and attacking the basket instead for his final two points.
“He could have kicked that back out,” Marlin said, “but he made the right call and got to the basket untouched.”
So many options.
So many decisions.
Picking when to go and when to pass really can be a tough proposition, especially when surrounded with shooters like Hardy and Cedric Russell and scorers like Gant and Jerekius Davis.
“One thing that he tries to do, at times, is take it on himself to do too much, to get to the basket,” Marlin said.
“And if we reverse the ball side-to-side and move the defense,” the Cajuns coach added, “he has a better chance of penetrating and getting to the paint and making a play for other people or himself.”
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RAGIN’ CAJUNS BASKETBALL
UL (13-8, 4-4 in the Sun Belt) at COASTAL CAROLINA (11-9, 5-3)
WHEN: 1 p.m. (central) Saturday
WHERE: HTC Center (3,212); Conway, South Carolina
RADIO: KHXT 107.9 FM with Jay Walker (play-by-play) and Ross Cook (color)
UL LEADERS: JaKeenan Gant, 20.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.0 bpg; Marcus Stroman, 11.7 ppg, 6.6 apg, 2.3 spg;
Justin Miller, 9.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg; Jerekius Davis, 9.8 ppg
More:For Cajuns shooter Hardy, it all matters from head to toe