'Pure toughness': Cajuns remain united amid tumultuous season

Nick Fontenot
Special to The Advertiser

The wins this season have been scarce for Bob Marlin and the UL basketball team.

The Ragin’ Cajuns currently sit with a six-game losing streak heading into Saturday’s Sun Belt Conference game with Troy. The Cajuns have dropped their first three conference games, including Thursday night’s three-point loss to South Alabama.

In that game, Trajan Wesley went down with an apparent concussion and was taken off the court on a stretcher. No timetable was given for Wesley’s return, but add that to the long list of roster hits for the Cajuns, be it the season-ending injuries to Kobe Julien, Durey Caldwell and Javonne Lowery or the fact that P.J. Hardy has been out of the lineup for the last seven games.

It’s been a tumultuous season for the Cajuns, no doubt. In fact, junior guard Cedric Russell said it’s been the most tumultuous season of his entire basketball playing career. Russell said the team is forever battling to hold it together in the face of this season’s adversity.

UL's Cedric Russell drives the ball to the goal as the UL Ragin' Cajuns take on the McNeese State Cowboys at the Cajundome on Nov. 9, 2019.

“It’s just pure toughness at this point,” Russell said. “We have been trying to come together and not have this adversity divide us. We already have a lot of guys out due to injury. We don't really know what’s going on with Tra.

"The good teams really come together at times like this. We are facing adversity and we can’t let that divide us. We need to get tough and pull through in these tight situations.”

More:Cajuns cope during a long season full of interruptions

One bright spot in Thursday’s loss to South Al was Mylik Wilson’s career-high 17 points. Wilson said the South Alabama zone defense allowed him to sit back and hit shots. Wilson finished 5-of-9 from 3-point range on a night where the Cajuns tied a school record with 41 3-point attempts.

“They kept penetrating the gap and leaving me open,” Wilson said. “I hit some shots.”

At this point, anything positive is something to build on for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Marlin said coupled with Wilson’s and Russell’s efforts against South Alabama, the Cajuns guarded better than they have in the last few games against the Jaguars and he said the energy level was high.

More:Cajuns double-digit scorer Julien to have knee surgery

“Mylik gave us a big boost,” Marlin said. “Cedric was 0-for in the first half (from 3-point range) and then went 4-for-6 in the second half. We settled in and we guarded a little bit better and we made a couple shots. We had some 3-pointers drop and we battled on the glass.”

The Cajuns had struggled in the last few games with rebounding, but Marlin said he was pleased with the 12 offensive boards against South Alabama. Marlin said rebounding is going to continue to be a big factor on whether the Cajuns can end this losing streak in Saturday’s game against Troy, which is coming off its own tough loss to UL Monroe Thursday.

“We did a good job in the second half and won the rebound battle in the second half,” Marlin said. “That was important. We did a nice job and showed some improvement there.

“Troy presses and it could be an up-and-down game,” Marlin said. “I wouldn't be shocked if they shoot 41 3s. They lost to Monroe but they’ll be ready to play us for sure.”


UL (5-9) (0-3) vs. Troy (5-9) (1-2)

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Cajundome


RADIO: KPEL 1420 AM and KHXT 107.9 FM

UL LEADERS: Jalen Johnson (15.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Cedric Russell (14.1 ppg), Dou Gueye (9.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Trajan Wesley (3.8 apg)