#96 Louisiana Men's Basketball 2015-2016 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

2015-2016 Overall Rank: #96
Conference Rank: #2 Sun Belt

Louisiana Team Page#96 Louisiana Men's Basketball 2015-2016 PreviewBuy Louisiana Basketball Tickets

The darling of the Sun Belt two years ago, Louisiana did not sneak up on anybody in 2014-2015. The team played second fiddle to Georgia State and Georgia Southern and ended up finishing fourth in Sun Belt play with a 13-7 record. A strong effort to return to the NCAA Tournament fell short against Georgia State in the semifinals. For a team that was now on everybody’s radar and had some massive holes to fill, it was not a bad season at all. And a trip to the CIT quarterfinals is not too bad either. But for Shawn Long’s senior season, the Ragin’ Cajuns will have higher hopes. Long, a 6-11 forward, led the team with 16.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. He is a beast to defend and not just because of his impressive post moves. Long can step outside and knock down three-pointers and there are not many players who can defend him effectively.

2014-15 Record: 22-14, 13-7
2014-15 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Bob Marlin
Coach Record: 66-63 at Louisiana, 291-195 overall

Who’s Out:
Coach Bob Marlin does lose his second leading scorer, Brian Williams, to graduation. Williams, a 6-5 wing, spent three seasons with Oklahoma State before finishing up his career with the Ragin’ Cajuns. He averaged 10.1 points per game. The only other significant departure is Xavian Rimmer. Two years ago, during Louisiana’s run to the NCAA Tournament, Rimmer knocked down 43.2 percent of his 132 three-point attempts. Last year he hit just 27.1 percent of his 70 attempts from beyond the arc and averaged a mere 14.1 minutes per game. Donovan Williams, J.J. Davenport, Vieux Kande and Aaron LeBlanc all averaged less than seven minutes per game and none of them made regular appearances.

Who’s In:
Nine players started at least ten games in 2014-2015 and seven of them are back, so there is not a huge need for the newcomers to make much of an impact. A trio of junior college transfers should be able to fill the few holes this team has. Shooting guard Tyrone Wooten is a big time scorer who spent a couple seasons at Itawamba Community College. He can use his 6-4 frame to attack the basket or knock down shots from outside. At the least he should be a nice offensive spark off of the bench. Jay Hedgeman is a versatile 6-7 forward. He is a good shooter and his length makes him a solid defender, especially from the small forward spot. Center Larenz Stalcup is not going to score a lot, but the 6-11, 230 pounder from Snow College is a strong rebounder and shot blocker. When Long needs a break, Stalcup will be the bigger option. Walk-on Centenary transfer Jacob Broussard will look to add depth on the perimeter, while redshirt freshman Scott Plaisance and incoming freshmen Kadavion Evans and Jerekius Davis round out the group of newcomers. Davis, a versatile 6-6 forward, is an interesting prospect. He can shoot the ball like a guard, but also tilts the scales at 224 pounds and will use that weight to force his will on the glass.

Who to Watch:
With Williams and Rimmer gone, Louisiana will be looking for others to boost their scoring output in the backcourt. Jay Wright hasn’t been asked to score a lot since his play running the point is more important, but he still averaged 9.1 points per game as a sophomore. He is not the most consistent shooter, although Wright did hit 40.5 percent of his three-point attempts (while shooting just 38.4 percent from the floor and 60.1 percent from the free-throw line). Kasey Shepherd was once the backup point guard, but he is also effective off of the ball and may be too valuable to start on the bench. Last season he averaged 9.7 points, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. Shepherd is a good shooter, but Hayward Register led the team in three-pointer’s last year and knocked down 39.7 percent of his attempts. Register was a regular starter in the second half of the season and he was much more productive than his 6.7 point per game season average would indicate. Like Register, Johnathan Stove was a regular starter during the second half of the season. Stove will not be the best shooter on this team, but at 6-4 and 215 pounds, he is a bigger guard to have on the wing than most of the other options. When Stove is attacking the basket, he is at his best. Seniors Steven Wronkoski and Tiremone Williams add even more depth to a backcourt that is getting pretty crowded.

Final Projection:
Long will dominate the frontcourt, so it easy to overlook Devonta Walker and Bryce Washington, but those two played very well beside Long, and in place of Long when he needed a rest, last season. Walker averaged 9.4 points and 5.3 rebounds, turning into a very effective secondary scorer for the frontcourt. Washington is a bit undersized at 6-6, but he is a big body who can eat up space in the paint. Not as effective in the scoring department as Walker, Washington still averaged 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds. That is plenty for what Louisiana needs from their power forward and he was playing his best offensive basketball during the CIT. The Ragin’ Cajuns hope their NCAA Tournament drought can end after one year. The Sun Belt will be tough this year, but this high scoring team has the firepower and experience to compete with the best the conference has to offer.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Jay Wright, Junior, Guard, 9.1 points per game
Hayward Register, Junior, Guard, 6.7 points per game
Johnathan Stove, Sophomore, Guard, 5.4 points per game
Devonta Walker, Senior, Forward, 9.4 points per game
Shawn Long, Senior, Forward, 16.4 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 77.5 (16th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 70.0 (265, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (61, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.6 (154, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.7 (132, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 35.8 (101, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.6 (115, 4)
Rebound Margin: 6.4 (18, 1)
Assists Per Game: 14.7 (44, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.6 (321, 10)

Madness 2016 NBA Draft Rankings:
#38 Shawn Long


See All Top 144 Basketball Previews