#107 Louisiana Men's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
2016-2017 Overall Rank: #107
Conference Rank: #2 Sun Belt
Louisiana suffered through a terribly inconsistent 2015-2016 campaign. This was a very talented team, but they had to settle for another trip to the CIT where they reached the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. But last year was supposed to be a year where the Ragin’ Cajuns did not have to settle for a trip to the CIT. This time around though, the CIT is a reasonable goal. With just one senior on the roster, Louisiana is in rebuilding mode, but if the team chemistry pans out, this group can at least equal last year’s 19 win total.
2015-16 Record: 19-15, 12-8
2015-16 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Bob Marlin
Coach Record: 88-77 at Louisiana, 313-202 overall
Who’s Out:
Louisiana was built around Shawn Long for the last few years. During his senior season the 6-11 forward averaged 18.9 points and 12.1 rebounds. The team worked through Long and now that he is gone, we get to see what everybody else can do. The frontcourt also lost Jay Hedgeman and Devonta Walker, who saw his numbers dip to 5.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game last year. The big loss on the perimeter is Kasey Shepherd. He was second on the team with 11.4 points per game and was one of the few relatively consistent three-point shooters on the team. Hayward Register and Steve Wronkosi were in the regular rotation as well. Tyrone Wooten, Tiremone Williams, Matt Marlin and Elijah McGuire are also gone after seeing limited action last season.
Who’s In:
The Ragin’ Cajuns will have to rely on their group of newcomers quite a bit this season. Depth is needed across the board and this group must provide it. Frank Bartley IV, a transfer from BYU, could have the biggest impact. The 6-3 junior is not the shooter this team needs, but he can score by attacking the basket and will be pretty effective on the glass for a guard as well. Redshirt freshman Kadavion Evans figures to be in the regular rotation on the perimeter as well. He is a good all-around scorer and shooter. Combo guard P.J. Hardy and tough 6-2 guard Jordan Adebutu will look to make an impact as freshmen as well. The frontcourt adds incoming freshmen Roydell Brown and Justin Miller and redshirt freshmen Garrett Capps and Jerekius Davis. Brown is a 6-5 forward who can finish above the rim and hit the glass effectively. At 6-7 and 240 pounds, Miller is the bigger body who will use his toughness on both ends of the floor. With limited frontcourt options on this team, look for Miller to get every opportunity to step into a starting role. Davis should have benefited from his year on the sidelines and he is an interesting player who can shoot the ball and use his 6-6, 224 pound frame to bang around in the paint.  
Who to Watch:
The Ragin’ Cajuns return four players who will likely see a lot of floor time in 2015-2016. Jay Wright is the senior leader of the group. Last season he started 32 games and averaged 8.9 points and 3.5 assists. Last year Wright did not need to do too much scoring, but that is probably not the case anymore. He will need to be more consistent with his outside shot in order to create more space for himself and his teammates. Johnathan Stove figures to emerge as the team’s go-to-scorer. He too averaged 8.9 points per game, but now the shots are there for him to take. Stove did not take too many three-pointers during his sophomore season, but he did knock down 35.7 percent of his 42 attempts. That may not sound like a great percentage, but comparatively speaking, it was very good for Louisiana last season. If Stove can knock down a few more long balls, he will be in for a big year. The frontcourt will work around Bryce Washington now. The 6-6 junior played second fiddle to Long before and now it is his turn to emerge as the team’s top frontcourt scorer. Washington may not be all that tall for a power forward, but he is tough. After averaging 8.7 points and 5.7 rebounds, Washington has the potential to do a lot more in 2016-2017. Scott Plaisance barely saw the floor as a freshman, but at 6-9 he is the tallest player on the roster. Miller will give him a run for playing time, but Plaisance has the experience now and must step up and at least provide some quality depth at the five spot.
Final Projection:
This is a very interesting year for Coach Bob Marlin and his Louisiana team. The level of talent is obviously a step back from what it was last year, but the team could be better as a whole if everything comes together. The issue will be whether or not Coach Marlin can successfully put all of the pieces together and get his team to play much smaller now that Long is gone. The backcourt is pretty good and has the potential to carry this team to the postseason. However, somebody must start hitting three-pointers more consistently. Last season the team made just 6.5 three-pointers per game and hit just 31.0 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. If 31.0 percent sounds bad, it is. That ranked 307th in the country. There are some shooters on the roster though and things should not go quite as bad as they did last season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Jay Wright, Senior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Frank Bartley, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Johnathan Stove, Junior, Guard, 8.9 points per game
Bryce Washington, Junior, Forward, 8.7 points per game
Justin Miller, Freshman, Forward, DNP last season
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 79.6 (29th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 72.8 (203, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (164, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.5 (170, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (218, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 31.0 (307, 10)
Free-Throw Percentage: 69.8 (169, 6)
Rebound Margin: 8.1 (13, 2)
Assists Per Game: 12.7 (206, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (154, 7)