Cajun Nation, it’s your Head Coach Bob Marlin
- 01 May, 2018
Cajun Nation, it’s your Head Coach Bob Marlin, here to bring you my last blog entry for our record breaking 2017-18 season.
After going 2-1 on our last three road games of the season, we headed back home for games against Texas State and UT Arlington. During the first half of the Texas State game, our players brought a championship effort, holding the Bobcats to only 29% from the floor. The Cajuns marched to a 73-63 victory with senior leader Bryce Washington’s eleventh double-double of the season, we became the first team in school history to start 12-0 in the Cajundome.
Next up was a Saturday showdown against the Sun Belt preseason favorite: UT Arlington. In front of over 5,000 Cajun fans, the team did not disappoint, putting on an offensive show led by senior Frank Bartley’s 25 points. We shot 50% from the field, 96% from the free-throw line, and 41% from beyond the arc - helping us to a 100-79 victory.
Then, the team headed back on the road to Alabama for two games against Troy and South Alabama. After opening up a 13 point lead with seven minutes to go, we missed some opportunities to put the game away and Troy was able to capitalize with tough rebounds and 3 pointers, which saw the score shrink to two points with under a minute left. Once again it was our defense that helped us hang on down the stretch, securing an 81-76 victory.
With the win over Troy we were guaranteed a share of the Sun Belt Championship - Louisiana’s first regular season championship since the 1999-00 season. A lot of hard work goes into winning a championship and you never take it for granted. Personally it was a great moment in my career, as it was an honor to win my 500th game the same night our staff and players became champions.
The Cajuns then made the drive from the Mitchell Center to Mobile to face South Alabama, who has always proven to be a tough opponent. The Jaguars came out hot from beyond the arc, making 9 out of 15 in the first half. Yet, this was offset by a huge spark off our bench from Jerekius Davis scoring 14 straight, which erased an eight-point deficit. Davis scored 18 of his career-high 20 points in the first half, and with a 17-0 run in the second half, we were able to put the game away with an 88-71 victory. With the South Alabama win, we became the outright SBC Champs and tied the school record for most wins in a season with 25!
We then headed home for the last two games of the season against the Arkansas schools, and were proud to be back in front of the Cajun Nation as your 2017-18 Sun Belt Champs! First up was Arkansas State. Led by senior Frank Bartley’s 18 points, we won the game 85-74. Frank’s team high in points helped him become the 47th player in school history to reach 1,000-point mark. It was also a special feeling as a coach to have three seniors reach the 1,000-point mark in the same season. The win over Arkansas State was our 26th win - setting a school-record for most wins in school history.
The final game of the season honored our seniors against Little Rock. This year we honored Larenz Stalcup, Jacob Broussard, Frank Bartley, Johnathan Stove, and Bryce Washington.
Offensively, the game got off to a slow start. After ten minutes of play we trailed 9-8 and by halftime the game was tied 23-23. Little Rock ended up spoiling our senior night in a stunning overtime 72-61 victory. Coaches and players were upset and disappointed with the outcome but knew that it was time to get back to work and focus on the Sun Belt tournament.
Coming in as the number one seed, we would face the number eight seed Texas State in the quarterfinals. I could tell the team was ready to get past the Little Rock loss and showed it with an impressive 80-54 victory over the Bobcats. Next up was a semifinals match up with fourth seed UT Arlington. Since Cuba, I have told the media, boosters, and fans that if we stay healthy we could have a special year. Yet, going into the semifinals, Jakeenan Gant become ill and Johnathan Stove was still battling an ankle injury suffered against Arkansas State. Yet, even amidst the injuries, our team fought hard against a solid UT Arlington team and had a one point lead with 1:20 left when Marcus Stroman fouled out. Arlington was ultimately able to go ahead with three free throws and win a hard fought game, 71-68.
After getting back home from New Orleans, the team along with boosters, coaches, family, and athletic staff gathered together at City Club to watch the NIT reveal. The NIT matched us against in-state foe LSU. Surprisingly, even with the second-best record in the field, we were sent on the road to Baton Rouge. We knew it was going to be a challenge to win on the road with Jakeenan and Stove’s health issues, yet the team was excited for the challenge. After a bad second quarter, the Tigers took a 28-40 lead at half. We never quit and with 1:39 left in the game, we were down by 1, 73-72. The Tigers make free throws to go up 3 and were able to pull away for an 84-76 victory bringing an end to one of the best seasons in school history and one of my favorite teams to coach.
Acadiana’s Team! Geaux Cajuns!