Head Coach Bobby Marlin and his Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball squad put it all together during their Sun Belt Conference tournament run. Coming in as the No. 8 seed and knocking off the No. 1 seeded Texas State Bobcats on their way to a conference championship appearance, Cajun fans got a taste of what this team was fully capable of all season long.
Despite coming up just short and losing to a fiery Georgia State team, it was a tremendous effort the Ragin’ Cajuns put together when many counted them out.
“I’m real proud. I’m glad to be a part of the family that we’ve built, and I’m looking forward to the future that we’re going to build,” guard Greg Williams Jr. said after the Cajuns’ conference championship appearance. “I think that it’s a bad, but good, feeling, because I can’t wait until we start next year.”
In a year when many expected Louisiana to dominate conference play and run over opponents due to their exceptional roster, it was a rollercoaster ride for Marlin’s group. Getting a majority of the roster healthy, and with continuity at its best late in the season, it all clicked once the team got to Pensacola for the tournament.
But Pensacola wasn’t an entirely uplifting time for Louisiana. During their tournament run, Coach Marlin suffered a loss bigger than their championship game. With the death of his mother occurring Sunday, Marlin went back to Mississippi to be there for his family after their upset victory over No. 1 seed Texas State.
Making it back in time for the semifinal game against Troy, it’s safe to say Marlin had more than just Cajun fans elevating his team to victory.
For Louisiana, this roster from top to bottom showed what they were made of. With both Greg Williams Jr. and Jordan Brown being selected to the All-Tournament team and the rest of this squad showing up in big moments, it was an all-around performance for the Cajuns. Something they were all proud to be a part of.
“I was just really excited (about) how well we fought and how positive we (were) mentally and physically. I’m just excited to get ready to work next year,” guard Jalen Dalcourt said after their tournament run. “The guys, we just took this one on the chin. And all just were talking about working next season to get back to this. We don’t like this feeling at all.”
A major piece to the Cajuns success throughout the tournament, and much of the season as a whole, was Arizona transfer Jordan Brown. Leaving it all on the floor and coming up with big time performances when this group needed them most, it was Brown who answered the call.
Scoring 31 points in Louisiana’s victory over Texas State and 24 points in the championship game against Georgia State, Brown’s consistency was a major factor in getting this team over the hump down the stretch of the Cajuns season.
Now, this Louisiana squad looks to ride this momentum into the off season, where they can continue growing as one. Despite a difficult regular season, it’s better late than never for this group, as their tournament success proves the future is bright for this program.
“We’re very excited,” Marlin said about the future. “And we expect to be back next year fighting for a championship.”