In his opening remarks of a press conference on Monday, Oct. 23, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns basketball head coach Bob Marlin expressed confidence in his new-look team.
“This group has come together. They’re connected. That seems to be a buzzword in college basketball. Last year’s group was connected, this group is connected maybe even more… The guys are working hard, I like what I’m seeing.”
This coming week will feature the Cajuns first game, a home opener against the Youngstown State Penguins. Some things Coach Marlin said that we can expect to see in this game based off of recent practices, including a scrimmage the day prior:
“The returners. Themus Fulks, preseason All-conference player, led the league in assists, has really stepped up his game… Kentrell Garnett is back, another guy that’s improved and worked really hard… Michael Thomas, who started two years ago in the championship game for us, great experience,” Marlin said.
For most of last season, Garnett’s role as a complementary offensive option allowed him to pick his spots and maximize his three-point efficiency, and it will be interesting to see how more of the ball will affect his playstyle. Things are looking up for another Cajun three-point specialist as well:
“Kobe Julien. All-conference player two years ago, coming back, had a really good day yesterday, looked like his old self, and certainly we’re counting on him,” Marlin said.
Julien’s battles with multiple knee injuries and subsequent surgeries finally seem to be behind him. His game finally has one last proper chance to flourish.
Of particular importance to Marlin was the development and growing role of Carencro native and junior forward Joe Charles as one of the longest-tenured Cajuns left on the roster.
“Joe Charles has done a really good job for us defensively. Offensively, he really rebounded the ball yesterday, had five offensive rebounds, ten total,” Marlin said. He’ll hope to fill that Greg Williams role from last year, becoming the second option and stuffing the stats sheet. “We’re counting on Joe to elevate his game. He’s an elite defender, he’s got great hands, good three-point shooter, shot 40% in the past,” Marlin said.
“We need him to score, rebound the ball and defend. He’s versatile, he can defend one-through-five. If you remember in the tournament last year, we had him guarding the point guard from South Alabama… Joe has come on, he’s been more of a leader this year, he’s gotten a little stronger,” Marlin said.
For Charles, there won’t be any more rotating in and out with Terence Lewis; it’s high time that he becomes a bonafide starter.
“Also back, we’ve got Kyran Ratliff, who was a redshirt freshman last year that has gotten much better and we’re trying to give him confidence, he certainly can do it,” Marlin said.
Finally, Marlin gave some updates on the newer transfers.
“We’ve got a couple of junior college guys. Hosanna Kitenge… really good rebounder, played good yesterday. Really glad that we got some strength and bulk underneath if we don’t have the height that we’ve had in the past necessarily,” Marlin said.
As previously mentioned, Kitenge is a physical specimen, has obvious potential in this system and is probably the transfer most likely to see significant playing time later on.
“And the other junior college player, Blake Butler has done a really good job, and we’re excited about Blake. He can do a lot of things, very versatile, can score, great defensively, can rebound the ball, and just like Hosanna, they’re older guys, so they have experience coming in,” Marlin said.
Some inactives that Marlin mentioned for the coming weeks:
“Of course Chancellor White is not playing at this time, he’s still rehabbing his knee, making great progress. Vinny Segona’s been out a couple weeks with a hamstring, and we hope that we can work him back in this week and give him an opportunity to possibly play against UT Tyler,” Marin said.
“We’ll see what happens when we hit a little bit of adversity at some point, which we’re probably gonna do early since we play nine of our first 13 games away from the Cajundome, then it’ll swing a little bit more in our favor in conference after two four-game stints in conference on the road.”