Troy readies for doubleheader

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, January 8, 2009

For the second straight weekend the Troy Trojans men’s and women’s basketball teams will host a conference doubleheader at Trojan Arena Saturday.

The Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette invade Troy beginning at 5:15 p.m. for the women’s game.

“Lafayette is a very good basketball team,” Troy men’s head coach Don Maestri said. “The have one of the deepest teams in the league in terms of talent.”

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Maestri said the Ragin’ Cajuns rotate in 10 players and some of the bench players are just as good as the starters. Maestri said because of this fact ULL will be a tough task for the Trojans.

Lafayette (5-8, 2-1 Sun Belt) comes in as the top shot blocking team in the league with 5.92 blocks per game and Maestri said Troy would have to find a way to counteract their athleticism.

“We will have to try and rebound with them,” Maestri said. “That will be one of our biggest challenges. Our second biggest challenge is how to score because their coach is one of the best man-to-man defensive coaches in the conference.”

The Trojans (7-9, 2-2) will have to find a way to score on what Maestri calls “a very athletic and disciplined” defense.

The Trojans are now into the last part of the schedule before the Sun Belt Tournament. In the tournament, the top three teams get a bye into the second round of the tournament to be played in Hot Springs, Ark. March 7-10. The next five teams host the first round of the tournament and the last five teams hit the road.

Maestri said because of the way the tournament is set up, there are three goals when it comes time for conference play.

“One is to try and win the conference championship, one is to try and get a bye and the other is to try and get a home game,” Maestri said. “And because of those three things there is a lot of pressure in every conference game.”

The Trojans enter Saturday’s conference game with a slight edge over North Texas as the league’s top scoring offense. Troy scores 77.4 points per game compared to N. Texas’ 77.1.

ULL is ninth at 65.9 points per game.

On the flip side, the Trojans are the worst when it comes to scoring defense at 81.7 points per game. The Ragin’ Cajuns allow 68.6 points per game.

The Trojans are third in the league with 37.8 rebounds per game and Lafayette is 10th at 34.5. Troy has the second-most assists per game with 14.44, compared to Lafayette’s 9.00 per game, which is good for 12th.

The women’s team is in search of their fifth consecutive victory.

Troy (7-7, 2-2), in the midst of a four-game winning streak and a three-game homestand, has matched their longest winning streak in three seasons. The last time the Trojans won four games in row was during the 2006 season, a stretch that ran from Nov. 12-21 of that season. It is the longest since a six-game winning streak by the Trojans during the 2004-05 season, a stretch that ran from Jan. 27-Feb. 12.

The Trojans find themselves tied for second place in the East Division of the Sun Belt Conference with WKU and two games behind division-leading Middle Tennessee. When the Trojans hit the floor Saturday night, they will be playing a team that has dropped its last two games and will enter the game with a record of 3-12 overall and 0-4 in conference play.

With the 2-2 start in conference play to start the season, the Trojans are off to their best start since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2005.

During the Trojans four-game winning streak, they have relied on hot-shooting and tenacious defense to pull out the victories. Over the four-game span, the Trojans are averaging nearly 67 points while their opponents are being held to just 57 points per game.

Troy is also shooting 42 percent from the floor, while holding their opponents to 34.5 percent shooting. The three-point shooting defense has been even tougher for Troy over the span, holding opponents to just 27.3 percent from beyond the arc.

The Trojans are also relying on the scoring ability of senior Kylie Morrissy, a Preseason Third-Team All-Sun Belt selection. She is averaging more than 18 points per game through her last nine games, and is averaging a team-high 16.4 points per game this season.

Troy University’s Travis Jarome contributed to this article.