Change is always a good thing, but it is sometimes difficult to get used to, and for the Ragin’ Cajuns, the basketball court at the Cajundome is one change fans are going to have to get comfortable with for the upcoming season.
Most sports fans have seen or heard of the infamous blue football field at Boise State University or the forest-like court for the University of Oregon. But, a lot of fans in college basketball and specifically the Sun Belt Conference knew about the swamp mural that was designed on the Louisiana basketball court in the Cajundome, making this court design for the Ragin’ Cajuns arguably one of the most creative and unique courts in the country.
The swamp-designed basketball court was introduced in November 2016 and was a part of the 21.2 million dollar Cajundome renovation project. The swamp court was designed by University of Louisiana at Lafayette alumna Courtney Jeffries, according to a university report.
But, for this 2019-2020 season, there is a new court with a brand new design. The design now has “LOUISIANA” on both baselines in white on red instead of white on black. In the center court, the logo ‘RAGIN’ CAJUNS’ is in large letters with the Sun Belt Conference logos on both sides of the floor.
The new-look was revealed on social media from the Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics twitter with a video displaying the court with the caption, “New court, who dis?”
The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Men’s Basketball twitter then quoted the tweet with their own response of the new design, reading “Look Fresh. Feel Fresh. New digs for the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2019-20. #Geaux Cajuns.
The new design does seem to be cleaner and straight to the point of reinforcing the Louisiana brand, but there were mixed feelings around the new court.
Former Ragin’ Cajun basketball player Malik Marquetti tweeted about his feelings with reference to the new design of the court, “Now, I won’t say that I don’t like the court, but I will say, I’m very glad that I got to play on the old one.”
Some fans were happy to see the new court, but as Louisiana Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Digital Strategy Patrick Crawford describes it as classic and emphasizes the Cajun brand.
“We intended for the next reiteration of the floor to have a classic look to it,” Crawford said. “Most basketball courts have a handful of resurfacings in their lifespan, this was the latest resurfacing — a re-gloss.”
The public response of the students showed a struggle to accept the new court because they felt that it went from creative to basic.
Some tweets from students read:
“New court looks nice, but I liked how unique the swamp was since no one else will put a swamp on their court,” Tyrell Lentini tweeted.
“Hate it. Period. End of story. They went from creative to basic. Make it make sense,” Angèle Jones tweeted.
“I miss the swamp court bring it back! We had the best court in the country,” Kenton Jackson tweeted.
Louisiana alumnus and a former football player for the Ragin’ Cajuns Vince Thomas gave some comments on the transformation.
“I think it takes away from our southern and Cajun culture,” Thomas said. “With this new court, it is very generic and it is similar to any other court except for the colors and the name Louisiana surrounding it whereas the last court displayed our Cajun culture.
“Being a former student and football player I used to love going to the basketball games. I remember being at the games and hearing fans from other teams come to the game and talk about the court and how they really haven't seen anything with that type of design. I personally think it was unnecessary to change the court.”
Sophomore Chrysta Porter said they felt that the court came alive on game days because of what the swamp signified for the students.
“I think UL is having a major problem with fixing things that were never broken; the old court was special because it signified what we see on our campus every day, and that is our swamp,” Porter said. “In my opinion, it was what made our court come alive on game days. Unfortunately, now the court just looks basic and boring. I will still support our boys and girls on the team, but the court is just not up to par.”
With this resurfaced design the Ragin’ Cajuns will now have to find a way to stand out in different ways. And fans will get a first look at this new effort to stand out on Oct. 28 as the Louisiana women’s team faces Mississippi College in an exhibition match; the men’s team will open their season on Nov. 5 against Loyola of New Orleans.
CORRECTION: As this story originally ran on Oct. 30, one section said: "What encouraged the design was the Cypress Swamp on Lake Martin that is located on the university’s campus near the Student Union. The swamp court was designed by Praters Hardwood Floors located in Chattanooga, Tennessee." This has been changed to "The swamp court was designed by University of Louisiana at Lafayette alumna Courtney Jeffries, according to a university report."