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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
Replacing double-figure scorers Tiras Wade, Orien Greene and Brian Hamilton will be quite a chore for Louisiana-Lafayette second-year coach Robert Lee.
Greene was drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Wade, the reigning Sun Belt Tournament MVP, played in the Miami Heat's summer camp before signing to play in Italy. And Hamilton averaged 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds in 2004-05 as Lee's first team advanced to the NCAA Tournament and gave Final Four participant Louisville all it wanted in a 68-62 first-round defeat.
"I really believe if Orien Greene hadn't fouled out of that game that we would've beaten Louisville," Lee said [Greene fouled out with 7:11 remaining after playing 18 foul-plagued minutes]. "We're obviously losing a lot in those three players. Tiras made big shots all year and Brian was tough on the boards."
But things could have been worse. Lee could have had five starters to replace. Dwayne Mitchell (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg), a 6-4 senior, was granted another year by the NCAA, and 6-11, 270-pound senior Chris Cameron (8.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg) had another year reinstated thanks to his academic work.
Equally good news came when Lee learned that 6-11, 245-pound senior center Michael Southall will be allowed to return after a two-year absence because off-the-court issues. Southall, who originally signed with Kentucky and then Georgia Tech, averaged 12.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Cajuns in 2002-2003. He also blocked 165 shots to set the school's all-time record.