Record: 21-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10
Best Win: Butler (RPI: 20)
Worst Loss: Central Connecticut State (RPI: 198)
Key Player: Ramon Galloway (17.0 ppg, 3.8 apg)
Thing you probably didn't know about La Salle: It's located in Philadelphia
Thing you probably didn't know about La Salle v2.0: They won a National Championship in 1954... in Basketball... Men's Basketball
Leading up to this game, I had the privilege to sit down (meaning I sat at my desk and responded to his e-mail) with Joe Fedorowicz (@JoeFedorowicz) of www.philahoops.com, a blog covering all things basketball in the Philadelphia area. Joe was kind enough to answer some questions about La Salle.
My responses to his questions can be found here.
Describe La Salle as a team
The Explorers have been guard dominated for the better part of two years and sometimes play four or five small guards at a time. They want to play uptempo and fast, but can also pass the ball around through a zone or loose man defense. When they are at their best, the Explorers are shooting the ball very well (up as high as 41-43% as a team from deep). Even more vital is that most of their guards can finish at the rim and are explosively quick, creating mismatch issues on that end of the floor. Giannini has made some mistakes during in-game coaching, but his team has bought into his system and has been successful since last November.
If there was one player that Boise State fans should watch out for, who is it?
Ramon Galloway is the easy choice here, because he is a freakishly athletic guard with NBA range at times. I'm going to say that the true killer is Tyreek Duren, La Salle's point guard. Duren had his rough games this year, but is usually good for about 17 points and 5-6 assists per contest. Shooting the ball much better than he has his first two years, the Philly native has a knack to get the ball to the rim. If the game is close, the ball will be in his hands.
What kind of style does La Salle play?
The Explorers would rather play transition basketball, getting up the court and scoring and forcing steals on defense. In the half court set, La Salle focuses highly on the high ball screen and dribble-penetration. They will also dump the ball down to Jerrell Wright at times, usually at the beginning and end of halves.
How is La Salle constituted?
La Salle has a core group of sophomores (big men) and juniors (guards) that have basically started or played significant minutes since they showed up on campus. Leading the team is Ramon Galloway, transferred in last year and received a hardship waiver to play immediately. Tyrone Garland, possibly the best six man in the conference, transferred in from Virginia Tech and sat out from January 2011 to November 2012. This is a team of poise, probably because most of them have been there before.
What is La Salle's lineup like?
The Explorers will always play three small guards and will have a fourth in DJ Peterson, who is a 6-foot-5 guard with some length. If they need to speed the game up, Giannini has not shown a hesitancy to go with a fifth guard out there, but most of the time it will be three guards, Peterson and Wright or four guards with a big. What La Salle lacks is depth in the frontcourt, as they have a small redshirt freshman in Rohan Brown and a thin big man in Garvin Hunt who was mostly a practice player this year.
In their wins, what has La Salle done most effective?
Shoot and defend. When the Explorers shoot the ball well, like most teams, they win. If Jerrell Wright is effective and stays out of foul trouble, they usually shoot the ball well. With their small size, La Salle gets outrebounded a lot, but they will rebound if the game is at a quick pace.
In their losses, what has La Salle done or not done to be effective?
Outside of not make shots, La Salle goes through stretches where they revert to a "playground" style of basketball and focus mainly on one-on-one matchups. They have also been outrebounded in their losses by a pretty high margin. Without 7-footer Steve Zack, who is out with a sprained foot, La Salle has had to really grit out rebounds.
This might be Bronco Nation’s first exposure to Philly sports fans. What can they expect?
The "Philly fan" moniker is truly a false one. I would expect about 200 La Salle fans and students out there, maybe more. The University isn't as far reaching as Boise state or other institutions, but the alumni are loyal and have waited 21 years to be in the NCAA tournament again. I wouldn't expect anything terrible, but they will be into the game and yell at their team / their opponents, either coach or other team's fans.
Do you like our chances versus the Explorers? You didn't go crazy betting La Salle to cover the spread did you?