John Giannini (above) is entering his 14th season as head coach at La Salle. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
(Ed. Note: This article is part of our 2017-18 season coverage, which will run for the six weeks preceding the first official games of the year on Nov. 10. To access all of our high school and college preview content for this season, click here.)
Here’s a look at the Explorers’ schedule for 2017-18:
While lacking marquee opponents outside of the city, La Salle’s 2016-17 non-conference schedule proved pretty difficult. The Explorers faced four NCAA Tournament teams in non-conference games: Texas Southern, Florida Gulf Coast, Bucknell and Villanova. The Explorers went 2-2 against those teams and went 6-5 overall in non-conference games. After a 5-1 start in Atlantic-10 play, La Salle faded out to end the season 15-15 overall and 9-9 in the A-10.
The Explorers’ non-conference schedule this season is pretty loaded. Northwestern, Miami, Villanova and Bucknell all made the NCAA Tournament last season. Temple, Penn and Drexel should be improved. When the Explorers get to conference play, they’ll have to fare better against the league’s top teams. La Salle went 1-5 against VCU, Dayton, Rhode Island, Richmond and St. Bonaventure, who finished first through fifth, respectively. After a home game against St. Louis to start its conference slate, La Salle faces Rhode Island and VCU.
Things could be difficult for the Explorers at the start, but if La Salle can big up a few marquee wins early they will give themselves some margin for error once play begins in the very tough Atlantic-10 conference.
Non-Conference: Nov. 18-26 (Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off, vs. Miami, vs. Temple)
The Explorers start the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off in Uncasville, Connecticut with a matchup against Northwestern, which returns four starters from last season’s NCAA Tournament team. La Salle will then face either Texas Tech or Boston College. Things don’t get much easier after that with tests against Miami and Temple.
Conference: Jan. 3-6 (@ Rhode Island, vs. VCU)
Neither Rams’ teams have treated La Salle kindly in recent history The Explorers have lost three of their last four games against VCU and six of their last seven against Rhode Island. La Salle’s only meeting with Virginia Commonwealth last season ended in a 90-52 loss. The Explorers split their two meetings with Rhode Island in 2016-17. La Salle will start 2018 with back-to-back games against the two tough Atlantic-10 opponents.
Opposing Players to See
1. Lonnie Walker, G, Miami
Walker, a freshman guard, was a McDonald’s American and ranked the No. 12 high school prospect of the 2017 class by ESPN.
2. Nana Foulland, C, Bucknell
Foulland was the Patriot League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year last season. The 6-9 center, who played his high school ball at Berks Catholic, averaged 15.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 2.1 bpg last season.
3. Bryant McIntosh, G, Northwestern
McIntosh earned second team All-Big 10 honors after averaging 14.8 ppg and 5.2 apg for the Wildcats. He was terrific in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 25 points in a win against Vanderbilt and 20 in a loss to Gonzaga.
Former Reading High School star Lonnie Walker returns home for this game, which will be played in Reading. The Hurricanes also feature former Neumann-Goretti star Ja’Quan Newton. Miami won 21 won games and went to the NCAA tournament last season. The Hurricanes lose two starters but return everyone else from last year’s team.
Former Duke player and assistant Chris Collins, the son of former Sixers’ coach Doug Collins, took Northwestern to unprecedented territory last season. The Wildcats made history by becoming the first team in school history to make the NCAA Tournament in 2017.They return four starters from last year’s team and will provide the Explorers with a tough test early in the season.
3. Virginia Commonwealth
The Rams have gone to the NCAA Tournament for the past seven years and have won 24 or more games for the past 11 seasons. La Salle has a home game with VCU on Jan. 6, three games into its Atlantic-10 schedule. That could be a good indicator for if the Explorers are ready to compete for an A-10 title.
Full Schedule(all times TBD unless otherwise mentioned)
* = Atlantic-10 Conference game
# = Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off
+ = Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic
Sat., Nov. 11 vs. Saint Peter’s (3 PM)
Mon., Nov. 13 @ Penn
Thurs., Nov. 16 vs. South Alabama (7 PM)
#Sat., Nov. 18 vs. Northwestern (2:30 PM)
#Sun., Nov. 19 vs. Texas Tech/Boston College
Weds., Nov. 22 vs. Miami (6 PM)
Sun., Nov. 26 vs. Temple (5 PM)
+Fri., Dec. 1 vs. Towson
+Sat., Dec. 2 vs. Manhattan/Holy Cross
Thurs., Dec. 7 vs. Drexel (7 PM)
Sun., Dec. 10 @ Villanova (12 PM)
Sun., Dec. 17 vs. Mercer (4:30 PM)
Fri., Dec. 22 @ Bucknell (7 PM)
*Fri., Dec. 30 vs. Saint Louis (2 PM)
*Weds., Jan. 3 @ Rhode Island (7 PM)
*Sat., Jan. 6 vs. Virginia Commonwealth (2 PM)
*Weds., Jan. 10 @ Massachusetts
*Sat., Jan. 13 @ Duquesne (12:30 PM)
*Weds., Jan. 17 vs. Fordham (7 PM)
*Sat., Jan. 20 @ Richmond (2:30 PM)
*Weds., Jan. 24 vs. Massachusetts (7 PM)
*Weds., Jan. 31 @ Davidson (7 PM)
*Sat., Feb. 3 vs. Saint Joseph’s (4 PM)
*Weds., Feb. 7 @ George Washington
*Sat., Feb. 10 @ Saint Louis
*Tues., Feb. 13 vs. St. Bonaventure (7 PM)
*Sat., Feb. 17 vs. George Mason (2 PM)
*Tues., Feb. 20 vs. Rhode Island (7 PM)
*Sat., Feb. 24 @ Fordham (2 PM)
*Weds., Feb. 29 vs. Dayton (7 PM)
*Sat., March 3 @ Saint Joseph’s (2 PM)