La Salle had a very impressive non-conference showing, especially when you consider the 0-10 start the Explorers got off to last season. Ashley Howard has done a nice job in his 2nd season at La Salle, and while the Explorers didn’t grab any monumental wins, they’re sitting pretty at 9-3.
The best win La Salle was able to grab this non-conference slate was during the Gulf Coast Showcase against Wright St. in the semifinals. The Explorers would go on to win that tournament and picked up 3 nice Mid Major victories in the process — Wright St., Murray St., and South Alabama. The former was certainly the best victory, as Wright St. has gone 11-3 in non-conference play with no horrible losses. Outside of that game, the Explorers didn’t win any games you would classify as “good,” but they took care of business against the teams they were supposed to beat, and that’s all you can ask for there.
This category is pretty empty, as La Salle avoided any catastrophic losses that would have put them down in the dumps. At home against Iona was a close call, but the Explorers escaped in overtime. Their “worst” loss this far was against Temple at home or against Penn at home, but both are classified as “category B” games according to Kenpom, and there’s no shame in falling to either of those teams. If there is such thing as a “good loss,” La Salle was very competitive against a Villanova team that could win the Big East.
Looking Ahead to Conference Play
The Explorers have a good thing going right now and have managed to become a top 150 Kenpom team after starting the season in the 200s. That’s an awesome accomplishment. This team is starting to gain respect, and it rides into A-10 play with a 5 game winning streak, hosting Dayton at home this week. The Explorers are shaping up to be a strong middle-of-the-pack A-10 team, and Kenpom predicts an 8-10 finish in conference play. I have a feeling the Explorers will steal a few at Gola Arena.
Non-Conference Grade: A-
You can’t expect the Explorers to have done much more this season. They’re 9-3, and their only losses are to Villanova, Penn, and Temple — 2 of which were true road games. I’d like to see La Salle continue to progress under Ashley Howard, and in the coming seasons, it might not be unrealistic to think the Explorers could beat the likes of Villanova or Temple before league play.