La Salle University finished their non conference schedule with a 3-4 record. The Explorers began the season with a slow start after losing to Saint John’s, Saint Peter’s and Army. However, La Salle was able to recover with a win against Lincoln University and further built upon that momentum as they defeated both Drexel and Delaware. La Salle also had the pleasure of being the first game of A10 play with a loss to UMass.
Anyone who has watched a La Salle game this season knows this team is tough as nails. They played UMass with such aggression that they were practically pulling players down to floor by there jerseys. The fact of the matter is, this La Salle team can give anyone in the Atlantic 10 a headache.
Predicting the Remaining Games
Although La Salle has already played against a conference opponent, this Wednesday’s matchup against Dayton will be the start of their A10 exclusive play. Below are the nonscientific predictions for how the Explorers will fare in the conference. NOTE: The prediction includes the game that was already played against UMass.
vs. Massachusetts 12/16 – Loss, 71-61
@ Dayton 12/30 – Loss
vs. Fordham 01/02 – Win
vs. Saint Louis 01/06 – Loss
@ Massachusetts 01/09 – Win
@ George Mason 01/13 – Win
vs. Saint Joseph’s 01/18 – Win
@ Richmond 01/23 – Loss
vs. Rhode Island 01/27 – Win
@ VCU 01/30 – Loss
vs. Davidson 02/03 – Loss
@ Saint Joseph’s 02/06 – Loss
vs. George Washington 02/13 – Win
@ Saint Louis 02/16 – Loss
vs. Richmond 02/20 – Win
@ St. Bonaventure 02/24 – Loss
vs. Duquesne 02/27 – Win
@ Fordham 03/03 – Win
Record: 9 – 9
What Has Worked Well
Coach Ashley Howard has successfully incorporated the new additions to the roster rather quickly. Through the non-conference schedule, La Salle has had almost 40% of their scoring contribution come from players who were not on the 2019-2020 roster.
The Explorers had standout performances from Freshman Jhamir Brickus, Freshman Anwar Gill, and red shirt Junior transfer Clifton Moore. Coach Howard deserves a lot of credit for finding these players and integrating them this early in the season.
Out of all the new additions to the roster, Jhamir Brickus has been the biggest standout. The freshman guard is shooting a solid 63% from within the three point arc and 52% from beyond. What impresses most about his play is the fact that he can score from anywhere. His ability to score outside and inside provides him with a ton of options from where he can operate on the court.
While the contribution of the team has been evenly spread throughout the roster, Brickus’s stats standout by the mere fact that he is a freshman. While freshman Anwar Gill has similar scoring stats, his efficiency still lags in comparison to Brickus’s. For example, Brickus has an effective field goal percentage of 69% while Gill has 43%.
However, expect both players to increase their contribution on the team as the schedule continues. These two should be in contention for A10 rookie of the year.
Success Moving Forward
Looking at the stats, there are a few things that La Salle does well on both offense and defense. First, La Salle is 44th in the country in three point percentage. Second, the Explorers are 25th in the country in blocks per game, and 23rd in total blocks which total 40.
Now, to be honest, some of those stats may be inflated because of their game against Lincoln University. However, even if you cut the stats from the Lincoln game in half the Explorers’ numbers wouldn’t change that much from a national perspective.
The fact of the matter is this team can do things well. La Salle has a balanced attack on offense scoring from both inside and outside. The contributions to the team are distributed evenly between their new additions, as well as their returning members.
When the Schedule Fits
La Salle was smart in scheduling medium to easy non-conference opponents. Just compare their scheduling to that of Saint Joe’s. Instead of playing against the best, the Explorers played against the average and were able to build confidence and synergy as a roster. Teams that are rebuilding need those games more than they need national recognition.
La Salle has the coach, the confidence, and the cohesion in order to play hard in the Atlantic 10. While there is still room to grow, this team is in a better spot than they were a year ago, and that is something to be happy about. In addition, Coach Howard has instilled a sense of Philly toughness within this team. They will kick the best teams in the mouth and not think twice about it.
La Salle is scheduled to play Dayton University today (Wednesday) at 7:00pm on ESPN+. The Dayton Flyers are -12.5 point favorites for tonight’s game.