Coach MacGillivray instructs his team during a media timeout. (courtesy of shotbyscornely)
Nicholas Signoretta, Editor
It was a rough week for the La Salle University women’s basketball team, as their five-game win streak they had cooked up throughout the second half of January was gone faster than you could say “Masciantonio”. A two-loss week leaves the Explorers needing to play some fine February basketball to keep pace with the pack towards the top of the A-10.
La Salle’s week of misfortunes began on Wednesday, Feb 1st, when the girls traveled to Virginia to face off against the VCU Rams (7-14, 4-5). The Rams had been struggling as of late, losing three of their last four, but they came to play against the Explorers. VCU forced La Salle to shoot a paltry 13 of 55 from the field (23.6%), including a dismal 3 of 23 from range (13%). The Explorers only trailed 13-10 at the end of the 1st Qtr and were level at the halftime break 21-21, but a 16-0 3rd Qtr run put the Rams ahead 40-31 going into the final frame. La Salle would actually cut the lead down to four with 7:30 left on the clock, but an 11-0 VCU run would close out the contest. The Explorers’ scoring dried up for the final seven and half minutes giving the Rams a 52-38 victory. The 38 points would be La Salle’s lowest scoring output of the season so far, with their previous low coming in a 75-50 loss at the South Florida Bulls (who are now ranked #24 in the AP Poll). The loss to the Rams was bad, but a bigger game against the A-10’s second best team still loomed on the horizon.
The final from VCU’s Stuart C. Siegel Center. (courtesy of lasalle_wbb)
La Salle returned home for a Saturday, Feb 5th, contest against the UMass Minutewomen (19-4, 9-1). The Minutewomen were going into the game hot, with their most recent loss coming on Jan 4th against the A-10’s best team, the Rhode Island Rams (19-3, 10-0). Since that game, UMass had won seven straight, so another horrid performance like the Explorers’ midweek fiasco at VCU would not cut it if La Salle wanted to pull off the upset in front of the home crowd at Tom Gola Arena. The team started off strong defensively, with UMass being held scoreless for almost the first five minutes of the contest. The problem: La Salle’s shooting woes were not behind them. The Explorers did not take advantage of the Minutewomen’s poor start, as they only amassed a 4-0 lead in this time. UMass would start cooking and would take a 9-7 lead into the start of the 2nd Qtr where they would stay hot and amass a 25-10 advantage halfway through the period. A small Explorers run would cut the lead to 32-21 entering the half, but the game would never get much closer. The 66-42 loss would mark the Explorers’ (14-10, 5-4) second straight game under 50 points after not having any in the first three months of the season. La Salle’s shooting was once again a major problem, as the girls shot 15 of 60 from the floor (25%) and 3 of 27 from downtown (11.1%).
The final from Tom Gola Arena. (courtesy of lasalle_wbb)
This upcoming week features two matches for the Explorers, a Wednesday, Feb 8th, trip to the Richmond Spiders (13-8, 3-5) and a home date against the Duquesne Dukes (15-9, 5-6) on Sunday, Feb 12th. The Richmond game starts at 6PM EST, while the Duquesne game will tip-off at 2PM EST. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.
Jhamir Brickus dribbles the ball up the court in La Salle’s 75-64 win over the George Washington Colonials. (courtesy of doms.pov)
Nicholas Signoretta, Editor
The La Salle University men’s basketball team is back, baby. After taking off for what seemed like the entire second half of the calendar month of January, the boys in blue and gold had a stellar week that featured not just one, but two wins to stop their freefall into utter irrelevance.
La Salle’s big week began on Wednesday, Feb 1st, with a contest at home in the Tom Gola Arena against the George Washington Colonials (11-11, 5-4). The Explorers opened the game with some strong play, cutting up GW early for a double-digit lead only eight minutes in that ballooned to a 32-18 lead with 4:39 left in the 1st Half. The lead would shrink down to just seven as the scoreboard read 35-28 as the teams entered the locker rooms for some rest and adjustments. The Colonials certainly took the time to change things up, as they opened the 2nd Half with a 17-4 run that saw them secure a 45-39 lead only five minutes into the half. Despite the visitor’s rally, the Explorers would not be deterred as they staged their own 10-0 run to reclaim a 49-45 lead just three minutes after GW completed their run. The teams would spend the next seven minutes trading small leads, until a huge three-ball from Jhamir Brickus ripped the game open with just over four minutes remaining. The Explorers would go on to close the game 75-64 in front of a popping home crowd (there was a decent student attendance due to the celebration of National Girls & Women In Sports Day) to end a painful five-game losing streak that hadn’t seen them win a game since their 78-77 win at the UMass Minutemen on Jan 11th.
Khalil Brantley is cool, calm, and collected from the free-throw line. (courtesy of shotbyscornely)
After La Salle took care of business earlier in the week, a Sunday, Feb 5th, trip to Hawk Hill to face the hated Saint Joseph’s Hawks (5-6, 11-12) at Hagan Arena was on the docket. A loss to society’s least favorite Jesuit university would give the Hawks their first sweep of the Explorers since the 2015-16 season and would also move the Hawks ahead of the Explorers in the overall Philly Big 5 standings for this current season. Needing this win, La Salle again came out playing the better basketball through the game’s opening, securing a 22-11 lead halfway through the 1st Half. Just like the GW game, the Explorers did their best to let that lead bleed away, taking only a 35-30 advantage into the break. Both sides would trade blows in the opening frames of the 2nd Half, with the score finding itself level at 45 all with twelve minutes remaining in the contest. It was here where Josh Nickelberry decided to take over the game, scoring the next eleven La Salle points to give the Explorers a 56-51 lead with 7:30 on the clock. Nickelberry hits three long balls in this period, which helped him pace the Explorers with 16 points on the day, including a 4 of 6 mark from beyond the arc. The Hawks would never be able to shrink the La Salle lead below five for the rest of the contest, as the Explorers combined timely baskets and stellar free throw shooting to ward off any late comeback attempts. The 73-65 win avenged La Salle’s earlier loss to St. Joe’s and brought the Explorers overall record to 10-13 on the season, with a 4-6 mark in A-10 games.
Andrés Marrero locks in on defense against the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. (courtesy of doms.pov)
This upcoming week for La Salle features a trip to Olean, New York, where the Explorers will face off against the Saint Bonaventure Bonnies (13-11, 7-4) on Wednesday, Feb 8th, at 7PM EST. The Bonnies will bring a three-game win streak into the matchup, which includes a 61-58 win at the A-10’s best team, the VCU Rams (18-6, 9-2). After their midweek trip, La Salle returns home to face off against the UMass Minutemen (13-10, 4-7) on Saturday, Feb 11th, at 2PM EST. The Explorers already knocked off the Minutemen 78-77 in Amherst as mentioned earlier in the article, so a sweep here would be huge for future tiebreakers. Both contests will be streamed on ESPN+.
Some of Super Bowl LVII’s stars. (courtesy of usatoday.com)
Nicholas Signoretta, Editor
Super Bowl LVII kicks off in a little under a week and this year’s big game has some obvious meaning to the local Philadelphian community that La Salle University finds itself nestled into. The matchup will feature the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs in what is expected to be a hard-fought battle highlighted by a thrilling duel between MVP finalist quarterbacks. With another chapter of the NFL finale looming on the horizon, the La Salle Collegian is here to break down the information you have probably already read on ESPN or TikTok but are willing to read again because you’re in a justified football craze.
To start off with the basics that need to be known for Sunday’s contest, Super Bowl LVII (57 for those who couldn’t be bothered to remember some random symbols they were taught in grade school) is set to kickoff Sunday, Feb 12th, at 6:30PM EST from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. For those not lucky enough to have a golden ticket to the event (the cheapest seat is currently north of $4,400), the game will be broadcast on Fox and will feature Kevin Burkhardt with the play-by-play and Greg Olsen with the color commentary. This will be the duo’s first appearance as Fox’s big game broadcasters, as the network formerly trotted out the pair of Joe Buck (play-by-play) and Troy Aikman (color), who called both Super Bowl XXXIX and Super Bowl LIV, both games that will be addressed later. The halftime show is set to star Rihanna, while the United States national anthem is to be sung by Chris Stapleton.
Now that the logistics have been sorted out, attention must shift to the game itself and the teams contesting the NFL’s greatest prize. The location of this Super Bowl is a great place to start. State Farm Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals, was constructed in 2006 and will be hosting its third Super Bowl. The previous two installments, Super Bowls XLII and XLIX, were two of the most iconic games in the storied championship’s history (think 18-1 New England Patriots and Malcolm Butler interception, respectively). With the location addressed, the competitors are obviously the next big thing to get into for Sunday’s finale. The Eagles and Chiefs are no strangers to the big stage, as both squads are making their third appearance in the big game in the twenty-first century, tied for third most behind only the Los Angeles Rams and the Patriots. The Eagles enter the contest boasting a 1-2 all-time Super Bowl record, with losses in Super Bowl XV and XXXIX and a triumph in their most recent trip, Super Bowl LII. The Chiefs bring in a cool record of 2-2, with early appearances in a Super Bowl I loss and a victory in Super Bowl IV complemented by a more recent run of good form with back-to-back showings in a Super Bowl LIV win and Super Bowl LV loss. Both squads having Super Bowl appearances in the past six years might lead one to think these two sides have been consistent contenders in recent history, but a deeper dive into the teams will tell the true story of who is playing for the Lombardi Trophy.
Jalen Hurts has been a machine this year, amassing 13 rushing touchdowns. (courtesy of The New York Times)
First, it feels right to start with the Eagles, the team that went from preseason NFC East favorite to league juggernaut in just a couple of months. There is no other place to begin talking about the Eagles than starting quarterback Jalen Hurts. Throughout the offseason, much of the Eagles potential success involving the 2022-23 season revolved around the third-year signal caller taking the next step to becoming the Eagles long-term answer under center. Hurts was being asking to take a leap forward so his team could do the same, but Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was going to make sure the former Heismann finalist had all the pieces around him to make it happen. Picks were sent to the Tennessee Titans for former Pro Bowl wide out A.J. Brown, who Roseman would then hand a four-year contract extension. To take pressure off Hurts’ offense, the defense was bolstered too. Linebacker Haason Reddick and cornerback James Bradberry were signed in free agency. Safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson entered the fold via trade with the New Orleans Saints. A first-round draft pick was spent on run stopping defensive tackle Jordan Davis. The result, a 14-3 record that was good enough for the NFC’s #1 seed with Hurts joining his new teammates Brown, Reddick, and Bradberry as AP Second Team All-Pros, while two more Eagles were selected to the First Team (right tackle Lane Johnson and center Jason Kelce, both pieces from the Philly’s last Super Bowl run). The Eagles played dominant football, scoring 28.1 Points Per Game (3rd in NFL) while only letting up 20.2 (7th in NFL) and registering 70 sacks (3rd most in NFL history). They dodged major setbacks, keeping a relatively healthy lineup while playing to such a level where most games were won with certainty and ease. They have hammered their playoff opponents by a combined score of 69-14, and they have just one test left to cap off a dream season for second-year head coach Nick Sirianni.
The Kansas City Chiefs are only a few years out from potentially becoming the next generation’s equivalent of the hated Patriots of the past two decades when it comes to consistent dominance. This year marked the team’s fifth straight AFC Championship appearance (all five contests played at home) and their third victory in that game in the past four years. At the center of the whole operation is former (and favored to soon be two time) league MVP Patrick Mahomes. Clocking in at twenty-seven years of age, Mahomes has already built the foundation for a potential GOAT argument a decade from now and watching him on any given Sunday will show you why he is arguably the most talented quarterback who has ever graced the NFL with his presence. Mahomes is a Madden cheat code on the field, slinging passes and escaping pressure with ease, inventing new ways for viewers’ jaws to drop to the floor week after week. While some may have believed the former Texas Tech man was going to take a step back after losing All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill to free agency, Mahomes just walked right back out and continued to display his greatness without missing a beat. With Hill gone, it became easier to appreciate Mahomes’ future Hall of Fame counterparts, tight end Travis Kelce and head coach Andy Reid. Both men are going to be two of the biggest narrative cogs in this year’s contest. Kelce is the younger sibling of the previously mentioned Jason Kelce (a future Hall of Famer himself), while Reid was the man patrolling the Eagles sideline only a decade ago, leading them to the earlier mentioned Super Bowl XXXIX, which he lost 24-21 to the Patriots. Reid has since gotten his ring, winning with this core of Mahomes and Kelce just three years ago in the Super Bowl LIV. Kansas City’s two most prominent ballers can’t be the only ones focused on here as, like the Eagles, the roster is loaded with star talent. Defensive tackle Chris Jones is a Defensive Player of the Year finalist and joined Mahomes, Kelce, and punter Tommy Townsend as AP First Team All-Pros, while left guard Joe Thuney and center Creed Humphrey made the Second Team. Free agency like wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have combined with draft selections like wide receiver Skyy Moore and running back Isiah Pacheco to keep Kansas City’s offense as potent as ever, while the defensive has been strengthened by the selections of cornerback Trent McDuffie and defensive end George Karlaftis. The pieces are here for the Chiefs to win the ultimate prize and solidify their position as the NFL’s next great dynasty.
Mahomes hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LIV. (courtesy of telegraph.co.uk)
So, who wins? What’s the verdict? Who’s going to Disney World after their crowning as Super Bowl LVII champion? Las Vegas likes the Eagles, with Philly clocking in as a 1.5 to 2 Point favorite depending on the sports book, which reasonably makes sense. They are the team on a roll, with the wind at their back, and the world liking their odds (ironic when you consider the narrative surrounding their last Super Bowl run). Despite all this though, I can’t reasonably pick the Eagles to win. Or better way to put it, I can’t reasonably pick Mahomes to lose. The man is Tom Brady 2.0 in every way. The only time I ever used to believe the Patriots were dead was when the clock read zero and they had less points. I always assumed they were winning until that moment because, as the Atlanta Falcons showed, anything is possible when you have strange voodoo magic in sports. I believe Mahomes has that strange voodoo magic. The man has already clawed back from the abyss of a major fourth quarter deficit in one Super Bowl, so why would I bet against him to do it again? Could this just turn out like Mahomes’ other trip to the big game, where he was hounded for sixty minutes by a dominant Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive front? Yes, I believe the previously mentioned Reddick, along with other double-digit sackers Brandon Graham, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat could kill Mahomes in a defensive bloodbath. But I’m taking the dude who I think is going to retire as the greatest man to ever throw the pigskin. Whatever happens, both teams should be proud of themselves for the seasons they put together. In the end, the NFL is just the friends we made along the way.
La Salle Women’s Basketball Week In Review 1/31/23
The final from Tom Gola Arena. (courtesy lasalle_wbb)
Beating up on league bottom feeders is not the most glamorous activity in which a team can partake on a January afternoon, but it’s something good teams have to do to keep pace with the front of the pack. The La Salle Women’s basketball team (14-8, 5-2) took care of A-10 cellar dweller St. Bonaventure (4-20, 1-8) 65-52 at Tom Gola Arena this past Saturday, Jan 28th, to extend their most recent win streak to five games, their longest streak since the 2019-20 season, and their longest such streak in conference play since the 2016-17 season.
The game opened with some back and forth until the Explorers opened up to a ten-point lead late in the 1st Qtr. The Bonnies narrowed the lead down to five just before the close of the 2nd Qtr, but the Explorers would score to take a 30-23 lead into the half. The 3rd Qtr featured some solid play by the visitors to narrow the La Salle lead to one point at 37-36, but the ensuing 19-3 run by the Explorers put the game away for good.
Mia Jacobs is following her sisters’ dominance when it comes to La Salle women’s basketball. (shotbyscornely)
La Salle’s win was highlighted by stellar outings from some of Australia’s finest exports, Claire and Mia Jacobs. Claire led the squad with 21 points, going 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, while her younger sister Mia dropped 17, burying 3 of 5 from range. Charity Shears also reached double-digit points herself, hitting 2 of 5 from three to finish with 10 points, while Kayla Spruill got big down low with 9 boards, all complemented by Molly Masciantonio’s 4 assists.
Molly Masciantonio is currently operating as one of the nation most efficient point guards. (courtesy lasalle_wbb)
With this weekend’s result giving the girls a 5-2 mark in conference play, La Salle find themselves sitting third in the A-10 with a month of basketball left to play in the regular season. Several upsets around the A-10 this weekend, including Davidson, Fordham, and Saint Joe’s all falling on the road have left the Explorers as the lone team with two conference losses. With league leader Rhode Island (17-3, 8-0) not on the remaining schedule, La Salle has some mild upside when it comes to possible seeding for this year’s A10 Women’s Basketball Championships in Wilmington, Delaware.
The girls are hard at work to secure the programs best campaign since the turn of the century. (courtesy shotbyscornely)
This upcoming week’s slate features a midweek matchup at the struggling VCU Rams (6-14, 3-5) who have lost ten of their last thirteen and a major home matchup against the UMass Minutewomen (17-4, 7-1) who are just ahead of the Explorers in the conference ladder. The VCU game will start at 11AM EST on Wednesday, Feb 1st, while the UMass game will begin at 2PM EST on Saturday, Feb 4th. Both contests will be broadcast on ESPN+. Hopefully I can bring you coverage regarding those matchups, but if I am once again relegated to talking about our exhilarating men’s team, just know that I hate Enrique Carrasco.
Society’s favorite La Sallian newspaper, may have taken the past month off to enjoy the winter holiday and delightfully dreary weather that plagues the northeastern United States, but the ever-middling La Salle Explorers men’s basketball squad was not afforded the same opportunity. While the average resident of 20th & Olney was bumming around all break, Coach Fran Dunphy and the boys were hard at work on the hardwood battlefield. As always, a new calendar year ushers in good ol’ conference basketball play, and with that, the realization that over eighty percent of the teams in NCAA Division 1 are not making the tourney and will be deeply irrelevant come mid-March. La Salle, for twenty-nine of the past thirty years, has fallen into this irrelevant grouping. Hopefully, the Explorers buck the trend this year (they were picked to finish bottom three in the league in most publications).
Courtesy of shotbyscornely
Since the last publication of my Men’s Basketball Review, La Salle has unfortunately settled into the dreaded swing of mediocrity. A steaming record of 8-11 has been complemented with a sterling mark of 2-4 in conference play. Highlights of the winter break include a 77-75 OT win over the Rhode Island Rams, a 78-77 upset win at the UMass Minutemen, and covering the spread at Saint Louis (very rare). While this start might not be ideal, there is a silver-lining somewhere in there. While our beloved Explorers might be average at best, the Atlantic 10 as a whole this year is frankly a steaming pile of disappointment. A league that began the year with a ranked Dayton team has fallen off in the whooping three months since the season tipped off. The conference is hellbent on the path to having just one team dancing come March, and that squad seems poised to fall to an average Big 12 in their opening tournament matchup. So the silver-lining is that La Salle is not the only “bleh” team in the A-10 this year. Everyone seems to be on their way for a forgettable 2022-2023 season.
This upcoming week, the Explorers get a home date against the Davidson Wildcats (9-10, 2-5) on Tuesday, Jan. 24, as well as a trip to Kingston, Rhode Island, to face the Rhode Island Rams (6-13, 2-5) on Saturday, Jan. 28. I pray they win these contests as they would make next week’s article exciting to write (but equally as painful).
La Salle University Men’s Basketball had a decent rebound week to kick off their post-Thanksgiving stretch. After a tough trip two weeks ago in the Jamaica Classic, the Explorers got the benefit of staying home in the City Of Brotherly Love for all three of their most recent contests.
The Explorers opened the week with a home contest at the ever-cozy Tom Gola Arena against the Binghamton Bearcats on Saturday, Nov. 26th. A narrow 65-62 victory almost slipped through the Explorers’ grasp as the Bearcats rallied back from multiple second-half deficits to take a lead with just under five minutes to play. Luckily, the boys from 20th and Olney rallied to bring home that sweet Thanksgiving break W.
The next contest the Explorers played was at the pinnacle of all Philadelphia basketball venues, the Palestra. In the first leg of a Philly Big 5 doubleheader, the Explorers tipped off against the second best university north of Market Street, the Temple Owls. While Temple may be a subpar university off the court, the Owls were the dominant squad on the hardwood. Temple guard Khalif Battle had a big night at the Cathedral of Basketball, leading all scorers with 22 points and guiding his squad to a 67-51 victory. The Explorers had a lead with under nine minutes left in the game, but Fran Dunphy’s first game back against his former employer was spoiled as La Salle was outscored 28-7 down the stretch, and the Owls improved their record against the Explorers to 25-7 this millennium.
La Salle closed out the weekend with another game at the Palestra. Their foe was a Big 5 team that also formerly employed Coach Dunphy, the Penn Quakers. Despite the Quakers’ home court advantage, that subpar excuse for a basketball team was no match for the mighty Explorers, led by guards Anwar Gill and Jhamir Brickus, who dropped career highs of 26 and 25 points, respectively. Penn guard Jordan Dingle(berry) scored a career high 37 points, including a three point heave at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, but the Quakers never had a chance to top the overpowering force of the Explorers.
Courtesy of shotsbycornely
With those three games in the books, La Salle now sits at a nice and even 4-4. Home matchups against the Bucknell Bison (6-3) on Tuesday, Dec. 6th, and the Drexel Dragons (4-5) on Saturday, Dec.10th, await the Explorers. With the rest of the out of conference slate looking rather winnable besides an away date with the Cincinnati Bearcats (6-3) on Saturday, Dec. 17th, La Salle has a solid chance to enter conference play with a winning record and a reason to exist come mid-February. Quite the ask.