Just Simply Win The A-10 Tournament: La Salle Men’s Basketball Week In Review 3/7/23


Nicholas Signoretta, Editor

Official branding for this week’s upcoming A10 Men’s Basketball Championship. (courtesy of seatgeek.com)

There is now only one option remaining for the La Salle men’s basketball team if they want to keep playing basketball this spring.  Left with no other ways to preserve their season, the Explorers (13-18, 7-11) must win this week’s upcoming A-10 Tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  After an appalling run of form (lost five straight), La Salle will hope to run through five straight basketball games to cut down the nets to claim their first ever Atlantic 10 title.

The group that will lead La Salle University to the promised land: The 2023 NCAA Tournament. (courtesy of doms.pov)

What is a 7-11 conference record good for in the modern A10 economy?  That will get you the #11 Seed and a date with the #14 Seed Rhode Island Rams (9-21, 5-13).  The First Round matchup, or as polite society refers to it, the P.I.G. (play-in game) will take place on Tuesday, Mar 6th, at 4:30PM EST and will stream on ESPN+.  La Salle split their season series with Rhode Island, winning 77-75 in OT at Tom Gola Arena on Jan 7th, and losing in the return trip 72-70 at the Thomas M. Ryan Center on Jan 28th.  Neither team has been in form recently, with Explorers rolling in on the previously mentioned five-game losing streak and the Rams losing eight of their last nine.

If La Salle were to win their first matchup and escape the P.I.G., their next two opponents would be set, with their Second Round game being against the Duquesne Dukes (20-11, 10-8) on Wednesday, Mar 8th, at 7:30PM EST.  The Explorers fell to the Dukes earlier this year 91-74 on Feb 22nd at Tom Gola Arena.  If La Salle can somehow avenge that defeat, they earn themselves a Thursday, Mar 9th, 7:30PM EST date with the Fordham Rams (24-7, 12-6).  As you may guess, La Salle also fell at the feet of Fordham.  That game also took place at Tom Gola Arena on Jan 14th, with the Rams winning 66-64 on a buzzer-beater.  Both games would be streamed on USA Network.  The Semifinals and Finals will take place on Saturday, Mar 11th, and Sunday, Mar 12th.  The former will be found on CBS Sports Network while the latter will be on CBS.

The bracket for the 2023 A10 Men’s Basketball Championship. (courtesy of atlantic10.com)

The moral of the story: La Salle might win a game.  Throw a parade?  No.  Rage in next week’s article?  Possibly.

Boys Bounce Bonnies, Sweep The Minutemen Aside: La Salle Men’s Basketball Week In Review 2/14/23


Nicholas Signoretta, Editor

Hassan Drame gets set to rip a ball from beyond the arc. (courtesy of shotbyscornely)

The last time the La Salle University men’s basketball team lost a game, Herbert Hoover was still holding the keys to the Oval Office.  Luckily for me, the La Salle Collegian does not employ a single fact-checker, so no one can disprove this statement, but a minor logistical error should not take away from the work Fran Dunphy and the boys are putting in on the hardwood these past two weeks (Dunphy might have been alive during the Hoover administration, don’t fact check that one either).  After dropping five contests in a row in the month of January, the Explorers have bounced back, risen from the dead (in accordance with the scriptures), and rolled off four straight victories to find themselves sitting nice and pretty in the middle of their conference standings with a little under a month of regular season basketball to play.  We shall now dive into the efforts Olney’s finest put out this past week.

La Salle’s journey to stability in mediocrity started with a dreaded trip to Olean, New York, to face the Saint Bonaventure Bonnies (13-12, 7-4) in the Reilly Center on Wednesday, Feb 8th.  The Explorers have not won a game at the Bonnies since 2015, and the home team was bringing their own three-game win streak into the contest.  None of that fazed La Salle, as the Explorers were cooking in the 1st Half.  Josh Nickelberry and Andrés Marrero contributed four and two long balls respectively in the early going to spark a 26-10 La Salle run that helped the Explorers build a 44-35 lead going into intermission.  The 2nd Half would feature a close knife fight, with the score staying locked at 67-66 in favor of the Explorers for over four of the final five minutes.  Some timely points from Mamadou Doucoure mixed with some clutch free throw shooting helped La Salle put the game away 76-70 and leave frigid, hellish, western New York with a big win in hand.  Nickelberry’s 18 points off the bench paired well with Khalil Brantley’s 16 to set the Explorers up for a big game a few days later.

The final from Saint Bonaventure’s Reilly Center. (courtesy of lasallembb)

The second chore La Salle had to take care of this past week was cleaning up the house as they had a Saturday, Feb 11th, date at home against the UMass Minutemen (13-12, 4-9).  The Explorers had already taken care of the Minutemen earlier this season in Amherst by the score of 78-77, so this past Saturday’s preferred cleaning tool would have been the broom, a necessary item for sweeping.  The game was hotly contested in the 1st Half with an intermission score of 35-33, meaning La Salle would have to turn it on in the 2nd Half.  Spoiler: they did.  Nickelberry turned on the oven and began baking the UMass defense.  He finished with 21 points on seven deep balls and was one of five Explorers in the double-figures.  Those high-powered efforts led to La Salle closing out the contest 86-72 in front of a stellar home crowd.  As a big man, I have to shout out Rokas Jocius, who put in 12 points and 4 blocks.

The final from Tom Gola Arena. (courtesy of lasallembb)

With their win streak now at four, La Salle sits at 12-13 with a 6-6 mark in conference play.  There is a chance a couple more wins could seal the Explorers a bye-week come the A-10 Tournament in March, so every win is going to really matter from here on out.  La Salle’s upcoming contests are against the Richmond Spiders (13-13, 6-7) on Wednesday, Feb 15th, at Tom Gola Arena and on Saturday, Feb 18th, at the George Mason Patriots (14-12, 6-7).  The Spiders game is at 7PM EST, while the Patriots game is at 4PM EST.  Both games will be streamed on ESPN+. Next week, I will hopefully return to report on a six-game win streak.

Explorers Shift Gears And Return To The W Column: La Salle Men’s Basketball Week In Review 2/7/23


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+.