Teams across the Atlantic 10 are announcing their basketball schedules today. So far Temple and Saint Joseph's have released their slates.
The Owls have a number of big games. Their non-conference schedule includes neutral-site games against Duke at the Izod Center and Syracuse at Madison Square Garden. There's also a trip to famed Allen Fieldhouse to face Kansas.
That game and the season-ending home game against Virginia Commonwealth will be televised by CBS over-the-air. It is the first time since the 2001-02 season that Temple will appear on network television.
It took most of the season, but La Salle is finally able to play defense. Their recent efforts have been turning up big results. The Daily News' Marcus Hayes has more from Tom Gola Arena.
We are on the way back from the Charleston Classic. I have never been to Charleston before and would love to go back to enjoy it more.
Our team played a strong first half against a very good South Carolina team before they outplayed us in the second half. I would be surprised if they are not an NCAA Tournament team. Their length and athleticism and the offensive talent of Downey and Archie make them very good.
We then played our best game of the year against an outstanding Davidson program. Even without Stephen Curry, they will win a lot this year, as they have for many years before Curry. Their execution, skill and toughness are constants in their program and to win was something for us to feel good about.
ATLANTIC CITY -- Kwamain Mitchell hit a driving layup with 1.8 seconds left in overtime to give the ninth-seeded St. Louis Billikens a 62-60 win over 8th-seeded La Salle in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
“We were fortunate to beat them today,” said St. Louis coach Rick Majerus.
La Salle started the game well, jumping to a 12-4 lead, scoring on five of its first six possessions. But the team got cold, finishing the half hitting just 10-for-27 from the floor, and fell behind by 26-24.
WE'RE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO: Stopping by one of the nearby racebooks between sessions to check out the action from Gulfstream Park. Semi-seriously, just some competitive hoops. Trying to make sense of this bracket is like trying to make sense of the regular season. There was a three-way tie for second and four-way tie for fifth. The regular-season champion had four losses. Should be a few games decided late where good luck or bad can change everything in an instant.
TEAM ON THE RISE: La Salle was playing its best basketball at the finish. No player in the league is playing better at the moment than Rodney Green. The Explorers just came from behind to win at Saint Louis Saturday night. The same matchup opens the tournament.
TEAM ON THE DECLINE: Since upsetting Xavier, Charlotte has lost four of five. Its only win was against Fordham, which really does not count. This team is more talented than its record, but injuries and inconsistency put them 11th in the standings when they were picked fifth
We were very pleased with our last win in St. Louis where the Billikens were 14-2 at home going into the game with wins against outstanding Dayton and Boston College teams. Now, we have the difficult task of beating them again in the A-10 Tournament. While we are please with a fifth-place finish in the tough Atlantic 10, we are certainly not satisfied. We have a great opportunity ahead of us and we know a few more wins in the regular season would have helped our postseason chances.
We are playing with an “edge” again. In our first 21 games we outrebounded teams 16 times. Then, we hit a bad stretch where we lost games and were outrebounded in those games. We are back to outrebounding our opponents and winning in our last four games. I believe rebounding is a measure of effort for our team. In a very long season, I think we lost some of that “edge” in practice a couple of weeks ago. We responded by making our practice scrimmages competitive and rewarding winning teams with an opportunity to start the next game. It has really helped our intensity and preparation.
With our win at Saint Louis, Paul Johnson, our first recruit, will leave La Salle with a winning career record and his degree. The most important goals for any student-athlete should be to receive a great education and have a winning experience. Paul set the standard and we feel we will continue to give our student-athletes successful experiences on and off the court.
We just finished what I feel was our poorest week of the season. Explanations are very difficult and theories are too numerous to go in to. It is especially disappointing because our fan support was great Sunday.
I know we can and will play better. For some strange reason we play better away from our homecourt.
The cliché's about sport being a microcosm of life are true. We must overcome disappointment and work to do better. Our minimal goal this year is to produce a winning season. That is critically important to us.
Our team is playing better but consistency and toughness in very close games will be the keys for us and every A-10 team. With the exception of Xavier (I feel they are as good as last year’s Elite Eight team), most A-10 games are a toss-up. The talent level among each school’s starting five is very equal. Depth, toughness, good shooting, smart decisions and some lucky breaks will make the difference in games, but the talent level is very even and at a high level.
Leadership in not only games but also in practice is key. Paul Johnson and Rodney Green do a great job for us on a daily basis. We constantly stress to our players the importance of practice (“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – John Wooden; “Every battle is won before it’s fought” – Sun Tzu).
Here is a great insight into Paul Johnson’s leadership. In the offseason we lift at 7:30 a.m. Paul personally checks to make sure each teammate is up early and ready to go. In season, we have our normal strength maintenance program and lift after practice. Devon White, as a redshirt freshman, comes in early for the extra workout. He is doing a great job with his strength and conditioning. We are excited about him, Karon Burton and Aaric Murray as freshmen together next year. But all that extra work is hard and developing discipline is not easy. How has Devon done it? With the help of Paul, who does the extra workout with Devon every day.
There are so many great stories that are not told in college basketball and we are fortunate to have some special ones at La Salle.
We are on our way to Charlotte. Our next three A-10 games are at Charlotte, at Xavier and at UMass. The first half of our A-10 schedule is about as tough as it gets. We have to get some wins and I feel at some point we will put a winning streak together.
We were extremely disappointed in our showing against Temple. We have great respect for them. We are very frustrated we did not challenge them more. We have numerous theories besides the obvious fact that Temple has an excellent team. They include a game plan that may have caused hesitation defensively, 8 days between games when we were playing well (and I wonder if we did too much or too little in that time) and early foul trouble for Vernon Goodridge.
We move on and I am convinced that we are better off when we focus on our own team and what we do as opposed to spending time becoming more familiar with our opponents.