Anytime a team makes it to a major championship game (college or professional), people can’t help but question how they’ll respond in the next game/season. The 2001
Saint Louis LA Rams were an offensive masterpiece, leading the NFL in scoring behind MVP’s Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. Even though they were upset in the Super Bowl by the Patriots, people predicted ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ would continue down the same dominating path the way they did the previous three seasons. But the Rams started their next season 0-5. The Show was over.
Roy Williams commanded his 2009-2010 Tar Heels to a 34-4 record and a 5th National Championship, with a little help from the likes of Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and Tyler Zeller. The following year the Heels nosedived to 5-10 in the ACC and an overall record of 20-17, with the cherry on top being a loss in the NIT Finals to London Warren and the Dayton Flyers.
“Championship Hangovers” is how we define these less-than-stellar performances following championship game appearances. As Archie was cutting down the nets following a victory in the sixth best college basketball rivalry this week, people began wondering how the Mighty Daytona Fliers would respond for this Saturday’s match-up in the Sweater Centre.
The Arch-Baron Cup has undoubtedly made its rounds to every dining hall and Discover Arts Laboratory on campus this week. After Archie’s victory the other night, we caught up with him outside the PPP (Pizza/Pop/Parents) party the team threw at a local campus establishment.
The January 9th loss can be chalked up as a “that-one-game-Dayton-is-good-for-every-season” defeat. One can only assume Archie used it as prime bulletin board material in the locker room all month. Scoochie, Big Steve and Darrell combined for EIGHT points that night and Pollard was out with an injury. The good news is both teams have taken opposite paths since: Dayton responded by winning their last five games and LaSalle lost five straight.
The only difference in personnel this go around for the Explorers is the availability of Rohan Brown, who returned this week after being out since December with a knee injury. The 6’6″ redshirt senior G/F averages 22.5 minutes and 5.2 minutes per game, with a whopping 2 points in his two games this week. Big Steve should have a field day if Brown gets any PT.
Even with the return of Brown, the Explorers are still playing with roughly seven total players. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of team they are in the next year or two with three transfers sitting out this year, 6-9 Demetrius Henry from South Carolina, 6-7 B.J. Johnson from Syracuse, and 6-0 Pookie Powell from Memphis. But for now, even though their lone conference victory comes against us, this team still sits underneath the cellar of the A10.
Jordan Price continues to be “dat dude” for LaSalle and is coming off a decent showing against Duquesne with 21 points and 8 rebounds, despite playing with a fractured finger on his shooting hand. Sophomore Tony Washington grabbed 12 rebounds in the same game, his third straight with double-digit rebounds. Regardless, with Pierre getting a few more games under his belt since our first matchup and Pollard in the lineup, say a prayer for Dr. John’s Explorers.
We can probably expect La Salle to take the air out of the ball again and limit each team’s possessions. Regardless, Jordan Price will be a major component of the Explorer’s offense. Even in the earlier matchup against UD, Price managed to get up fifteen of La Salle’s forty-six shots. This is only a concern if Price is hot, which he hasn’t been in quite some time (his last three games — 4 of 21, 5 of 12 and 7 of 24).
La Salle will more than likely line up three other guards with Price on Saturday afternoon. Johnnie Shuler, Cleon Robert and Amar Stukes will all go as long as they can stand against UD. None of the aforementioned guards are particularly outstanding offensively, although Roberts and Shuler do have the ability to knock down open shots from the perimeter. Stukes would lose a three-point shooting contest to Big Steve. The fact that La Salle goes with four guard offensively tells us that they are severely undersized defensively. This analysis, of course, completely ignores the fact that the Explorers beat Dayton just a few weeks ago.
Tony Washington will play the majority of the minutes in the middle. Washington is a solid player who knows his skill set and doesn’t shy away from what he does best, score around the hoop and rebound. Dr. John will have a big he can count on next season when he brings in the greatest transfer class in the history of college basketball. Until then, Washington will be tasked with doing just about everything the Explorer backcourt can’t/won’t.
The La Salle bench is non-existent, as Dr. John will attempt to play as close to 200 minutes with his starters as he can. However, should one of his players get in foul trouble or spit up blood, Rohan Brown and Karl Harris are two most probable guys off the bench. Brown hasn’t taken a shot from the floor in his past twenty-eight minutes of play and Harris is more than happy to stay out of everyone’s way as well. Don’t be surprised if Dr. John doesn’t pull a Norm Dale at some point during the game:
Looking at La Salle’s analytics just makes you wonder how in the hell UD lost to them in the first place. The Explorers have the statistical profile of a bottom-dwelling team in the SWAC or MEAC. They don’t shoot the ball well, they are completly dreadful when it comes to crashing the boards and they rarely get to the line. Any team that allows more than sixty points against La Salle deserves to lose. The Explorers have won one games since November, against Dayton. La Salle has tasted victory once in Atlantic Ten play, against the Flyers. It’s embarrassing.
The Explorers will attack UD the same way they’ve gone since being beset by injuries, slowing the pace to a crawl and jacking up the first decent look from three they can get. La Salle is completely dependent on their success from behind the arc, where they shoot an unseemly 44.5% of their shots. Fortunately for their opponents, Dr. John’s club is only connecting on 32% of their three-point attempts.
There’s no other way to put it — the Explorers simply don’t play defense. They allow 1.09 points per posssession, which places them at 306th in the nation. La Salle gives up an offensive rebound (and I had to re-check this statistic to make sure it was correct, that’s how horrendous it is) on 35.9% of their opponent’s possessions. That ranks them 339th out of the 351 teams in Division I. Where’s the pride, La Salle?
Expect Archie to put a heavy foot on the pedal from the tip and silence the “Arch-Baron Cup hangover” theorists. 75-59 Flyers.
(Direct all comments/threats to @KTuleta)