Manhattan (0-0) at La Salle (0-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 2 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Tom Gola Arena (3,400) -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Television: None. Home Record: Manhattan 0-0, La Salle 0-0. Away Record: Manhattan 0-0, La Salle 0-0. Neutral Record: Manhattan 0-0, La Salle 0-0. Conference Record: Manhattan 0-0, La Salle 0-0. Series Record: La Salle leads, 38-7.
GAME NOTES: The La Salle Explorers will make their first appearance since last year's run to the Sweet 16, as the welcome the Manhattan Jaspers to Tom Gola Arena for non-conference action.
Coach Steve Masiello returns 89 percent of the scoring and 88 percent of the rebounding from last season's Jaspers squad that finished just one game short of an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament field. Manhattan was the MAAC Tournament runner-up and went 14-18 overall and a 9-9 finish in conference play. The Jaspers lost some of their significant contributors to injuries, which caused a miserable performance through a difficult non-conference slate. Manhattan will now begin its quest for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2004.
The Explorers have been on the rise for some time under coach Dr. John Giannini. They went 24-10 overall last season to improve upon their overall record for the third straight campaign. La Salle made a thrilling run in March with victories over Boise State, Kansas State and Ole Miss in the opening three rounds of the NCAA Tournament. It will have a big hole to fill as leading scorer and assist man, Ramon Galloway, is no longer in the fold. The Explorers are a dark horse to compete for the Atlantic 10 Conference crown if their four-guard lineup yields the same results as a season ago.
La Salle holds a 38-7 all-time series lead over Manhattan. The Explorers are 17-3 versus the Jaspers when playing at home.
The Jaspers are excited to have back George Beamon, who appeared in only four games before suffering a season-ending injury. Beamon not only provided 16.8 points per game, but also grabbed 6.3 rebounds per outing. He will have some help as Rhamel Brown brings back 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest. Brown also registered 95 blocked shots last season, although he is a liability to have on the floor late in games due to a 40.5 percent clip at the free- throw line. Michael Alvarado (8.4 ppg) can put up points as well, but his 34.8 percent from the field is a concern, while Emmy Andujar (8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) has issues behind the three-point line (.282).
Although La Salle no longer has Galloway to run the show, the team has Preseason First All-Atlantic 10 guard Tyreek Duren returning after averaging 14.3 points and 3.3 assists per outing as a junior. Fellow senior guard Tyrone Garland added 13 points and two assists per game and junior forward Jerrell Wright is valuable as both a scorer and rebounder. The Explorers have a solid big man due to the presence of the 6-foot-11, 245-pound Steve Zack, who is healthy after struggling with injuries down the stretch of the 2012-13 campaign. D.J. Peterson is an excellent defender, which should help the team counter much of what Beamon attempts to do in the opener.
La Salle is a nightmare of an opponent due to its backcourt filled with confident and talented guards. The Explorers may not be quite as powerful on the offensive end, but their quickness should lead to plenty of steals and transition buckets against the Jaspers, who need to control the pace to have a chance of an upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: La Salle 69, Manhattan 60
11/09 10:30:52 ET