By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After taking care of the St. Joe’s Hawks on Wednesday night, the St. Louis Billikens will continue a mini-tour of Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon when they visit those La Salle Explorers.
17-8 La Salle has dropped two straight, including a heartbreaking 78-76 loss down at Richmond on Wednesday night. The Explorers struggled on the glass in defeat, getting outrebounded 45-27 by the Spiders and the game-winning basket in the final seconds was a put back off an offensive rebound.
“Rebounding is probably our greatest weakness, ” La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini tells KYW Newsradio. “We’ve traded off some size for that (playing four guards). On the other hand, out turnovers are way down, our shooting percentage is way up. I think our defensive field goal percentage has been good with our ability to pressure. And a thing that doesn’t show up in the stat sheet is you’re quicker to loose balls when you’re smaller. So you can’t be great at everything, but you have to be able to come up with the big rebound here or there and we just weren’t able to do it.”
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Dr. John Giannini:
The Explorers will look for a better result against a very good St. Louis team that brings a 19-5 record to Gola Arena. Giannini says the Billikens are well-rounded.
“As I got into watching them and really look at them in great detail, I think they are a team with very few, if any, weaknesses. They are very, very good defensively. They have a great point guard with Kwamain (Mitchell). They have an outstanding big man with (Brian) Conklin. They have big guys who shoot well, who compliment Conklin inside. They have slashers, some athletes. They just have a lot of depth at everything you want, whether it’s post play or size or shooting or playmakers.”
St. Louis is 19-5 this season and 7-3 in the Atlantic 10. They are one of three teams tied for second place in the conference, half a game behind Temple. The Explorers are 6-4 in the A-10, that’s good for fifth in the conference.
The Explorers have been brilliant at home, they are 12-0 at Gola Arena this season and they have won 14 straight dating back to last season. That is the 10th longest active home winning streak in the nation.
La Salle and St. Louis will tip-off on Saturday at 2:00pm at Gola Arena.