By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s Big 5 action on Saturday at Gola Arena as La Salle hosts Penn.
Both teams are coming off losses last time out. La Salle was outscored by 23 points in the second half down in Miami, losing to the Hurricanes, 76-59, to fall to 9-3 on the season.
“Defensively we were extremely poor,” La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini tells KYW Newsradio. “There’s nothing we worked on more than defense. To not do the fundamentals and habits that we’re taught and that we’ve been taught for a long time was really disappointing, especially given that it was such a great opportunity. But we’ll move on, we have a great challenge this weekend.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Dr. John Giannini:
The Quakers are 2-10 after losing to #17 Butler on Wednesday night, 70-57. That was their fifth straight loss. Penn played that game without leading scorer Fran Dougherty. He has been sidelined by mononucleosis and is not expected to play against the Explorers. Head coach Jerome Allen talks about getting by without the 6’8″, junior forward.
“Obviously, Fran is an important player for us, but it’s a team sport,” Allen tells KYW Newsradio. “I think other guys have an opportunity to step up and contribute. We’re not trying to replace him, we just need guys to play with more of a sense of urgency.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Jerome Allen:
As for this match-up, Allen says the Explorers bring a lot to the table.
“They have a strong unit that they start and then they bring (guard) Tyrone Garland off the bench and (guard D.J.) Peterson off the bench,” Allen says. “Those guys could be starters with probably 70-to-80 percent of the Division I programs in the country.”
Giannini says it is quite apparent that this young Penn team has already made a lot of progress this season.
“They are infinitely better than what their record shows, they are not the same team they were a couple weeks ago,” Giannini says. “They are playing so much better. They’ve had close losses against very good teams.”
Last season it was La Salle beating the Quakers, 68-57, at the Palestra. The Explorers have actually won the last five match-ups between these two rivals.
Penn and La Salle will tip-off at 2:00pm on Saturday afternoon.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.