By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s off to Los Angeles for the La Salle Explorers.
Their run in the NCAA Tournament continues after a dramatic 76-74 win over Ole Miss, Sunday night in Kansas City. The Explorers now match-up with Wichita State on Thursday night in the ‘Sweet 16’.
The Explorers third win in five days in the tournament wasn’t decided until Tyrone Garland hit a scoop lay-up with two seconds left, snapping a 74-74 tie. The Explorers haven’t been this deep into the tournament since 1955.
“I think for the guys, it’s absolutely tremendous,” La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini told KYW Newsradio on Monday. “It’s what players strive for. Everyone wants to be in the NCAA Tournament and win and advance and have a chance to go to the Final Four. It’s just great for the players, it’s great for the La Salle community.”
Giannini says he will enjoy this tournament run immensely – in the offseason.
“The players have to be focused a few hours a day when you’re preparing for a game,” Giannini says. “Other than that, we want them to enjoy the experience. We want them to stay up on their schoolwork. But as a coach, you have to figure out what you’re going to do in practice and what you’re going to emphasize and learn as much as you can about the opposition and try and figure out what the keys are. And when you need to do that with an opponent that you know nothing about, in the matter of a couple days, you’re not going to take the time to enjoy it that the players will.”
La Salle’s postseason run has come without the services of a key component as sophomore center Steve Zack has been sidelined with a foot injury. As for his status going forward . . .
“It’s week to week,” Giannini says. “We always evaluate him at the start of the week, so they’ll look at him. I would say the odds are against [him playing], but you never say never.”
Wichita State is 28-8 on the season. They got to the Sweet 16 by beating Pittsburgh in the second round and then upsetting the #1 seed in the West region, Gonzaga, on Saturday, 76-70.
Thursday night’s ‘Sweet 16’ game in Los Angeles will tip-off at 10:17pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.