By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The La Salle Explorers will play their first game since December 22nd on Saturday when they take on the Penn Quakers in a Big 5 match-up at the Palestra.

La Salle has been up and down so far this season, they will bring a 6-6 record into Saturday. Head coach Dr. John Giannini says they did their best to take advantage of the long break from games during the holidays.

“I think we wanted to practice, I think we wanted to get more healthy,” Giannini tells KYW Newsradio. “I don’t think we were pleased with how we were playing, although our effort has not been bad. But we’ve been missing shots, we haven’t been in flow offensively. We have a few guys just not playing as well as they’re capable of. So when you’re not as good as you think you can be, practice is a good thing.”

As for the health of his squad.

“I think we’re pretty good,” Giannini says. “I think anything we have is more minor. The two guys who had serious issues were (guard) Tyreek Duren, who I think the Wagner and the Miami games were the first two games he said he was pain free, with his plantar fasciitis. And of course that limited his practice reps a lot, too. So he just hasn’t been his usual self. He’s better now and (guard) Khalid Lewis, of course, went from a broken hand to a pretty good case of turf toe, where we really limited his practices, too. Both those guys are feeling better and they’ve practiced more, and hopefully they get to be more of their usual self.”

While the season has been inconsistent for the Explorers, it has been incredibly frustrating for the Quakers. Their 80-77 loss at George Mason on Thursday night dropped them to 2-9. But Giannini thinks that record is not an accurate portrayal of how good the Quakers really are.

“I think Penn is going to have a really good year in the Ivy,” Giannini says. “They can score, and they’re talented and they are playing hard. I just think they have had a little bit of bad luck.”

La Salle has won six straight match-ups with Penn, including a 74-57 decision last season at Gola Arena.

Tip-off on Saturday at the Palestra is set for 4:00pm.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.