The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
I’ll post links on Twitter (@DavidPJablonski) and on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DavidPatrickJablonski.
No. 20: La Salle game
The Flyers avoided a bad loss, the type of loss that puts you on the dreaded Bubble Watch list, for the first 25 games last season. Then they lost at Duquesne. Two weeks later, they lost at La Salle. Eight days after that, they watched the Selection Show in Yonkers at a random sports bar right next to a cemetery, having no idea they how close they were to not making the field at all.
The La Salle loss not only put the Flyers on the bubble — though the experts at the time assured everyone they were in because of their win at VCU — it cost UD a share of the A-10 title. The Flyers get their next chance to beat La Salle on Jan. 30 at UD Arena.
After reaching the Sweet 16 in 2013, the Explorers have finished 15-16 and 17-16 the last two seasons. They return one of the top players in the conference, guard Jordan Price (17.2 points per game), but lost two of their top four scorers: forward Jerrell Wright (12.1) and center Steve Zack (8.6).
Price transferred to La Salle after one season at Auburn and ranked second in the A-10 in scoring in his first season in the conference. He had four of the top 11 scoring performances in the A-10n. He had 34 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in an upset of VCU.
“Offense is in his DNA,” La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini told Philly.com in February. “But what we want him to become is a complete player. He can get lighter, which will make him a better defender. And you can see it coming. When we have played our best defense this season, he has been out there on the floor.”
Among the other returns is Philadelphis native Amar Stukes, who started 15 games as a redshirt freshman.
Stukes, the City of Basketball Love blog writes in their season preview, “is hoping his college career goes much like his high school years at La Salle HS–a quiet freshman year, followed by solid sophomore and junior years before he became one of the best guards in the city as a senior back in 2012-13. The Explorers are counting on him to take more of an aggressive approach in the offense this year, especially to take some pressure off his fellow starting guards.”
I know folks love Jordan Price but I have a very hard time believing he can carry a team any better than DeAndre Bembry could last season (Hawks finished 10th). They’ll be much improved the following season once a new crop of transfers becomes eligible but that does them no good during the 2015-16 campaign.
La Salle has nine scholarship players because three players are sitting out as transfers: 6-9 forward Demetrius Henry, who averaged 6.0 points for South Carolina last season; 6-7 forward B.J. Johnson, who averaged 4.3 points in 25 games for Syracuse; and guard Pookie Powell, who led Memphis with 2.7 assists per game.