That’s what sheer joy looks like.
La Salle coach John Giannini and his team crowded into a small room at Tom Gola Arena to watch Sunday’s selection show. It turned out to be worth the wait.
From CSN Philly:
La Salle was one of the last teams to have its named called on Sunday. The Explorers will face Boise State (21-10) in the first round (or, if you prefer the old parlance, a play-in game) of the West Regional on Wednesday in Dayton at 9:10 p.m. The winner will advance as the No. 13 seed to play No. 4 Kansas State in Kansas City on Friday at 3:10 p.m.
When the announcement was made, the players – previously hushed and tense – leapt up and began hugging and jumping and screaming in unison. Their elation was evident, and it was a long time in the making. This will be La Salle’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991-92.
“We’re thrilled to be in the NCAA tournament and hear our names called with the best teams in the country,” Giannini said. “We think we deserve to be there. You can’t win unless you’re there … a big step for our program is being part of this very special event, but also being recognized as one of the best teams in the country.”
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.
For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year.
On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.
Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.
Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.
In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.
As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.
(More to come from Chapel Hill…)
North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.
(H/T: The Cauldron)