Tournament play usually results in teams unfamiliar with each other having to figure out over a couple of days how to defeat an opponent they have little (or no) knowledge of before studying game film.
That’s certainly the case for West Region 13-seed La Salle, which will play in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1955 when they take on 9-seed Wichita State tonight in Los Angeles.
Where is Wichita State located? During the team’s media availability period on Wednesday s couple of Dr. John Giannini’s players seemed to have a tough time answering the question.
Ramon Galloway: “No, I don’t know.”
Tyrone Garland: “No, I never been to Wichita … I saw a store down here called Which Which.”
Galloway: “That’s a sandwich place.”
Garland, smiling: “Oh.”
This isn’t an occurrence that should be seen as disrespectful; when it comes to pre-game preparation where the opposing school is located doesn’t rank as high on the list of priorities as figuring out their personnel and how to attack them.
And that’s the key for the Explorers, who received an important boost in the form of 6-11 center Steve Zack being cleared to play. Zack has missed the last six games due to sprained ligaments in his left foot, and his return gives La Sale some much-needed size to go along with forward Jerrell Wright.
Wichita State, which boasts front court players Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early, Carl Hall and Ehimen Orukpe, ranks among the best offensive rebounding teams in the country as they manage to rebound nearly 38% of their missed shots.
La Salle managed to beat Kansas State and Ole Miss in Kansas City last weekend despite both the Wildcats (40.5% offensive rebounding percentage) and Rebels (46.2%) doing a good job on the offensive glass.
The return of Zack (6.4 rebounds per game) will help matters, but if the Explorers are to advance to the Elite 8 all players in their rotation will need to chip in on the defensive glass.