In the Atlantic 10 opener for both La Salle outlasted George Washington 76-72 in Philadelphia and their guards led the way. Sam Mills scored a team-best 17 points, with Tyrone Garland (15) and Tyreek Duren (13) also scoring in double figures for the Explorers, who are looking to capture some of the magic that resulted in a trip to the Sweet 16 last season. La Salle struggled in non-conference play in 2012-13, only to rebound with an 11-5 mark in the Atlantic 10.
Isaiah Armwood led three George Washington players in double figures with 15 points to go along with 12 rebounds, and the Colonials had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. However Joe McDonald was called for a charge with four seconds remaining, and on the ensuing possession Duren hit two free throws to provide the final margin.
If there’s a concern for La Salle moving forward it’s rebounding, with George Washington rebounding 42.5% of its missed shots on the night. La Salle entered the game eighth in the Atlantic 10 in defensive rebounding percentage, and besides Jerell Wright and Steve Zack there isn’t much depth for Dr. John Giannini to rely on. But that was the case last season, and the Explorers were able to account for this with effort and solid guard play. Can they do it again? Thursday’s victory is a step in the right direction.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.