Tag: La Salle Explorers

Fran Dunphy

The Palestra to host doubleheader in January to commemorate Big 5’s 60th anniversary

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When it comes to rivalries in college sports, the majority of them tend to focus on two programs that play on a frequent basis. That’s what makes the Big 5 different, in that it matches five programs in the Philadelphia metropolitan area (La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova) who meet annually with the winner being crowned “league” champion for that particular year.

And with the Big 5’s 60th anniversary coming in 2016, it was announced Wednesday that the Big 5 will bring back an old tradition for one night in January.

The old tradition: a doubleheader at The Palestra, which through the years has hosted many Big 5 games (including many that didn’t involve the Quakers before teams began hosting their home games on their respective campuses). The games will be held January 20, with La Salle hosting Temple and Penn hosting Saint Joseph’s.

“The Athletics Directors wanted to do something very special to celebrate this unique achievement,” Big 5 Executive Director Steve Bilsky said in the release. “We thought nothing would capture its history better than a competition to be held in the famed Cathedral of Basketball.

“The fact that we were able to pull it off in a very challenging college basketball scheduling environment is a credit to the AD’s, coaches, and conference commissioners, all of whom displayed tremendous perseverance and flexibility.”

The last time there’s been a doubleheader involving Big 5 teams was back in December 2004, with Temple beating Villanova, Penn taking care of La Salle and Saint Joseph’s falling to Drexel. Drexel, which wasn’t a Division I member when the Big 5 was created (they didn’t move up until the 1973-74 season), is also a city school but is not part of the Big 5.

This plan to bring back the Big 5 doubleheader, if only for one day, will be a fun “flashback” in a sense to what the rivalry used to be. That’s something that was lost once being in a conference took on greater importance in the 1980’s, which impacted the way in which some programs scheduled in non-conference play.

While it may be difficult for the Big 5 to go back to the days of consistent doubleheaders at The Palestra for that reason, hopefully this leads to the powers that be considering an annual doubleheader for future seasons.

La Salle guard will transfer and become immediately eligible

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Khalid Lewis #23 of the La Salle Explorers looks on against the Massachusetts Minutemen during the Second Round of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. La Salle Explorers defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen 76-69  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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La Salle guard Khalid Lewis is transferring from the program and will be immediately eligible as a graduate transfer, according to a report from Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop. The 6-foot-3 Lewis can man a bit of both guard spots and had a promising start to his college basketball career at Delaware before two largely underwhelming seasons with the Explorers.

Lewis started every game as a freshman at Delaware and helped lead them to a CBI appearance before transferring to La Salle. In the Atlantic 10, Lewis struggled to regain his freshman form, although he did have a much stronger junior season. In his junior campaign, Lewis played around 27 minutes per game and averaged 6 points, 2.2 assists and 2 rebounds per game for the Explorers.

With the market thinning on available guards who can help next season, it will be interesting to see which schools put out feelers for Lewis. If Lewis desires to play at a high-level program, he could fit in nicely as a reserve since he has plenty of experience, while he could likely step in and earn big minutes at a lower level program.

La Salle has some young point guards that will get more playing time with the departure of Lewis as Amar Stukes and Johnnie Shuler are likely to benefit.

Former South Carolina power forward Demetrius Henry transferring to La Salle

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Having already landed two transfers this offseason in the form of point guard Pookie Powell and small forward B.J. Johnson, La Salle picked up a commitment from a third player who began his career at another Division I institution Saturday morning.

Demetrius Henry, a 6-foot-9 power forward who played two seasons at South Carolina before deciding to transfer in search of more playing time, announced on Twitter that he’s headed to La Salle. Like the other two transfers added by head coach Dr. John Giannini, Henry will have to sit out the 2015-16 season. From there he’ll have two seasons to play for the Atlantic 10 program, which was in need of addition interior options.

Henry averaged 6.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game last season. He’ll be the fifth player joining the program this summer, with freshmen Karl Harris and Rokas Ulvydas being the players who are eligible to compete immediately for the Explorers.

La Salle, which finished last season with a 17-16 record, will need to account for the loss of three front court contributors led by Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack but they do return talent on the perimeter. Leading scorer Jordan Price (17.2 ppg) returns in 2015-16, as do fellow guards Amar Stukes, Cleon Robers and Khalid Lewis.