The world got a chance to see just how much fun La Salle is when their back court gets going.
Ramon Galloway and Tyrone Garland combined for 43 points and seven assists on 17-24 shooting from the field, leading the Explorers to an 80-71 win over Boise State in the final play-in game on Wednesday night.
(*One quick sidenote before I get going: This was still supposed to be a development year for the Broncos. They weren’t supposed to be relevant until next season. They have a lot of young talent on that roster, and everyone is going to be back next season. Mountain West, beware.)
As a team, La Salle shot 63.3% from the field and 11-21 from three. Boise State simply had no chance of keeping La Salle’s back court from penetrating, and when they weren’t getting to the rim and finishing with layups, the Explorers were driving, drawing and kicking for open threes.
Not only was it an impressive performance, but it was a lot of fun to watch.
That said, La Salle will advance to the opening round of the tournament on Friday where they will take on No. 4 Kansas State. The Wildcats are better than Boise State. I think that much we can all agree on. Bruce Weber’s club isn’t exactly Louisville defensively, but they have some size and some good perimeter defenders and, perhaps most importantly, a shot-blocker to park in front of the rim. KSU also has a couple big bodies that can score on the block, something that can be exploited against the extremely guard-oriented Explorers.
But what makes Kansas State good this year is their back court. Rodney McGruder is a silent assassin, consistently one of the nation’s most underrated players. Angel Rodriguez is as improved as any point guard in the country. Will Spradling is a terrific complement to both, capable of playing off the ball or on the ball, knocking down threes and creating off the bounce.
This was La Salle’s first win in the tournament since 1990, which Lionel Simmons and Doug Overton were still hooping in the 215.
If they want to get a win as a member of the Field of 64, they’re going to need another performance like tonight from their back court.