City 6 Weekly Awards: La Salle earns rare share of Big 5 title

City 6 Weekly Awards: La Salle earns rare share of Big 5 title

February 18, 2013, 12:30 pm
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City 6 Scoring Leaders (PPG)

(Through Feb. 17; minimum 14 games)

19.8 – Khalif Wyatt, Sr. Temple

17.3 – Ramon Galloway, Sr., La Salle

16.8 – Damion Lee, Soph., Drexel

14.6 – Carl Jones, Sr., St. Joe’s

14.5 – Tyreek Duren, Jr., La Salle

14.0 – Frantz Massenat, Jr., Drexel

13.7 – Miles Cartwright, Jr., Penn

13.3 – Langston Galloway, Jr., St. Joe’s

12.6 – JayVaughn Pinkston, Soph., Villanova

12.0 – Tyrone Garland, Jr., La Salle

After NIT berths in 2011-12 and almost everybody returning from those squads, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Drexel all seemed destined for big things in 2012-13.

But for reasons that are hard to fathom, St. Joe’s and Drexel have sputtered through highly disappointing seasons, with both possibly in danger of missing the postseason entirely.

That hasn’t been the case for La Salle, which is playing the best team basketball in the city and is on a collision course with the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1992.

This past week was one of the biggest ones of the year for the Explorers, who padded their NCAA resume with an important road win against St. Bonaventure on Wednesday before beating St. Joe’s on Saturday to earn at least a share of their first Big 5 title since 1989-90.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, that there’s a heavy dose of La Salle in this week’s City 6 awards and power rankings. Let’s take a look:

Player of the week
Khalif Wyatt had another huge scoring week, pouring in 59 points over the course of two games for Temple, and could have easily snagged his third straight player of the week award.

But we’re going with La Salle’s Ramon Galloway, who filled out the stat sheet as few players have this season.

In the Explorers’ 69-66 overtime win over St. Bonnies, the Explorers senior added six rebounds, five assists and two steals to his game-high 23 points.

And against the Hawks, he finished with a career-high 12 assists and 16 points while shooting a very efficient 5-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range.

Game of the week
There were closer games and a couple of impressive road wins in New England (more on that below), but how can we not go with a sold-out Big 5 game at the Palestra?

La Salle junior guard Tyreek Duren, who seems to always play well at the Cathedral of College Basketball, matched a career-high with 29 points to lead the way for the Explorers in a huge 76-64 win over a talented Hawks team.

The victory was punctuated with a one-handed alleyoop slam from Garland to Galloway that sent the La Salle side of the Palestra into a frenzy and seemed to, at least momentarily, erase years of frustration and missed opportunities.

Play of the week
In the second half of Saturday’s game against Connecticut, Villanova freshman Ryan Arcidiacono received a pass at halfcourt and immediately lobbed the ball toward the basket.

The long pass went just over the arms of a leaping UConn defender and into the hands of James Bell, who finished off a sensational alleyoop.

That play came during a 14-2 Villanova spurt that erased a 43-36 UConn lead and sent the Wildcats to a convincing 70-61 road victory.

Quote of the week
“We want to be in the record books. We want to be a great team. We don’t want to settle for good.”
 - Ramon Galloway after La Salle’s win over St. Joe’s

Stat of the week
After losing to Duquesne, 84-83, on Thursday and beating UMass, 83-82, on Saturday, Temple has played in five consecutive one-point games. That’s the longest stretch for any Division-I team since at least the start of the 1996-97 season.

Games to watch this week
We get an early start to the week with two City 6 home games tonight, as Drexel hosts Hofstra and Villanova welcomes Rutgers.

The big game of the week comes Thursday as La Salle makes the short trip to Temple, where it looks to earn an outright Big 5 title as well as up its winning streak to five games.

In other games to watch, Drexel plays at rival Delaware on Thursday, Villanova hosts nationally ranked Marquette on Saturday, and Temple has a road game against a Charlotte squad that it beat by -- surprise – one point earlier this month.

Power rankings

1. La Salle (18-6): If La Salle can beat Temple and then follow that up with another road win at Rhode Island on Saturday, the Explorers will have 20 wins before the calendar even flips to March. With two winnable home games coming up next week, La Salle can even afford to lose one of its two games this week and remain in strong contention to land an NCAA tournament at-large berth. But with Big 5 perfection now in their sights, that’s not something that will even cross the Explorers' minds.

2. Villanova (16-10): After a road loss to Cincinnati followed by a road win over UConn, the Wildcats remain right in the middle of the pack of the Big East, which is typically good enough to at least put you on the NCAA bubble. Returning home to the friendly confines of the Pavilion couldn’t come at a better time for the Wildcats, who have a chance to put themselves right back into the field of 68 with wins over Rutgers and Marquette.

3. Temple (17-8): Beating a very good UMass team on the road on Saturday was huge for the Owls. Unfortunately, it followed a horrible home loss against a Duquesne team that came into Wednesday’s matchup at the Liacouras Center on an 11-game losing streak and without an Atlantic 10 victory. That loss, in addition to home losses against St. Bonaventure and Canisius, aren’t going to look very good on Selection Sunday.

4. Saint Joseph’s (14-10): Despite beating Richmond at home Wednesday, the Hawks go into the week losers of three of their last four. Their only game of the week is against George Washington on Saturday at Hagan Arena, and at this point they just need to win games to boost their NIT credentials and earn a favorable seed for the Atlantic 10 tournament.

5. Drexel (10-15): A loss to George Mason on Thursday dropped the Dragons below the .500 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association at 6-7. The preseason favorite to win the CAA, Drexel is now in seventh place in the league with games against Hofstra, Delaware and Towson coming up this week.

6. Penn (6-18): Just when it looked like things would get even worse for the reeling Quakers, they erased a 13-point second-half deficit and scored 49 points in the second half to upend Dartmouth on Saturday. The night before that, they were routed at Harvard, the favorite to win the Ivy League. With a 3-4 mark in the Ivies, Penn goes on its second straight road trip weekend, facing Cornell on Friday and Columbia on Saturday.