Less than two weeks ago, we were sitting around watching conference championship games and rooting for other teams to lose so that La Salle might make it to the First Four.
Now Dr. John Giannini, Ramon Galloway and the rest of the Explorers are hanging in Los Angeles and shaking hands with Reggie Miller. The only reason they're not getting even more attention is because the world found out that something called Florida Gulf Coast exists.
Tip off between the 13th-seeded La Salle Explorers and 9th-seeded Wichita State Shockers for the opportunity to advance to the Elite Eight is scheduled for 10:17 this evening and can be seen on TBS.
The Explorers have not gotten this far in the NCAA tournament since losing to Bill Russell's San Francisco in 1955. That was 58 years ago. Of the five Atlantic 10 teams that made the tournament 4 Saint Louis, 5 VCU, 6 Butler, 9 Temple La Salle received the lowest seed by four spots and is the only one left standing.
As for what they'll meet in Wichita State, the Shockers are the first team La Salle has played in this tournament that isn't four-guard (Boise State, Kansas State) or generally undersized anyway (Ole Miss). In fact, Wichita State grabs the 27th-most rebounds of the 347 teams who play Division I basketball, with 38.4 per game. La Salle, on the hand, is 292nd in that category. In a surprise turn of events, La Salle backup center Steve Zack was cleared to play yesterday, although what exactly he'll be able to contribute is unknowable.
Regardless, nothing has really changed for La Salle. The key to tonight's game is the same key for every game involving a four-guard team make shots. The more shots the Explorers make, the fewer rebounds will be available for them not to grab. If it seems simple, that's because it is. Small teams can't afford to be inefficient.
Whichever way this goes, it's like we mentioned up top, La Salle went from sweating out the selection show to flying from Dayton to Kansas City to Los Angeles without ever coming back to campus, and at some point in between, SouthwestPhillyFloater was trending worldwide.
Photos from Wednesday's practice at Staples: