Temple's back court drives this team; but specifically, the play of Ramone Moore has been outstanding. The back-to-back Philahoops player of the week, Moore scored 30 points against Xavier. In the two Owl victories last week Moore shot an incredible 50% (15-30) from the field and 80% from the line (17/21).
Moore appears to be the favorite for Big 5 player of the year, and is certainly making his case for the same honor in the Atlantic 10. Meanwhile Xavier continues their inconsistent play after their brawl with crosstown rival Cincinnati. A team many expected as an Elite 8, if not final four, team now finds themselves in a log jam in the middle of the A-10 fighting for a first round bye to Atlantic City.
How about those Dragons?
I admit I was not a believer of Drexel coming into this season. However, it's hard not to be impressed by what the dragons have done recently. Their last loss came at Georgia State (who is 17-9) on January 2nd. The Dragons find themselves in a three way tie for first place in the Colonial and could separate themselves from the pack with their relatively easy remaining colonial opponents (William and Mary, JMU, and Old Dominion).
Drexel needs to win the CAA Conference Tournament because their status as an at-large is very uncertain. Their non-conference wins are unimpressive (and that's being kind). Perhaps their biggest win was a home game against Princeton. They lost crucial games to St. Joe's and a very good Virginia team by sizable margins. The Dragons could help their at-large resume with an ESPN BracketBuster's game at Cleveland State next Saturday morning. A win against the Vikings is an absolute must if Drexel is make the tournament, should they lose in the CAA.
Two of Drexel's remaining game are at home, where they receive an incredible boost from their raucous student section, the DAC Pack. If they can continue their winning ways inside the Colonial and receive a top seed in the conference tournament the road to the NCAA will be much easier for the Dragons.
Ten days ago the Explorers were sitting pretty. They found themselves holding first place in the Atlantic 10 and a 17-6 record. Since then they have lost three straight, including their first loss at the Tom Gola Arena. La Salle now sits 2.5 games behind Temple in the crowded middle of the Atlantic 10 conference, with crucial games coming up at UMass and home against Temple (also a Big 5 contest).
La Salle's struggles can be traced to two areas. Transfer from South Carolina Ramon Galloway has been the spark to this team, but recently he has struggled. Against St. Louis he scored only 5 points while committing 7 turnovers. Galloway has been forcing the issue, and simply needs to let the game come to him. When Galloway rights the ship (which I expect after a week full of practice) the Explorers will again be a contender in the conference.
The other issue is their struggle in close games. In games decided by 7 or less points, La Salle is 2-8 (and also they lost to St. Louis by 8 points). That goes to coaching. Dr. John Giannini needs to improve his in game coaching, especially in late game scenarios. On Saturday against St. Louis Giannini was thoroughly out-coached by Rick Majerus and his staff. It was clear that Majerus knew La Salle's set as Giannini called them out, certainly a major contributing factor to the 20 turnovers committed by the Explorers.
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Email him at McCabe@whizwitsports.com