Scouting Report: Central Connecticut State

La Salle returns to the scene of last year's quadruple overtime victory last year and take on the Blue Devils in what has become an annual event. Last year's incredible 107-106 victory is missing some big-time performers for this game such as Steven Smith for La Salle who had 41 points. However, many of the prime-time players from that game return.

Probable Starters:
1 Dannie Power 6"0 JR. G
35 Tristan Blackwood 6"0 JR. G
44 Javier Mojica 6"3 SR. G
5 Obie Nwadike 6"4 SR. F
22 Jemino Sobers 6"7 SR. F

Last year's game was filled with players making big-time plays and none bigger than Darnell Harris' clutch free-throws as time expired. While Harris returns for the Explorers, the Blue Devils have three guys return from that team and are their three leaders. One player the Explorers must contain is 6"4 PF Odie Nwadike. He grabbed 13 boards against the Explorers last year and despite being undersized for a power forward, he is strong as an ox and may be the strongest player the Explorers face this season. He shoots well from the field with a 50%+ field goal percentage and a decent free throw shooter to boot. This Blue Devil team is experienced. All five starters are junior and seniors. Their senior shooter is Javier Mojica. A 6"3 sniper who scored 15 against La Salle last year, he is averaging almost 18pts per contest this season while shooting 45% from three point distance and almost 80% from the stripe. 6"0 junior Tristan Blackwood is the other Devil who scores in double digits at just over 14pts a game. He is also a terrific free throw shooter at 85%. CCSU has a nice inside/outside combination in Nwadike and the perimeter threats Mojica and Blackwood. They can score the basketball. Their problem has been on the defensive end. Their opponents have shot 46% from the floor, 38% from three and 68% from the stripe. All are higher than they shoot themselves, which is not a good combination.

La Salle is coming off a disappointing loss to UMBC. If they continue to play the way they have over the past two weeks CCSU is going to be very difficult to dispose of. The possible ray of light for Explorer fans is the inspired frantic pace at which the team played the last 5 minutes of that game and the possibility of Coach Giannini electing to play more of that style against the Blue Devils. the Explorers have the athletes and the depth to play that style. With a lack of willing jump shooters and lack of low post defense, the Explorers need to find a way to get 15 points a night on easy baskets due to the struggles in half court offensive sets.

This should be a wide-open game. La Salle needs to play good perimeter defense and contain Nwadike from getting offensive rebounds. They have a size advantage and need to use their length and athleticism to create easy transition baskets. A better defensive effort and some easy baskets off of turnovers should net the Explorers a win. A similar effort shown against UMBC and the Hawkeye invitational will result in a loss with a more difficult schedule on the horizon. This game is very important to this season. Hopefully the week off has done the Explorers some good.

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