Explorers face battering Rams

Coach John Giannini's team opens the A-10 season with a trip to Rhode Island. The Rams should provide the Explorers with a tough battle as both teams look to find some consistency after rocky out of conference performances. The Explorers will play three of their first four conference games on the road.

Rhode Island Probable Starters: (7-7)

14 Parfait Bitee 6"2 JR. G
20 Jimmy Baron 6"2 SO. G
34 Darrell Harris 6"11 SR. C
33 Kahiem Seawright 6"8 SO. F
25 Will Daniels 6"8 JR. F

La Salle is coming off a less than stellar performance in their own tournament last week losing all three games and travel to Rhode Island to take on a Rams team feeling pretty good after a good performance in an 80-69 loss at Kansas. In that game leading scorer Will Daniels led the Rams with 21 points as three players reached double figures. In his 6th season as head coach, Jim Baron has a relatively young team with only one senior on the roster. Daniels leads the way scoring almost 17 points per game. Other double digit scorers include sophmore Kahiem Seawright who also pulls down over 8 rebounds a game, and the head coach's son, Jim Baron Jr. Baron is one of the conferences top snipers shooting over 50% from three-point range and a blistering 93% from the stripe. In fact, both Daniels and Baron shoot over 50% from distance and shoot almost half of the Rams total attempts. Both need to be guarded closely. The Rams are the top three pointing team in the conference and attempt almost 20 per night.

Junior college transfer Joe Mbang and freshman Keith Cothran are the two most reliable players off their bench. Cothran, also recruited by La Salle, just became eligible 5 games ago and played very well in the Rams loss to Kansas. While the Rams can score the ball and rebound their Achilles heel is their defense. Baron's clubs of the past usually played good defense, especially at URI, but this team struggles to stop opponents. 9 of their 14 opponents have scored at least 80 points. They are last in scoring defense and next to last in defensive field goal percentage allowing teams to shoot 47% from the floor. They also turn the ball over often.

The key for La Salle is to guard the perimeter and rebound the basketball. They should be able to get their opportunities offensively. If they can contain Daniels and Baron the Rams do not get a whole lot of contributions from their bench outside Cothran and Mbang. Expect La Salle to get to the line quite a bit. However, they must convert more than 62% of their attempts like they did in their own tournament. This is an important game for the Explorers. A loss sends them into a losing record for the first time since the 2004-2005 season and with such a young squad one has to worry about confidence with Massachusetts, and improving Duquesne, and very good Dayton team still to follow.

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