Next Up: The Mount

Coming off an agonizing 76-69 loss to the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, head coach John Giannini and the Explorers hit the road and travel to play the Mountaineers of Mount St. Mary's in what has now become a critical game in a season just one game in.

There is no doubt this game has gone from a blip on the schedule to a red-flashing neon sign. Coming off a disturbing lack-luster performance in the team's opener Tuesday night, La Salle needs to straighten the ship fast. While the Mountaineers are not as strong and experienced as the Retrievers are, another La Salle performance like Tuesday on their home floor could make the Mountaineers tough competition for the Explorers.

Last season, La Salle defeated the Mount on opening day 65-60 with Rodney Green and Yves Mekongo-Mbala each getting 11 points in that contest. The Mountaineers are 0-1 losing to fellow A-10 member George Washington 77-62 last week. 6"4 swingman Will Holland led all scorers with 25 points and got help from senior point guard Chris Vann's 21 points. Although Knott arena is small, it can get loud and given their performance Tuesday night, it is imperative for the Explorers to start off fast. It has become painfully obvious that La Salle does not play well from behind due to a lack of shooting firepower.

Rodney Green led La Salle with 19 points against UMBC and even showed an improving outside shot knocking down 2 three-point attempts. Coach John Giannini needs a better shooting performance from senior Darnell Harris who shot just 5 for 15 after starting off 2 for 3 from three point range. All four La Salle freshmen saw action getting 19 points collectively.

La Salle should have considerable success on the boards against the smaller Mountaineers. They were hammered by GW in that area giving up second chance opportunities against the longer and quicker Colonials. La Salle is bigger at almost every position. Look for 5th year head coach Milan Brown to slow the game down and try to force La Salle into half-court offensive sets. With starting point guard Ruben Guillandeaux out with a continuing wrist injury the Mountaineers can pressure the basketball with pesky defenders like Vann and freshman Jean Cojou.

There should be no excuse for Giannini and his squad to play flat given the circumstances. In fact this team should play with reckless abandon. A frantic pace would benefit the Explorers tremendously in this game. The question is whether the performance on Tuesday night forces them to play tight. We will have to wait until tip-off to find out. Which La Salle team shows up will ultimately determine who wins this game.