Rushed Reactions: #13 La Salle 76, #12 Ole Miss 74Posted by Brian Goodman on March 24th, 2013
Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from the third round of the South regional in Kansas City. You can also follow Brian on Twitter at @BSGoodman.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Who knew that a team nicknamed “the Explorers” would be pretty good at this travel thing? It’s been a week to remember for La Salle, and a busy one at that. After knocking off Boise State in Dayton, La Salle sojurned to Kansas City, where it knocked off Kansas State in front of a hostile crowd and now finds its next conquest waiting in Los Angeles. Moreover, Dr. John Giannini’s team won its last two games by a total of four points, both decided in the closing seconds. As a result, the well-traveled explorers are off to their third destination in a week, where they’ll play for a chance to make the Final Four.
- Poor free throw shooting, late-game decision-making doom Ole Miss. Whether you’re a perennial powerhouse, cinderella or anything in between, when your season ends it’s tough not to take a look back at the things your team could have done differently to save it. Ole Miss’ undoing was two-pronged: The Rebels shot a porous 47.6% (10-of-21) at the charity stripe, and after Tyrone Garland’s layup with 2.5 seconds left, Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy opted not to call a timeout, not only denying his team an opportunity to set up a last-second play, but more importantly, maiming his squad’s chances by failing to sub his top shooting threat into the game. To his credit, Kennedy wasn’t regretful after the game about the way he handled the closing seconds, and he might have a point; Maybe the Rebels still comes up short even if he takes some time to draw up a play for his team. However, in my opinion, Kennedy failed to put his team in the best possible position to win and wasted his team’s last opportunity to advance.
- Marshall Henderson’s college career ends on a sour note. How will you remember him? The polarizing gunner was in the spotlight all season long, right down to the final minute, when Henderson found himself in a scrum that resulted in a shot clock violation when a La Salle foul could have been called. On his way to the tunnel, the enigmatic guard gestured obscenely toward a group of fans. Henderson’s background, antics, and the gambit of reactions to those antics, are just a few reason why this college basketball season is so exciting, but whether you found him fascinating, annoying or just plain off-putting, there’s no argument that his roller coaster season ended below ground level.
Star Of The Game: Tyrone Garland (17 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals)- Ramon Galloway had the hot hand all night, finishing with a game-high 24 points and hitting six of his ten threes. He easily had the best game of anyone on the floor, but the accolade is called “Star of the Game,” not “Player With The Best Game.” Garland’s running layup over Ole Miss forward Reginald Buckner with 2.5 seconds left sealed the win and a trip to Los Angeles for the Explorers. The undersized guard followed a very good First Four game with an underwhelming 1-8 performance against Kansas State, but now has a moment he and his team will never forget.
Sights and Sounds: Slightly more than half of the 18,000-plus people who saw Kansas end North Carolina’s season stuck around for the nightcap. Those who didn’t opt to go home were treated to fast-paced fight for survival with a thrilling finish, of course interspersed with video board highlights of Florida Gulf Coast’s takedown of San Diego State.
Quotable: “No. We’re young. It’s like AAU all over again.” -La Salle guard/forward Ramon Galloway, when asked if La Salle’s never-ending travel schedule bothers the team.
What’s Next: After a brief return to campus, the Explorers make a trans-continental voyage to Los Angeles, where they will square off against Wichita State in the West regional semifinal. Who had that in their bracket?