2013 NCAA Tournament: No.9 Wichita State Closes The Book On No.13 La Salle

By Mike Gillmeister

Hold your heads up.

That’s the message the No.13 La Salle Explorers need to hear after a 72-58 loss on Thursday night to the No.9 Wichita State Shockers in the Sweet Sixteen round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

Before this season, the Explorers hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1992 and hadn’t won a game since 1990. The team that hadn’t been Dancing in over 20 years got to the Sweet Sixteen despite not even having its starting center. Oh, yeah, they needed to win a play-in game to even be in the field.

Thanks to last-minute efforts from Tyrone Garland and Jerrell Wright, La Salle knocked off the No.4 Kansas State Wildcats and landsharked Marshall Henderson‘s No.12 Ole Miss Rebels.

In a loaded Atlantic 10 Conference field this season, La Salle was often overshadowed by teams like the Butler Bulldogs, VCU Rams and even the Temple Owls. I could make some short-sighted comment about how college basketball analysts nationwide had it wrong all season but the reality is, the A-10 was wide open this season, with the top five teams separated by just a pair of games.

With four of the Explorers’ starting five returning next season — including a healthy 6-foot-11 Steve Zack — La Salle has a chance to build off the success senior Ramon Galloway helped the Explorers achieve this season.

The A-10 is undergoing a major overhaul come next season, just the right time for an experienced team to take its rightful place in the spotlight.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@gmail.com, or on Twitter:@mgillmeiRantCBB. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-10 men’s basketball.

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