La Salle tops Boise State in First Four
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
DAYTON, Ohio – Much has been made about the perceived transfer epidemic in college basketball, a plague hurting the game caused by the greediness of the play-me-now culture.
But what about transfers that make sense? Transfers that work? Players who go from high-major programs to mid-major schools and take them to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years?
La Salle sees only positives in that. Led by Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland’s 22 points and South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway’s 21, the Explorers beat Boise State 80-71 Wednesday night. La Salle will play No. 4 seed Kansas State on Friday in Kansas City.
The duo’s impact was perfectly captured in one highlight reel-worthy play with just over five minutes to go in the first half. On a fast break, Garland threw up a beautiful lob for a picture-perfect Galloway alley-oop, the kind of play that feels like it’s happening in slow-motion even as it happens. The crowd went wild as the Explorers’ lead ballooned to 14 points, and the game was never really in doubt after that.
“When I first transferred, Coach (John Giannini) told me it could be like this, that we could do special things,” Garland said. “He was seeing it happening, and he’s a loyal guy. I believed in his words.”
Galloway, in his second and final season at La Salle, said he felt the same way when he made the decision to become an Explorer, feeling the same bond and trust with Giannini – the same experience as Garland described in every way except one.
“I never thought we’d been in the NCAA tournament, playing and making a statement for La Salle,” Galloway said. “It’s every college player’s dream to be in the NCAA tournament.”
If it’s a dream to make it, what about winning one?
Giannini said he was “ecstatic” after his first NCAA tournament victory. The players were so thrilled, Garland screamed into the camera during his postgame interview on national television. The small, but vocal Explorer fan section (which included La Salle legend Lionel “L-Train” Simmons, Giannini said) wouldn’t stop cheering after the final buzzer sounded.