The La Salle Explorers will be playing their biggest rival, the Saint Joseph Hawks twice in the 2013-2014 season. This news was released with the list of opponents for all teams in the Atlantic 10.
This will be a big change for the Explorers who are used to only playing the Hawks once a year in a very traditional fashion. The two opposing teams always battle off in the famous Palestra located on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. The game is one of four that counts towards the Philadelphia Big 5 title, a contest that has been around for 59 years.
The historic factor of the game has caused Coach Dr. John Giannini to have mixed emotions about this change. “First, I love the single game. It is always packed. Fans from both schools look forward to it.”
The location of these two games for the 2013-2014 season has yet to be determined. According to Giannini, only time will tell if having two games will have the same buzz as the annual matchup.
The Explorers have been playing the Hawks since 1901 according to La Salle’s media guide. Currently the record stands with Saint Joe’s having won 63 games, and La Salle winning a respectable 53. The teams have been playing each other in the Palestra since 1955, alongside the establishment of the Big 5. The Hawks captured the very first Big 5 title and beat La Salle 97-85 in the first overtime game of this city competition.
Coach Giannini hopes the games can remain in the Palestra. “A big crowd, a 50-50 split and Big 5 tradition are things I don’t want to lose.”
This past season the Explorers defeated the Hawks 76-64 in front of a sold out crowd. This win allowed them to share the Big 5 title with Temple.
Besides Saint Joe’s, La Salle will be playing Duqesne, George Washington, and St. Bonaventure twice. Other opponents include, Saint Louis, Rhode Island, VCU, Dayton, Fordham, Richmond and Massachusetts. The Explorers will also host newcomer to the A-10, George Mason, at home this season.
One team not found on this list is another city rival, Temple. The Owls’ move to the Big East ended this regular season matchup. But the teams most likely will meet again to compete for the Big 5.
When it comes between the Owls or the Hawks, Giannini claims they enjoy playing both teams equally and couldn’t pick a preferred opponent. In the 2012-2013 season Temple outmatched La Salle 74-82.
Playing the Hawks twice does have some benefits. “Saint Joe’s is a high quality opponent which helps both teams RPI and post season credentials,” said Giannini.
The full 2013-2014 schedule for the Explorers has yet to be finalized.