The proud basketball tradition had faded to a deep charcoal the past couple decades. Not exactly black because it hadn’t completely died, and remnants of a glorious past still remained around its North Philadelphia campus, but for far too long, when the words La Salle University and hoops were uttered in the same sentence, students and alums of the school weren’t exactly beaming and shouting out, “Yeah, that’s us. We’re the Explorers. Bring it on.”
Now, after a week unlike any other in the program’s history over the last 60-plus years, they just might.
In beating Atlantic Ten rivals Butler and Virginia Commonwealth last week, the Explorers knocked off ranked opponents in back-to-back games for the first time since 1952. In the interim, they won an NIT title (1952), an NCAA title (1954), finished runner-up in the NCAA tournament (1955), and have had four of the truly legendary college players of all time don their gold and blue: Tom Gola, Michael Brooks, Lionel Simmons and Kenny Durrett.