March 12, 2015
There’s no doubt that sophomore guard Jordan Price is La Salle’s go-to scorer. He‘s ninth in the country with a 32.2 usage rate, which means that almost a third of the Explorers’ possessions end in a Price shot attempt, free-throw attempt, or turnover.
In La Salle’s 76-69 victory over UMass in the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the physical evidence behind that statistic was on display. Given the ultimate green light, Price launches 3-pointers (2-7 from deep) with no hesitation coming off screens. Price shoots shoot finger rolls, floaters, and whatever else is in his bag of tricks. Price uses his sturdy 6’5”, 220-pound frame to bull his way to the basket (14-18 on free throws). The Auburn transfer finished with 28 points.
Yet after the game, his coach told Philly.com’s Andrew Albert that he was impressed with the other aspects of his star’s performance:
“Also, I just noticed Jordan being our second-leading defensive rebounder ... with six defensive rebounds and zero turnovers,” Dr. John Giannini said. “When you're a guard and scoring and you don't turn it over and you get rebounds, there's a lot of credit for helping us win this game. Forget about the points --just the rebounds and the passing alone are a big deal.”
Even though Price’s scoring was ultimately what won the game, the good doctor isn’t necessarily wrong, as his star finished with the aforementioned six boards and zero turnovers. For somebody who handles the ball so much, that type of ball security was key in what turned out to be an exciting back-and-forth affair.
Price could probably stand to make a few individual defensive improvements, but he and this specific La Salle team are a perfect match in that regard. The entire group, specifically the senior big man duo of Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright, works together to form the 23rd best defense in the entire country on a per-possession basis. In return, Price takes on most of the responsibility on the other end of the floor.
La Salle advanced because of a few areas they primarily struggled with during the regular season, behind the arc at the free-throw line. They shot 7-18 from 3-point range, and received an extremely timely long ball from junior guard Khalid Lewis with 1:40 left in the game and the Explorers nursing a one-point lead. Led by Price and junior guard Cleon Roberts, La Salle was able to salt the game away at the charity stripe in the final minute. They shot 25-33 from the line for the game.
The Explorers will face top-seeded Davidson at noon tomorrow in a quarterfinal, a high-powered offensive team they only lost to by eight points a few weeks ago. Bob McKillop’s team will be a tall order, but Dr. G, Price, and La Salle definitely have more than a puncher’s chance to pull the upset. In this year’s Atlantic 10, anybody can be beat by anybody.