PHILADELPHIA– For most of the game, La Salle head coach Ashley Howard went with an 11-man rotation.
This was definitely the game to do it, against a Division-II school in Lincoln (Who put up a good fight for what it’s worth). You want to see what you got early on in the year, especially in a COVID-season.
Now, one game against a Division-II school isn’t the end all be all when it comes to evaluating what you have on the roster and who and what lineups you might utilize when conference play rolls around which for La Salle this season, is their only ticket to the NCAA Tournament after dropping games to St. John’s, St. Peter’s and Army to start off the season, but it’s still useful.
But for Howard, the pure number of guys in the rotation doesn’t matter.
“If I can have 11 guys that are playing balls to the wall with great energy and they’re playing together and they’re playing like brothers and they’re enthusiastic and they’re playing hard for each other, then I’ll play 11 guys,” Howard said in his post-game Zoom call with the media. “If we don’t have guys that are bringing energy, then that will determine the depth of our rotation.”
In La Salle’s 80-62 victory over Lincoln, Sophomore Jack Clark led the way in scoring with 15 points and nine rebounds, which is impressive in it’s own right, but it was two freshmen that looked the part in Jhamir Brickus, and Anwar Gill.
While Brickus only scored four points, the former 2,000 point scorer at Coatesville Area Senior High School dished out a game-high eight assists.
“Obviously he was a big time scorer in High School so he has that confidence,” Howard said. “There was one summer where I think he led his AAU circuit in assists so he’s a guy that can score, knows how to run the team, that can get guys open shots, our guys are confident when he has the ball.”
For Gill, Tuesday’s game against Lincoln was his first significant action in college this season due to injury. He missed La Salle’s first two games against St. John’s and St. Peter’s up in Queens, and he played seven minutes in their game on Sunday against Army. On Tuesday, Gill played 25 minutes and finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
“I’m glad he was able to get out there and play some extended minutes,” Howard said. “He gives us additional versatility in the backcourt, he’s a good defender, he’s a winner and he’s a guy that we’re really excited about.”
Even freshman center Tegra Izay got his first minutes of the season on Tuesday, and he made the most out of them, scoring six points and grabbing five rebounds in 11 minutes.
“I’ve been wanting to get Tegra in the game in the first three, I just haven’t gotten comfortable,” Howard said. “Obviously we’ve been in three dog fights where I just wasn’t ready to throw him out, I trusted the older guys, I wanted to get him out there just so he could get a chance to get out there, get some run, get a rhythm and I wanted to see if what he does in practice translates.”
The win gives La Salle their first victory of the year after losing three tough games to start out the year. Up next for La Salle is a game against city-rival Drexel on the road on Saturday at 2:00. The game can be seen on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Obviously, in a game against a Division-II school, you’re not going to hold much weight into the rotations and the lineups put out there, but it will be interesting to see how Howard distributes the minutes going forward and the lineups he creates as we move into A-10 play.
“Early in the year, it’s a challenge to find minutes for everybody,” Howard said. “We have older guys that I’ve been through some wars with that I trust, we got young guys that are going to push them to earn minutes and I think that’s going to be the strength of our team,”
“We have a lot of room for improvement, a lot of room for growth and the fact that we have depth is a huge asset to our program.” Howard added.