La Salle Explorers

La Salle's non-conference schedule highlighted by Northern Ireland trip

La Salle's non-conference schedule highlighted by Northern Ireland trip

As a Big 5 school, La Salle men's basketball has some constants year to year in its non-conference schedule. But in 2017, the Explorers will do something no other college basketball team has done before.

La Salle's 2017-18 non-conference slate, announced on Thursday, is highlighted by a trip to Northern Ireland for the inaugural Belfast Classic, the first sanctioned college basketball tournament ever played on the Emerald Isle. The Explorers will face Towson on Dec. 1 in the opening game, with a chance to take on either Manhattan or Holy Cross the next day.

Three of La Salle's non-conference opponents ranked in the RPI top 50 last season: Villanova (3), Miami (44) and Northwestern (48).

"We want to challenge ourselves, better ourselves, and gain quality wins to enhance postseason possibilities," Giannini said in a press release.

La Salle returns four starters, including leading scorer B.J. Johnson. The Syracuse transfer and Lower Merion product averaged 17.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his first season in blue and gold.

The season begins with a Nov. 11 on-campus game against St. Peter's as part of the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament. Two days later comes a Big 5 bout with Penn, followed by another Naismith game against South Alabama on Nov. 16. The Explorers then travel to Connecticut for the tournament portion of the event, where they'll play Northwestern, which made it to the NCAA Tournamnet for the first time last season, and then either Texas Tech or Boston College. 

Miami, featuring Neumann-Goretti High School product Ja'Quan Newton, will come north to face La Salle at a neutral site in Reading, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 22. Temple comes to Tom Gola Arena Nov. 26, then it's off to Belfast.

The final stretch before Atlantic 10 play begins with a Dec. 7 home game against Drexel. Villanova, with its on-campus arena under construction, will then host La Salle on Dec. 10 at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. After hosting Mercer a week later, head coach John Giannini and the Explorers will travel to Bucknell to close out non-conference play against a team that won the Patriot League last year and is returning all five starters.

La Salle releases full 2017-18 schedule

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USA Today Images

La Salle releases full 2017-18 schedule

La Salle's full 2017-18 schedule is out and the Explorers are ready to travel.

The Atlantic 10 slate features tough road games at Rhode Island, Richmond and Davidson, while John Giannini's club will play a tip-off tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut, a December tournament in Northern Ireland and a home game in Reading, Pennsylvania.

The good thing: La Salle doesn't have to visit VCU or Dayton, two of the more difficult road stops in the conference.

The Explorers will also play all five of their City 6 foes.

La Salle, which finished 15-15 (9-9 A-10) last season, will be led by 6-foot-7 senior wing B.J. Johnson, a Syracuse transfer who averaged 17.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in his first year with the Explorers.

Here's a look at La Salle's full schedule, which was released Wednesday:

Nov. 11: Saint Peter's

Nov. 13: at Penn

Nov. 16: vs. South Alabama

Nov. 18: vs. Northwestern*

Nov. 19: vs. Texas Tech/Boston College*

Nov. 22: vs. Miami**

Nov. 26: Temple

Dec. 1: vs. Towson***

Dec. 2: vs. Manhattan/Holy Cross***

Dec. 7: Drexel

Dec. 10: at Villanova (Wells Fargo Center)

Dec. 17: Mercer

Dec. 22: at Bucknell

Dec. 30: Saint Louis

Jan. 3: at Rhode Island

Jan. 6: vs. VCU

Jan. 10: at UMass

Jan. 13: at Duquesne

Jan. 17: Fordham

Jan. 20: at Richmond

Jan. 24: UMass

Jan. 31: at Davidson

Feb. 3: Saint Joseph's

Feb. 7: at George Washington

Feb. 10: at Saint Louis

Feb. 13: St. Bonaventure

Feb. 17: George Mason

Feb. 20: Rhode Island

Feb. 24: at Fordham

Feb. 28: Dayton

March 3: at Saint Joseph's

Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament*

Home game in Reading, Pennsylvania**

Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic***

La Salle adds Marquette transfer, Philly native Traci Carter

La Salle adds Marquette transfer, Philly native Traci Carter

The one that got away is coming home.

La Salle men's basketball has added guard Traci Carter to its roster, the team announced Tuesday. Carter, a Philadelphia native who attended Roman Catholic High School for two years, is a transfer from Marquette. He'll sit out this season and have two years of eligibility remaining.

"I have watched and recruited Traci since his sophomore year in high school," La Salle head coach John Giannini said in a press release. "He brings leadership and toughness that is necessary to succeed in today's college basketball world, where so many teams are highly invested and have good players."

Carter averaged 23.9 minutes per game and started 19 games as a freshman, but saw his playing time dip to 16.3 minutes during his second season in Milwaukee. The 6-foot guard averaged 4.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists as a sophomore. 

Prior to committing to Marquette, Carter finished his high school career at Life Center Academy in Burlington, New Jersey. He won 40 games in two seasons there. A senior year in which he averaged 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals earned him a nomination for the McDonald's All-America Game and an offer to join Steve Wojciechowski's Golden Eagles.

La Salle's leading scorer last season was B.J. Johnson, another Philadelphia native with Catholic League experience who left town for a big-time program in Syracuse — only to transfer back home after two seasons.

The Explorers' season tips off Nov. 11 against St. Peter's.