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.
Sunday's thrilling win over then-No. 12 Virginia wasn't enough for Villanova to keep its top spot. The Wildcats tumbled to fourth in Monday's AP poll after splitting last week's games against Marquette and Virginia.
Gonzaga, Baylor and Kansas moved ahead of Villanova, in that order. Gonzaga (22-0) received 46 of 65 first-place votes, while Baylor received six, Kansas nine and Villanova four.
The Zags haven't played as tough of a schedule as the three teams behind them in the rankings, but seven of the top 10 teams last week lost, opening the door for them to claim the No. 1 spot.
Kansas, which was ranked second last week, lost by 16 at West Virginia but rebounded to win at Kentucky.
No. 2 Baylor and No. 3 Kansas square off on Wednesday in a huge Big 12 matchup.
'Nova beat Virginia, 61-59, Sunday on freshman Donte DiVincenzo's game-winning tip-in (see story), but it obviously wasn't viewed as an impressive enough win to cancel out the loss at Marquette.
The win improved Villanova to 20-2 and 5-1 against teams ranked in the Top 25. Despite the loss, Virginia moved up three spots to No. 9.
'Nova is 7-2 in the Big East, a half-game ahead of Butler. The Wildcats this week travel to play Providence (14-9, 4-6 Big East) on Wednesday before hosting St. John's (10-13, 4-6) on Saturday. They beat Providence by 10 and beat St. John's by 13 in the season's earlier meetings.
MILWAUKEE — Just what the Big East needed: another potent threat.
Marquette’s 74-72 win over No. 1-ranked Villanova on Tuesday qualifies as the best win in the tenure of third-year coach Steve Wojciechowski, but it was only the second major win in a four-day period. On Jan. 21, Marquette went to Omaha and knocked off No. 7 Creighton, 102-94.
The Creighton win required a qualifier: The Bluejays were reeling in the aftermath of losing guard Marcus Watson for the year and playing their first full game without him. Marquette shot a sizzling 60 percent, including 12 of 24 from three-point range.
The follow-up made it much harder to view as a fluke.
“The thing I was most proud of in the game was our toughness,” Wojciechowski said. “There were a number of breaking points throughout the games, where teams I’ve had here — maybe even this one — would not have kept fighting. Our guys kept fighting and at the end, they found a way to win.”
It’s been an impressive response after a brutal near-miss. The Golden Eagles held a 41-25 lead on Butler in the first half at Hinkle Fieldhouse, only to fall apart after halftime in an 88-80 loss. There are signs that this Golden Eagles team may be putting it together, integrating the services of transfers Katin Reinhardt and Andrew Rowsey and persevering through the ups and downs of freshman Markus Howard, who was ironically the team’s best weapon in a 93-81 loss to Villanova on Jan. 7 (21 points on 7 of 11 shooting) but nowhere to be found in the rematch won by Marquette (0 points, 7 minutes, 5 fouls).
“Coach always preached to us at the beginning that we’re a great team,” said Duane Wilson, who scored 11 points off the bench in the win over Villanova. “We have a lot of offensive weapons; we’re one of the best offensive teams. We just have to play defense. ... We’re starting to grow up.”
Marquette battled back from a 15-point halftime deficit against 'Nova, one still in place with less than 12 minutes to go.
“Marquette just played a better total 40 minutes,” said 'Nova guard Jalen Brunson. “We’ve just got to give them credit. They just played tougher. We tried to just keep moving forward, and they just kept making shot after shot.”
Marquette made 7 of 11 from three in the second half in the win, with Reinhardt drilling 4 of 7 and finishing with 19 points. The Golden Eagles were struggling in the rebound game most of the night and still finished ahead of the Wildcats in that department, 35-34.
“They got a lot of extra possessions down the floor (because of rebounds), and we played good defense,” Reinhardt said. “We kind of gave them those possessions. We knew the last 4 or 5 minutes of the game, we were going to get those done. We were going to grab everything we could like our life depended on it, and we did.”
Reinhardt, who appeared in 34 games last year at USC and joined the program as a graduate transfer this season, has found his footing in recent play.
“Katin’s a really good player,” Wojciechowski said. “He always has been, even though he hasn’t always played well this season. He had to find his role, and we were learning him, too. Even when he was struggling, I knew the kid could really play. I think you’re seeing that. It’s not just the last two games in Big East play. The kid’s been a big-time player. We’ve been able to use him in a lot of different scenarios. In this game, he played anywhere from the point guard to the power forward. When you have someone who can do that, it gives you an advantage.”
Said Reinhardt, “It’s a testament to my teammates and coaches me who just trusted me from Day 1 when I got here. Just knowing I had to stay in the gym and the breakthrough was going to happen for myself. I’m so blessed that I had the coaching staff and players behind me every single day. Keep shooting, keep playing basketball ...
“You dream of playing against the No. 1 team and beating them on your home floor and have these fans rush the floor. Being part of that is amazing. I can’t even put words to it.”
Marquette entered the week as a fringe NCAA Tournament team, even with the win over Creighton in its pocket. For now, the Golden Eagles are off the bubble, looking for their first tourney berth under Wojciechowski.
“He coached at Duke, played at Duke, and played against the No. 1 teams in the country,” Wilson said of his coach. “He always told us he wanted us to get that feeling, to beat that No. 1 team in the country.”