Sometimes you just have to get away to find yourself.
And that's what coach John Giannini and his La Salle team are hoping happens during a three-game trip to Puerto Rico.
It started off on the right foot, as the Explorers pasted Puerto Rico-Mayaguez yesterday, 117-86, in a first-round game of the San Juan Shootout at Mario Morales Coliseum in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
"It's so nice for us to come to a beautiful place, to spend some quality time together and play some quality basketball," Giannini said after his team evened its record at 4-4.
Six La Salle players scored in double figures as the team scored the most points in a game since 1992. Freshmen Jerrell Williams (22 points, 11 rebounds), Kyle Griffin (16 points) and Terrell Williams (12 points) each posted career-scoring highs for the Explorers, who hit 42 of 80 from the floor.
"It was good for our young players to have such good games," Giannini said. "Jerrell and Kyle played great games. And so did Terrell [who added four assists]. For them to be able to get some quality minutes, in an unfamiliar environment, is only going to help them down the road."
La Salle bolted to an 11-1 lead against the Tarzannes (1-9), but was unable to put the hosts away in the early going. Mayaguez cut the lead to 59-52 with 18 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the second half before the Explorers pulled away for good.
Rodney Green totaled 14 points and nine rebounds, while Kimmani Barrett scored 11 points and Darnell Harris had 10.
La Salle held a 48-35 advantage on the boards and forced 21 turnovers.
"Obviously, they weren't the quality of a Division I opponent," Giannini said. "But I was happy with the way we played. It's a good experience for our young players to be able to play in an environment like this. The whole experience of coming down here to play is nothing but a positive for our players. We have a couple of really tough games coming up against quality opponents [tomorrow against Mississippi and Saturday against DePaul]. It will certainly be a very good test for our players.
"We're such a young team that any time we can give our players an experience like this, it's only going to help us down the road. We're looking forward to the next few days down here." *