IN AN EFFORT to familiarize his team with the history of the Palestra and the city in which sophomore guard Ja'Quan Newton made headlines, Miami coach Jim Larranaga had one of his graduate assistant coaches put together a video for the 13th-ranked Hurricanes to watch before coming to Philadelphia to take on La Salle.
"A lot of our players had heard of Madison Square Garden, but they never really heard of the Palestra," said Larranaga, who played at the Palestra with his alma mater, Providence College, in 1969.
The video showed the history of the Big 5 and Philadelphia hoops as it pertained to the Palestra. It was brief, only a few minutes, but it ended with a bang.
Kobe Bryant's dunk at the Palestra was followed with Newton's one-handed slam in the 2014 Catholic League semifinals over an Archbishop Carroll defender as his Neumann-Goretti Saints marched to their sixth straight league title.
His new teammates loved it. And while there's no telling what effect the video had on the team, their 95-49 victory over La Salle in front of an almost pro-Miami crowd was a memory in itself.
It was the worst defeat in La Salle history, a program which started in 1931. The previous worst was 94-52 against the City College of New York in December 1945.
Newton was at the center of the Miami huddle after the pregame introductions, his usual spot before games, getting his teammates ready to hit the floor.
His performance Tuesday night wasn't quite like his previous games in University City. A sophomore at Miami, he doesn't even start.
But once he checked into the game as Miami's sixth man, the Catholic League's all-time leading scorer and 2014 graduate of Neumann-Goretti was back to his old tricks. His skill set fits in quite smoothly with Miami's offense, which shot 53.1 percent from the floor.
Newton, a Southwest Philadelphia native, entered the game after the first media timeout and helped kick-start a 19-6 run to put the Hurricanes up 30-15 with six minutes to play in the opening half. Newton, who said he "couldn't count" how many people came to see him play, scored eight points in the first half on 4-for-6 shooting from the floor.
His points came in typical Newton fashion, using his deceptive ballhandling and craftiness to score points at the rim, finishing with contact when he had to.
"I have a lot of memories here," said Newton, who will spend Christmas in Philadelphia before heading back to Miami on Saturday. "When I walked in here for shootaround and practice, I just looked around and said, 'I remember playing in this building.' "
La Salle, using a starting lineup of Johnnie Shuler, Amar Stukes, Jordan Price, Cleon Roberts and Tony Washington for the first time, never got going on offense. The Explorers shot only 29.8 percent for the game and were never in it after that 19-6 run.
Miami (10-1) opened the second half on a 27-9 run after taking a 40-22 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Hurricanes got five players in double figures, with Ivan Cruz Uceda's 20 points good for a game-high.
"We did everything we hoped to do, and we did it at a very high level for 40 minutes," Larranaga said.
La Salle (4-5), which lost its fourth straight game, got outrebounded, 50-21.
"This is a team that I thought was better than it is," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "And that's a billion percent my fault. I chose everything you see out there. I can live with these kids, because they're great kids and they're going to play hard. I'm going to have a real hard time living with myself the next three months. Injuries didn't do this. Rebuilding didn't do this. I did this."
After averaging four points in 13.5 minutes of action under Larranaga last season, Newton entered Tuesday averaging 11.9 points per game while averaging more than 21 minutes on the court.
"He's playing an all-around game, giving the ball up, finding the open man, making a lot of good passes in transition," Larranaga said. "He gets to the foul line more than anybody on our team."
Just as Larranaga sent his subs to the scorer's table with a little more than two minutes to play, Newton, who had three assists, scored his only second-half points to finish with 10 on the night.
Another tough, physical finish in traffic. Then some of the hometown crowd let him hear it when he exited the court.
Just like old times.