PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The La Salle University men's basketball team will look to continue its strong play on Thursday night as they travel to Kingston to run with the University of Rhode Island.
The Explorers are 8-5 on the season and they have won four of their last five. Last week they picked up wins in two home Atlantic 10 games, beating St. Louis on Wednesday (75-54) and Duquesne Saturday (88-81). Those back-to-back victories improved the Explorers to 2-1 in the Atlantic 10, but head coach Dr. John Giannini says they've really just started the journey.
"It's hard to get too pleased because you're three games in to an 18-game (conference) schedule," Giannini tells KYW Newsradio. "There's just so much left to do. But a necessity, if you're going to finish anywhere near the top of the standings, is winning at home. If you have any significant goals for your team, winning your home games is kind of like just holding serve and doing what you need to do and you're supposed to do and we did that last week. You have to do it, it doesn't mean it's easy, because it isn't, but you really have to do that. So fortunately we won a couple home games last week."
Listen to the entire interview with La Salle's Dr. John Giannini
Redshirt sophomore guard Pookie Powell was key in the two wins last week for the Explorers, averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds. For his efforts, Powell was named Big 5 Player of the Week.
"I've seen his confidence grow significantly, probably since the Villanova game," Giannini says. "He's a talented kid, he's a very conscientious kid, he wants to do well and help his team and not make mistakes. That's why his assist-to-turnover ratio I think is (fourth) best in the country right now (4.70). Usually when a guy has a stat like that, he's kind of a play-it-safe point guard, but Pookie's also a very good scorer and that's where I've really seen his confidence and aggressiveness grow."
Powell is third on the team in scoring this season, averaging 13.8 ppg.
The Explorers will visit a Rhode Island team on Thursday night that is 10-5 overall and 2-1 in the Atlantic 10. The Rams are also a perfect 8-0 at home.
"This is a great challenge for us," Giannini says. "They're big, they're strong, they're athletic, they're tough, they're veteran."
Rhode Island won both meetings with La Salle last season.
Thursday night's game will tip-off at 7:00pm.
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