The History of La Salle University
Record Books - La Salle Greats - Big 5 - Flashback '52 & '54

by Explorer Steve

Saint La Salle


Founded by the Christian Brothers in 1863, La Salle University was named after Saint John Baptist de La Salle.  Saint La Salle (1651-1719) was an educator and founder of the Christian Brothers.  The
university maintains high standards of value-based education and community service in the 300 year old tradition of Saint La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. He instituted the process of dividing students into grades. John also established the first teacher's school. He then started high schools and trade schools. Proclaimed the patron of all teachers of all youth by Pope Pius XII in 1950. His feast day is celebrated April 7th.  

La Salle University's nickname - The Explorers - was erroneously bestowed by a sports writer covering a La Salle game on campus sometime during the 1930's.  He thought that the school was named after the French explorer of  North America.  Despite the error, the nickname has remained. 

La Salle, a Catholic university, provides a broad-based education and teaches its' students Catholic values and encourages a Christian lifestyle.   Pro-life values taught include respect for all human life including the unborn, the sick and the elderly.  In addition, traditional family values are respected.   La Salle welcomes students of all religions.

"The main purpose of faith is to lead us to practice what we believe

- St. John Baptist de La Salle

 

 

The La Salle Tradition : Over 75 Years of Excellence
La Salle has been playing college basketball at a collegiate varsity level since 1931. When La Salle won its 1,000th game in 1992 it became the team with the fewest number of seasons (62) to reach that total.  La Salle has played teams from every major conference and has at least one victory over a team in every one of these conferences. La Salle is one of only 17 colleges to have won both an NIT title and NCAA title.  La Salle is the only member of the Atlantic 10 conference to have won both NIT and NCAA titles.
La Salle has a home court with a bit of that "Palestra" feel to it. The arena was named for the living legend Tom Gola.  Tom Gola, a community leader, is considered by many to be the best college basketball player of all time.  His 2201 rebounds is still a record! 

 

     
 


La Salle Record Books


La Salle's Record in the 1900's by Decade: Never a Losing Decade in 1900's 

Years

Won

Lost

1931-39

103

56

1940-49

134

84

1950-59

210

63

1960-69

163

85

1970-79 

153

119 

1980-89

191

112

1990-99

144

144

1900s Total:

1,098

663

 

 

La Salle Explorer Coaches

Name of Coach

Years

Won

Lost

Percentage
Thomas Conley  1931-33 28 11
.718
Leonard Tanseer 1933-41 90 59
.604
Charles "Obie" O'Brien 1941-43 25 21
.543
Joe Meehan 1943-46 28 30
.483
Charles McGlone 1946-49  61 17
.782
Ken Loeffler (HOF Coach) 1949-55 145 30
.829
Jim Pollard (HOF Player) 1955-58 48 28
.632
Donald "Dudey" Moore 1958-63 79 37
.681
Bob Walters 1963-65 31 17
.646
Joe Heyer 1965-67 24 27
.471
Jim Harding 1967-68 20 8
.714
Tom Gola (HOF Player) 1968-70 37 13
.740
Paul Westhead 1970-79 142 105
.575
Dave "Lefty" Ervin 1979-86 119 87
.578
Bill "Speedy" Morris 1986-2001 238 203
.540
Billy Hahn 2001-2004 38 53
.418
John Giannini 2004-Present 158 154
.506
17 Coaches 83 Years* 1,311 900
.593

* Games through end of 2013-14 season included.


    
Dr. John Giannini

    
                
    Jim Pollard             Dudey Moore        Paul Westhead         Lefty Ervin           Speedy Morris

Tom Gola was the Explorers Head Coach from 1968-70
           

 


NCAA Division One Records of All-Time

The Players with 4,000 or More Career Points and Rebounds

Rank

Player, School Points Rebounds Total
1st Tom Gola, La Salle  2462 2201 4663
2nd Lionel Simmons, La Salle 3217 1429 4646
3rd Elvin Hayes, Houston 2884 1602             4486
4th Dickie Hemric, W. Forest 2587 1802 4389
5th Oscar Robertson, Cinc. 2973 1338 4311
6th Joe Holup, G. Washington 2226 2030 4256
7th Pete Maravich, Louisiana St. 3667 528 4195
8th Harry Kelly, Texas Southern 3066 1085 4151
9th Danny Manning, Kansas 2951 1187 4138
10th Larry Bird, Indiana St.  2850 1247 4097
11th Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina 2872 1219 4091
12th Elgin Baylor, Idaho/Seattle 2500 1559 4059
13th Michael Brooks, La Salle 2628 1372 4000

     

Most Points For Three Teammates in Same Game - 120 Points

Randy Woods (46), Doug Overton (45) and Jack Hurd (29)
for La Salle against Loyola Marymount on December 31, 1990.

 

NCAA Career Rebound Leader: Tom Gola  2201 Career Rebounds



La Salle Explorers' Greats                  

   La Salle Graduates Making it to the NBA   

        

Simmons

Lionel Simmons Third in NCAA scoring with 3217 points, 1990 NCAA College Player of Year. Voted Best Big Five Player of All-Time by Philadelphia college hoops fans. Only player in NCAA history to score more than 3,000 points and grab more than 1,100 rebounds.

 

Career Stats for Lionel Simmons at La Salle: 
Season G FG% FT% Reb. Avg. Pts.  Avg.
1986-87 33 .526 .763 322 9.8 670 20.3
1987-88 34 .485 .757 386 11.4 792 23.3
1988-89 32 .487 .711 365 11.4 908 28.4
1989-90 32 .513 .661  356 11.1 847 26.5
Totals 131 .501 .722 1429 10.9 3217  24.6 

                                 

 

Overton

 

Doug Overton Holds La Salle records for Assists and Steals. Directed La Salle to 3 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

 

Career Stats for Doug Overton at La Salle: 
Season G FG% FT% Reb. Avg. Pts. Avg. 
1987-88 34 .498 .841 81 2.4 265 7.8
1988-89 32 .494 .797 101 3.2 421 13.2
1989-90 32 .519 .798 133 4.2 551 17.2 
1990-91 25 .445 .828 104 4.2 558 22.3 
Totals 123 .486 .814 419 3.4  1795  14.6 

 

Legler

Tim Legler La Salle three-point field goal leader (.456 career). He came to La Salle after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 
Career Stats for Tim Legler at La Salle: 
Season FG% FT% Reb.  Avg. Pts. Avg.
1984-85 26 .469 .708  72 2.8 155 6.0
1985-86 28 .502 .833 110 3.9 361 12.9
1986-87 33 .478 .782  147 4.5 616 18.7
1987-88 34 .490 .803 139 4.1 567 16.7
Totals 121 .486 .791 468 3.9 1699 14.0

 

Woods

Randy Woods A fearless shooter. He led La Salle to 3 post season appearances.

Career Stats for Randy Woods at La Salle: 
Season FG% FT% Reb. Avg. Pts. Avg.
1989-90 32 .394  .737 101 3.2 425 13.3
1990-91 25 .427 .796 123 4.9 539 21.6 
1991-92 31 .417 .813 194 6.3 847 27.3
Totals 88 .414 .794 418 4.8 1811 20.6




Butler

Rasual Butler A long range shooter at the start. He learned to rebound and improved his overall game every season.

Career Stats for Rasual Butler at La Salle: 
Season FG% FT% Reb. Avg. Pts. Avg.
1998-99 21 .380  .741 83 4.0 298 14.2
1999-00 28 .381 .817 148 5.3 516 18.4 
2000-01 29 .402 .845 187 6.4 641 22.1
2001-02 32 .433 .854 261 9.0 670 20.9
Totals 110 .407 .829 701 6.4 2125 19.3




Smith

Steven Smith Twice-selected as Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year. Multi-talented player who could score, rebound and play solid defense.

Career Stats for Steven Smith at La Salle: 
Season FG% FT% Reb. Avg. Pts. Avg.
2002-03 20 .509  .756 162 8.1 289 14.4
2003-04 30 .457 .820 244 8.1 512 17.0 
2004-05 29 .428 .806 246 8.5 588 20.2
2005-06 28 .485 .773 220 7.9 551 19.6
Totals 107 .463 .793 872 8.2 1940 18.1




Other La Salle players who have made it to the NBA (or ABA):
 

Michael Brooks; Joe Bryant; Larry Cannon; Ken Durrett; Bob Fields; Larry Foust; Jack George; Tom Gola; Norm Grekin; Ralph Lewis; Jackie Moore; Jim Phelan; Tom Piotrowski; George Sutor; Roland Taylor; Bernie Williams.

 

     Retired Numbers
15 Tom Gola
22 Lionel Simmons
32 Michael Brooks
33 Ken Durrett

The All-Time Great La Salle Players Include:

                          
    Tom Gola          Michael Brooks        Ken Durrett

Tom Gola led La Salle to 1952 NIT title and 1954 NCAA title, 1955 College Player of the Year.
Larry Cannon
* led the Explorers in assists in late 1960's.

Ken Durrett * scored 1,679 points in 71 games (1968-1971). 

Michael Brooks * 1980 College Player of the Year. 

Steve Black scored 2,012 points (1981-1985). 

Lionel Simmons * 1990 Unanimous College Player of the Year. 

Kareem Townes scored 1,925 points in 81 games (1992-1995). 

Donnie Carr scored 2,067 points (1996-2000).

Rasual Butler scored 2,125 points (1998-2002).

Steven Smith scored 1,940 points in 107 games (2002-2006).



                    
  Steve Black      Donnie Carr      



The Palestra, pictured above, was the home court to all Big 5 teams for 30 years.  More NCAA games have been played in the Palestra then any other facility in the nation.  It is a great place to see a game.


La Salle has been a member of Philadelphia's Big 5 since it began over 50 years ago. The Big 5 consists of:
La Salle Explorers
, Pennsylvania Quakers, St. Joseph's Hawks, Temple Owls and Villanova Wildcats. La Salle is the only Philadelphia area university with multiple National Player of the Year winners - Gola, Brooks, and Simmons. 

Big 5: Top 10 Players of All-Time

* La Salle has 4 of the top 10 - no other Big 5 institution has more than 2
Tom Gola played before Big 5 was formed. 

The Championship Years

The Road to the 1952 NIT Championship
 

Seton Hall, St. John's and Duquesne were beaten by La Salle in the first three rounds. 

 

March 15, 1952 NIT Championship GameLa Salle 75, Dayton 64 

Tom Gola and Norm Grekin shared MVP honors. At this time the NIT was considered superior to the NCAA tournament.  Both La Salle and Philadelphia received notice from all around the country.  


    The 1952 NIT Championship trophy on display at the Palestra

The Road to 1954 NCAA Championship  

1st Round:  La Salle 76, Fordham 74 (OT)  

Eastern Regional Semi:  La Salle 88, NC State 81 

Eastern Regional Final:  La Salle 64, Navy 48 

National SemiFinal:  La Salle 92, Penn State 54 

March 20, 1954 NCAA Championship GameLa Salle 92, Bradley 76 

In the 5 tournament games the future Hall of Famer Gola averaged 22.8 points and 20.4 rebounds. Charley Singley averaged 17.2 points; Frank Blatcher 13.4 points; Fran O'Malley 10.2 points; and Frank O'Hara, the only senior, 6.8 points. Tom Gola was named the tournament's Outstanding Player and was joined on the All-Tournament team by Singley. The NCAA tournament was now considered superior to the NIT and has been ever since. This was the first-ever televised championship game. Legendary Hall of Fame Coach Ken Loeffler had won 2 championships in 3 years.  La Salle also reached the NCAA championship game in 1955 under the direction of coach Loeffler. The 1954 Trophy is on display at the Gola Arena.


Ken Loeffler

 

1952 NIT Champions
La Salle Explorers



Our Home Court - Tom Gola Arena in the Hayman Center








La Salle is in one of the most exciting and dynamic conferences in the nation.  The Atlantic 10 provides Division One competition, television exposure in the top television markets and a quality experience for student-athletes.
 

        



   
God Bless the United States of America

 

Please visit and make a donation to the following charities:


History Contents Copyright 1996-2014 by Explorer Steve; Contents may be used by permission ONLY. All Rights Reserved.

This page last updated: 04/12/2014





History Quicklinks:
History
- Record Books - La Salle Greats - Big 5 - Flashback 1952 and 1954


Designed by Clear Stage Sports