La Salle catalyst Ramon Galloway grateful for his chance

Don't call them losers: Ramon Galloway after La Salle's loss to Wichita State in the NCAAs. It was the first Explorers team to advance as far in more than 50 years.
Don't call them losers: Ramon Galloway after La Salle's loss to Wichita State in the NCAAs. It was the first Explorers team to advance as far in more than 50 years. (AP)
Posted: April 01, 2013

LOS ANGELES - Ramon Galloway had just a couple of things he wanted to say when it was finally over, when La Salle's rush and rumble through the NCAA tournament came to an abrupt ending against Wichita State in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

He controlled the floor for two seasons with the Explorers, so it seemed fitting that he take the floor one last time, and that's what he did in the quiet locker room after the game.

"I told them I love them," Galloway said. "Not just the players, but the coaches, the managers, the trainers. Everybody played a part. I thanked them for every moment, every second. I've been on teams before where there were sub-groups on the team. Here, it's a team. We care for each other and love each other, and everyone smiles. You can't take life so seriously. You only get one chance, and I'm glad I got this chance."

It was the first La Salle team to have that chance - playing in the NCAA tournament - in more than 20 years. It was the first team to advance as far in more than 50 years. Chances like that don't always come around, but for this group, anchored by the scoring, defense, and leadership of Galloway, the opportunity presented itself, and the players grabbed it and ran for nearly two weeks.

And then it was done, and Galloway had said what he had to say, and the guys had stopped hugging and had dried a few tears, and life went on. They checked their messages and got some food from the little buffet on one side of the room. Galloway still stood there, the blue uniform dark from the exertion of the game. Eventually, he would have to take it off and never put it on again.

"I might keep this uniform on for three days," he said. "It's a bittersweet feeling. To close the door is hard, because I want to get back out there and play again. I want this opportunity again. It's a weird feeling. I got in here and shed a couple of tears, but I had to wipe my face because we got here. I'm glad we made this great run and stuck together. We had tough times, but we were a family. It was hard work to get here."

Galloway, who was granted a transfer from South Carolina after his sophomore year to come home and help care for his family, leaves as one of only eight Explorers to score 1,000 points in their first two seasons. He joined a list that has names on it such as Tom Gola, Ken Durrett, and Lionel Simmons.

The record book is a dusty place, though, and Galloway's value to the team went beyond the numbers. He was a cohesive force, the best player who was also the best guy.

"Not having that voice around will be strange," junior Sam Mills said. "He's always a loudmouth. You can hear him a mile away. Not having that presence is going to be missed."

Galloway would have liked to leave on a better note, or at least a better game. In La Salle's three tournament wins, Galloway averaged 21 points and shot over 50 percent from the field, while also averaging 38 minutes of playing time. Against Wichita State, he missed his first six shots from the field and finished 4 for 15.

It was an out-of-character game for La Salle in some ways, but it was also just a product of being an undersize team playing an opponent with a very good inside presence. Getting outrebounded is nothing new for the Explorers. They were outrebounded 20 times this season and won 16 of those games. The Shockers, however, were more emphatic about it than most.

"We can't take nothing away from them. They played great, and we didn't have our best game," Galloway said. "You're not going to have your greatest game every time. I had three good games and in this one I missed shots. Point blank. Period. Nobody's perfect."

Maybe not, but Galloway was good enough and consistent enough for two seasons to help lead La Salle to a pair of 20-plus win seasons and back into the NCAA tournament.

"He was the final piece. He made all this possible," coach John Giannini said. "And in the locker room, he told the team that this isn't over. It will be strange [without Galloway], but over time you learn to adjust. We'll get used to not having Ramon out there with us, but it's a process. It will probably take from May to next October to do that. But time has a way of doing those things."

Other players will come in, other stories will be told, and the memory of that voice will diminish. Never entirely, though. Not as long as there is an NCAA tournament and not as long as La Salle teams work to do as well as this one did.

"We got here," Galloway said. "And it wasn't no fluke. We had to go out there and play."

Eventually, they had to stop, too. They had to take off the uniform. But that's not the part they will remember.


Contact Bob Ford at bford@phillynews.com. Follow @bobfordsports on Twitter. Read his blog at www.philly.com/postpatterns.

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