La Salle basketball officially started team practice this week as announced on the goexplorer website. It seems at the last minute Coach Dr. John Giannini decided to adjust his opinion on the NCAA’s new practice rule as he had originally said the team wouldn’t start practicing until October 11. But the team is not into their “full force” preseason just yet, as they currently have two days of rest on the weekends.
As practices have begun, preseason rankings have been made, and La Salle is expected to finish towards the top of the Atlantic 10 in Chalktalk’s preseason rankings. La Salle is third on this list right behind VCU and Saint Louis.
VCU pulled the first ranked spot on Chalktalks list after a 27-9 overall season. Saint Louis was deemed second after winning the A-10 tournament in Brooklyn (defeating VCU) and finishing number one in the conference last year. These two teams will be La Salle’s biggest competition this season.
In the 2012-2013 season La Salle beat VCU, 69-61, but the Explorers were not able to keep up with Saint Louis, losing 54-78.
The Explorers secured their third spot in the standings by being a veteran team, only loosing one senior, and returning 75% of their scoring from last season.
With all the hype and heavy expectations Giannini told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they are striving to not let external expectations affect anything they do.
So far the predictions for another successful season aren’t affecting the players either. “We don’t pay attention to it all because it doesn’t mean anything,” said junior guard D.J. Peterson.
On top of high team expectations Tyreek Duren was predicted to be First Team All-Conference, as well as being the player with the best handle on the ball.
Chalktalks claims that Duren is the most consistent performer in the league at his position.
Giannini isn’t surprised by these predictions. He recruited Duren as a player they could build around, “What we really love about him is his intangibles; he has terrific poise, great competitiveness, he loves basketball and is a great decision maker.”
For Duren high expectations might not be his biggest concern this year. The senior is still dealing with a nagging shoulder injury that occurred midway through the season last year. But so far a bum shoulder hasn’t hurt his stats or poise on the court. City of Basketball Love has recently named Duren their “City 6 preseason player of the year.”