Tonight was the first night everyone could get a look at the La Salle basketball team. The team held their open practice in the Tom Gola Arena where alumni filled in to get to see the team who’s hoping to repeat the success of the 2012-2013 season.
The Explorers were pretty consistent while running through various plays and doing inner-team scrimmages. Coach Giannni did stop play a few times to comment on the sloppy play happening on the rebound, but for the most part things seem to be coming together smoothly. Giannini said he was pleased with how the practice went.
There were two players absent on the court during the open practice. Khalid Lewis is currently on the sidelines in a hard cast due to a broken metacarpal in his hand. According to Giannini the cast is on for three weeks, then depending on how Lewis is he’ll be back on the court.
Forward Jerrell Wright was also absent from the practice due to a concussion. Despite both these injuries Coach Giannini is confident they will be better and back on the court soon.
Taking over Wright’s spot Jermaine Davis had the chance to showcase his ability tonight. At 6-9 Davis was solid in getting rebounds and was up at the net dunking while practicing plays.
Steve Zack also looks lighter on his feet this season moving faster on the court and making himself more aggressive at the net.
Redshirts Cleon Roberts and Amar Stukes got a chance to display their talent. Both appear to fit well into La Salle’s fast and aggressive play and will be key to the team next year.
The anticipated starters, Tryone Garland, Tyreek Duren and Sam Mills held up to their preseason expectations. All three were making buckets consistently and fast on their feet. Duren demonstrated how he can still push through the big guys to get to the basket.
Fans can expect to see a similar style of play from last year even though the Explorers are without Ramon Galloway.
“We lose Ramon, a guy who’s played a lot, but we add Khalid who’s brand new, and Jermaine who’s brand new, and a lot of these guys are better,” said Giannini.
The team has goals to win the Atlantic 10 tournament but Giannini stated that the most important thing is to make the NCAA tournament.
Whereas only one team wins the A-10, multiple make the NCAA tournament. Giannini is aiming for the team to finish second or third in the A-10, which would keep them from being on the bubble of even being asked to be in the tournament. A higher finish in the A-10 also would give the team a higher seed in the Big Dance.
Giannini is confident the Explorers can accomplish this goal, “ I think we have a terrific chance. It’ll come down to staying healthy and winning close games.”