La Salle went into its game against the Carleton Alumni team slightly confused. After all, this was supposed to be a team filled with European pros and former stars.
Then the Explorers actually saw their opponent.
“They actually threw us off a little bit,” head coach Dr. John Giannini said. “There were pros in their 30s, and they had put on a few pounds. So the players looked at them, and thought it would be easier.”
La Salle shouldn’t have underestimated the Alumni team, though. Two-time national player of the year Osvaldo Jeanty scored 34 points as Carleton Alumni knocked off the Explorers, 80-77.
Giannini didn’t seem too upset about the loss, especially since La Salle bounced back and beat seven-time national champion Carleton to finish 2-1 on the trip.
“Some people think you don’t learn as much when you lose,” he said. “But losses stick with kids a little bit.”
What he learned: “We may not be able to pressure the ball against drive-and-kick teams as much as we like to. We really emphasized defense and pressuring the ball in practice. But 3-point shooting teams with good guards are able to beat pressure since they draw help and kick out for threes. In a game against Carelton, they had 12 3-point shots and only eight two-pointers. We learned we have to adjust against 3-point shooting teams. Jeanty taught us you better be ready to cover ball screens.”
What impressed him: Team chemistry and mental toughness – “I think the fact that they really enjoy each other’s company. They’re very cohesive. I like the way they lived with each other for 14 days. Also, I like the way they handled things from a mental point of view. They let us push them, they took criticism. It’s realistic experience – there’s no substitute for handling the ball against pressure when you have the lead late with the game on the lane.”
What concerned him: Lack of frontcourt experience – “We’re very young, that’s why we took this trip. Our guards are pretty good and pretty experienced, but our bigs are very young. Devon White has played for us, but not at the level we need him at. We need Devon to step up and our young big guys to step up.”
- 6-foot-2 sophomore Sam Mills (pictured) is expected to take the next step. “He had a tremendous trip,” Giannini said. “He’s going to have a good jump. He was very good for us as a freshman, but he’ll be a good Atlantic 10 combo guard this season.”
- Giannini is excited about the newcomers. Jerrell Wright shot 11-for-12 in the final two games of the trip, and D.J. Peterson played excellent defense. Matt Lopez and Steve Zack are two 7-footers that also showed flashes. “We love our young players,” Giannini said.
- Giannini prefers tripping to Canada as opposed to Europe. “With the traveling, along with the proper amount of rest, Europe is a minimum of 10 days,” he said. “This was real convenient.”
- La Salle suffered no injuries on the trip. “Thank goodness nothing like that happened,” Giannini said. “Two years ago, we lost more points per game to injury than anyone in the country. At the end of the year, we were missing three 1,000-point scorers.”
- Former Rutgers transfer Earl Pettis played well, as did South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway, who was recently cleared by the NCAA to play immediately. Sophomore Tyreek Duren has spent the summer working on his strength and conditioning, so he played very little five-on-five before the trip.
Photo: US Presswire