La Salle Explorers
2012-2013 Overall Rank: #80
Conference Rank: #8 Atlantic 10
La Salle Team Page
The expectations at La Salle were at an all-time low last season as it appeared the Explorers had a lot of rebuilding to do. And they did, especially without Aaric Murray, who transferred to West Virginia. But Dr. John Giannini pulled his team together and finished tied for fifth in the A-10 and reached the NIT. La Salle lost in their NIT opener to Minnesota, but just getting to the NIT was a major accomplishment and probably saved Coach Giannini his job. The emergence of 6-7 forward Jerrell Wright helped immensely for a squad that was very guard heavy. Wright averaged 9.8 points and led the team with 5.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks as a freshman. A year older, wiser and stronger and Wright will be a major force in the conference.
2011-12 Record: 21-13, 9-7
2011-12 Postseason: NIT
Coach: John Giannini
Coach Record: 127-134 at La Salle, 410-283 overall
On paper the big loss is Earl Pettis. The former Scarlet Knight wrapped up his collegiate career averaging 15.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. Pettis was not the most consistent shooter on the team, but he was a threat from long range. He was just one of a few players who could attack the basket. Fortunately, La Salle has plenty of talent returning on the perimeter that can pick up the slack left behind by Pettis. The transfer of Devin White hits the frontcourt pretty hard. Coach Giannini has some other frontcourt options this year, but White was the player the Explorers would call on when they needed another forward to team up with Wright or when Wright needed a break. Fellow post players Matt Lopez and Matt Sheehan are also gone, but they failed to make an impact last season when La Salle really needed the frontcourt help.
Now much of the frontcourt depth will have to come from newcomers Garvin Hunt and Jermain Davis. Hunt is a graduate transfer from Penn. He may have some experience, but he never made much of an impact in the Ivy League. At the least he is a big body that can bang around in the paint. At 6-9 and 280 pounds, incoming freshman Jermaine Davis can throw his weight around under the basket as well. He may need some polishing, but Davis can eat up some fouls and play some defense. Tyrone Garland will be eligible to play after the first semester. The Virginia Tech transfer did not see much action with the Hokies, but is a fine all-around scorer and a decent ball handler and defender. Redshirt freshman Rohan Brown will look to add some depth and size on the wing.
Who to Watch:
The talent in the backcourt led this team to the NIT last year and will look to keep that momentum going in 2012-2013. It all starts with point guard Tyreek Duren. The 6-0 junior is a great floor leader who can make things happen for himself and his teammates. Duren dished out 4.4 assists per game as a freshman and 4.0 last season. He has also become a more dangerous scorer, knocking down nearly 40 percent of his long range attempts. Duren would be a good player just with his passing and defense, but his ability to score makes him extremely difficult for the opposition to deal with. Ramon Galloway was eligible to play immediately last season after transferring from South Carolina and he wasted little time making a big impact. Galloway proved to be a very consistent outside shooter, knocking down 44.2 percent of his attempts from long range. But Galloway can do more than shoot and is not afraid to use his 6-3 frame to attack the basket. After averaging 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists last year, expect even better numbers from Galloway this time around. Sam Mills was supposed to just be a shooter, but that is not the case anymore. He can still shoot. He is coming off of a season in which he knocked down two long balls per game at a 41.7 percent clip, but Mills also did more damage inside of the arc. With D.J. Peterson growing into an experienced sophomore, the backcourt has the talent and depth to again lead this team to the postseason.
However, which postseason they go to might depend more on the development of 6-11 sophomore center Steve Zack. Zack spent his freshman season averaging less than ten minutes per game, but he really needed to get stronger before he could make much of an impact. A year in the gym has helped and now it is hoped Zack can step into the starting lineup. That would allow Wright to play at his more natural power forward spot and give La Salle a more traditional look most of the time. The Explorers would need to still play small at times, but that was rarely an issue last season with versatile players like Galloway and Peterson helping out on the glass. Last year may have been a fluke of a season spurred on by the immediate eligibility of Galloway and the hot shooting of Mills, but that was a pretty young team. It is still a pretty young team, but Duren, Mills and Wright all have at least a year of starting experience under their belt and are ready to lead La Salle back to the postseason…which is quite an accomplishment even if it is a return trip to the NIT.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Tyreek Duren, Junior, Guard, 13.2 points per game
Sam Mills, Junior, Guard, 10.6 points per game
Ramon Galloway, Senior, Guard, 14.1 points per game
Jerrell Wright, Sophomore, Forward, 9.8 points per game
Steve Zack, Sophomore, Center, 1.4 points per game