Welcome to A10 Talk’s Top 14 Coach Countdown of the 2016-17 season. We like to rank the players of the A-10 each season, but we’d also like to take a look at the brains of the operations. Who were the best coaches of the 2016-17 season? Who were the worst? Our site voted and compiled a list based on last season alone. This list is representative of how well each coach performed in the 2016-17 season, not in his entire career. Today, we feature #11 John Giannini.
1. 5 game winning streak in January
La Salle opened conference play with a road loss to Dayton, but Giannini got his team on the right track immediately following that defeat. La Salle managed to rattle off five straight wins against A-10 opponents. Giannini’s offense flourished in that span and averaged 86 points per game, 20.8 points more than their season average. After taking down Saint Louis, Duquesne, Rhode Island, George Washington and Davidson, La Salle improved their record to 11-5 overall, and 5-1 in Atlantic 10 action.
2. 87-75 win at Rhode Island
The Explorers struggled in most games against teams at the top of the conference standings last season, but taking down Rhode Island in the middle of their winning streak was defintely their biggest win of the season. B.J. Johnson and Pookie Powell, two of the transfers that Giannini brought to La Salle, each finished with 16 points and Amir Stukes put up a game high 22 points en route to victory over URI.
1. 90-52 road loss to VCU
By no means is losing to VCU something to be ashamed of, however losing by a margin of 38 points on national television is ugly. The Rams’ defense completely stumped La Salle and Giannini’s team was only able to put up 16 points in the first half. The Explorers finished the game with 16 turnovers. The 52 point effort was a season low for La Salle.
2. Consecutive losses to UMass and Saint Louis
With just three games remaining in the regular season, La Salle appeared to have three winnable games (UMass, Saint Louis, Fordham) in front of them. The stretch began in Amherst on a Sunday afternoon. Giannini’s defense was picked apart and unable to find a way to slow the Minutemen down from behind the arc, and UMass finished shooting 55% from downtown. The Minutemen pulled out a 84-71 victory. La Salle then had to head to Saint Louis, where they suffered another loss to one of the conference’s weaker teams. The Explorers shot just 4-26 from three point range in the loss to Saint Louis. While La Salle was able to beat Fordham in their regular season finale, the losses to UMass and Saint Louis were rough.
Even with B.J. Johnson and Pookie Powell returning next season, losing Jordan Price will be a big blow to La Salle. Giannini will need to find some way to fill the gap created by Price’s departure in order for his team to see some sort of success next season. Even without Price, La Salle should be able to win at least a handful of conference games but I’m sure Giannini and his team are looking to make more noise than that.