John Giannini’s ability to rebuild overshadows any potential tournament hope.
La Salle did not have a great season by any means. However, like any year, there are always positives to take away looking towards next season and beyond. The Explorers went 3-3 over their last 6 games of the season, a very big improvement over the previous 18 games, where they went just 1-17. La Salle also beat 2/3rds of the conference champions this season, defeating both Dayton and St. Bonaventure at home (they were not able to beat VCU in the their only meeting). This shows that the Explorers do in fact have the ability to play with the best in the conference – just that they can’t do it consistently.
The Philadelphia school does have one other thing on their side however: history. More specifically, their coach. John Giannini has shown an ability to rebound from losing seasons and rebuild quickly.
In 2005, he took over a La Salle program where 4 to 5 conference wins was the norm. In his first year the rebuilding began, and he took the Explorers to a middling 5-11 conference record. In 2006, he immediately turned things around to the tune of an 18-10 (10-6) mark. In the years that followed, La Salle alternated between low win years and bouncing back with one or two seasons with good records. A 3-13 conference record in 2007 was turned into 8-8 and 9-7 in ’08 and ’09. A 6-10 conference record in 2011 became 24-10 (11-5) by 2013, and included an NCAA Tournament berth and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
La Salle has once again fell on hard times. After a couple years of middling years, they have finished this season with single-digit wins for the first time under Giannini. However if history is any indicator, La Salle will bounce back next year a new team. The good news for the Explorers is that they are returning all but one player (senior guard Rohan Brown, averaging 4.2 ppg, will be leaving), and will hopefully have everyone healthy to start the season.
The Explorers will look to make some noise in the Atlantic Ten Tournament this season, however, and see if they can win some game with their recent solid play. Having a win or two could provide some valuable momentum and energy into what should be a very important offseason for La Salle. While it might not have been an ideal year for Explorers fans, they can hopefully look towards next season optimistically, knowing they have an experienced roster and history on their side.