While students and players celebrated around him on the floor at Tom Gola Arena, John Giannini remained an island of calm and perspective following La Salle’s 54-53 upset of No. 9 Butler.
The La Salle coach expects his team to play well. He feels that if the Explorers play well, then it’s no surprise to gain a home victory over a high-quality team such as Butler. If they want to be among the contenders for the Atlantic Ten Conference championship, they should be winning games like this.
“You know what’s crazy?” he said after Wednesday night’s game. “I told the team I expect us to be good. If you see me in big wins, I’m not jumping around and doing dances. I expect us to be good. I’m upset when we’re not good. It was a dramatic win for our players and for our fans and students. It was awesome. But am I going to tell you I’m shocked that we won? Absolutely not.
La Salle forward Garvin Hunt, a graduate student, saw just five minutes of playing time Saturday against Penn, but it was five minutes that meant an awful lot to him.
Hunt received his degree in architecture last May from Penn. He played for the Quakers in the 2008-09 season as a freshman and saw action in six games, but decided to leave the team after that year to focus on his studies.
He transferred to La Salle, where he is seeking a Masters degree in business administration, and was allowed to play immediately this season after being welcomed by coach John Giannini. Saturday was his eighth appearance on the court in La Salle’s 13 games, but one that held significant meaning.
NEW YORK – Teams will certainly be on guard when playing against La Salle’s men’s basketball team this year. Coming off a 21-13 season that included a bid to the NIT, the Explorers provide tremendous depth in the backcourt.
Yes, they have to replace Earl Pettis, who averaged 15.4 points, but Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland, a 6-1 junior from Bartram, becomes eligible following the fall semester.
“The guards are clearly the strength of our team,” La Salle coach John Giannini said during Atlantic-10 media day at the Barclays Center, which will be home to the conference tournament.. “We think we have good young big guys with Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack, but I think we have a group of guards I wouldn’t trade for anybody.”
Video: La Salle pushed back several times but couldn't complete a comeback and fell to Saint Louis, 78-71, in the opening round of the Atlantic Ten Tournament. The Inquirer's Mike Jensen reports from Boardwalk Hall.
La Salle has clinched a home game in the first round of next week's Atlantic 10 tournament. The Explorers, who won at George Washington on Wednesday, can still finish anywhere from the No. 5 to 8 seed, all of which would make them a host on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. game.
The Explorers host St. Bonaventure at 2 p.m. in its A-10 regular-season finale. The Atlantic 10 regular season concludes for teams on Saturday, after which seedings for the tournament will be determined, which includes La Salle's Tuesday opponent.
La Salle (19-11, 8-7 A-10) has a chance for 20 wins for the first time since 1991-92. It's also senior day, as the school will honor co-captains Earl Pettis and Matt Sheehan in a pregame ceremony.
Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg had a first-hand look at La Salle on Jan. 8 and he didn’t particularly enjoy the view.
La Salle beat the Minutemen, 82-75 at Tom Gola Arena in a game that the Explorers exploded early and held on late.
The Explorers led, 51-26 at halftime.
An hour after a convincing 85-72 win over visiting Charlotte, La Salle moved into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to losses by Massachusetts and St. Bonaventure.
Just don’t expect head coach John Giannini to celebrate yet.
“It’s like being up at halftime against a really good team,” said the head coach. “We had a really good half, but now it’s winning time. Now it really counts. It’s not bad to be up at halftime, but it’s only halftime. Nothing is won at halftime.”
Ramon Galloway pulled off a player of the week sweep.
The La Salle guard was named the Big Five player of the week on Monday. Several hours earlier, the junior guard and Massachusetts forward Raphiael Putney were named Atlantic Ten Conference co-players of the week.
Galloway averaged 21.5 points, seven assists and 4.5 rebounds in last week's victories over George Washington and Duquesne.