.In a phone conversation yesterday from the Virgin Islands, La Salle coach John Giannini sounded somewhat disappointed that his team had lost two of its three games in the Paradise Jam down in the Virgin Islands. I don't think his attitude is solely because of the losses there, but more because of the team's frustrating ablility to play well against good teams, stay close in the game, but come up short more times than not.
The Explorers certainly have been in their share of nail-biters. Ther last seven wins, including last year, have been by a total of 20 points. But it's the close losses that seem to stick with coaches and fans longer than the close wins. So far this year the three losses have been by 15 points. Last year, 12 of their 17 losses were by nine points or less. But more than that, had La Salle been able to beat a good Southern Mississippi in the second round on Saturday, that would have made for a very successful trip to the isles. And maybe given the team a little more confidence in beating a quality team. Missing two foul shots with 1.8 seconds left and the game tied just adds to the sour taste of losing.
That isn't to say the Explorers haven't won big games. Their win against St. Joe's last season at the Palestra was one of the biggest since Giannini's been there. But it's just a feeling we have that if they could pull off a big upset, it would go a very long way for the team's confidence.
Look for Giannini to try to concentrate on getting Vernon Goodridge more involved in the offense during the practice sessions leading up to next Tuesday's home game against La Salle. The team has to learn to get the ball inside to Goodridge better, and the Mississippi St. transfer has to stay out of foul trouble so his team can get used to him a bit more.