Following last night's 70-59 loss to Villanova, La Salle coach John Giannini couldn't hide his displeasure with his team's inability to pass the basketball.
It is a problem the Explorers have encountered for quite a while. One glance at their turnover totals (124) compared to assists (88) shows a glaring problem that is hurting the club. Only twice this season have the Explorers totalled more assists than turnovers. Against Connecticut they had 11 dimes against 10 TO's and they had 16 and 14 against Florida State. Oddly enough, the Explorers dropped both of those games.
Many fans commented to me last night during and after the game about La Salle's need for a point guard. Of course, Rodney Green was thrust into the position last year. Though he appears to be more of a slashing wing player, coach Giannini loves the idea of Green running the show and has often compared him to former Temple guard Mardy Collins. And to Green's credit, he has never complained about the move and has shown flashes at times that warrants his coach's praise.
To lay La Salle's offensive woes soley on Green is a mistake. From our vantage point, we see a lot of weak picks and bad decision-making all around on the offensive end. In a game against a good team like Villanova, each offensive possession is crucial. Too many times last night, La Salle took questionable shots at during key possessions. If you were at the game and saw coach Giannini's reaction on the sideline, you know the plays I'm speaking of. The team is also hindered by the lack of a consistent outside shooter. Darnell Harris was terrific last season in bailing the offense out of a bad possession with his deadly shooting. But that isn't there this year, and without that safety net, the struggles are magnified.
La Salle plays terrific defense, using its size, length and athleticism to affectively switch in its man-to-man defense. They also outrebound opponents by an average of more than five a game. That is something that will keep the Explorers in every game they play. And like Giannini said last night, when the team learns to pass the ball better, they'll score more.
Obviously, it isn't that simple. Better picks and better decision-making will also help. But should that come together the way the coach envisions, there's enough positives in other places to make it a successful season.