Gianni lauds Explorers' guards

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.”

In addition to Garland, those guard include Ramon Galloway (14.1 ppg.), Tyreek Duren (13.2 ppg.), Sam Mills (team-high 35.6 minutes per game, 10.6 ppg.) and sophomore D.J. Peterson.

Giannini calls Galloway, Duren and Mills potential all-conference players.

The work of the 6-8 Wright, named to last year’s A-10 All-Rookie Team, will be crucial and the Explorers have to hope that 6-11 Stephen Zack continues to develop, but it will be the guards who will have the biggest impact on both ends of the court.

La Salle was picked seventh in the conference in the preseason coaches/media poll. Yet just like last year, this is viewed as a dangerous team, one that can certainly compete with anybody in the conference, especially with such a deep group of backcourt performers.