Q&A with Coach Giannini Part II

We bring you part II of Explorer Hoop Report's Q& A with La Salle Explorer head coach Dr. John Giannini covering the past, present, and future of La Salle basketball. Questions submitted by the fans and answered by the very popular head coach of the La Salle Explorers.

EHR: - What is the biggest concern you have about the team and what do you feel the team needs to work on heading into practice which started October 13th?

Coach Giannini: My concern is that we will have 5 freshman and 1 sophomore play critical roles for us. This is an exciting beginning for us, but it is only a beginning. In truth, this is our low point. Our experience, depth, and talent will improve in the next few years. That being said, I think we could have a chance to become a good team this year because I really believe in our players. We just have to learn and improve as quickly as possible. This is the most transitional roster I have ever had, but once this team gets playing well I think we will be a solid program for a long time. What we have to work on is everything because we have so much newness, but I think rebounding is a big key. If we rebound well I think we can be pretty good. We also need to shoot better, especially from the free throw line.

EHR: Some La Salle fans are worried about the perceived lack of height on the team. How do you intend to play other teams with a bigger frontline?

Coach Giannini: We will front the post, give weak side help and use ball pressure. Opponents will also have to match up against us. Often teams take big guys out when they can't guard quicker players who can shoot. Recruiting big players who have limited ability is not the way to take our program to a high level. We really need players who can help immediately and these are not a lot of recruitable kids like that with big size. Our overall team size will be good with a lot of players who can rebound and post.

EHR: How important is this season coming off the team's 18 wins from last season with regard to the future of the program?

Coach Giannini: Every season is critical. If we can have back to back winning season following 13 years of losing and the starting point we had two years ago, that would be great. However, losing your best players and playing freshmen and sophomores is a major transition. We will have most of our team returning in '07-'08 and expect another good recruiting class so this season is a beginning for us.

EHR: What are your thoughts on future La Salle schedules? When do you intend to upgrade and how much depends on the Atlantic 10's new tiered scheduling system?

Coach Giannini: There are only two valid scheduling philosophies. One is to give your team a chance to win which builds confidence and morale. The second is to challenge a proven team and to strengthen post-season opportunities. I hope we will begin shifting to the latter philosophy next year. In theory, the A-10 proposal is identical to my philosophy: when you have a team ready for the NCAA tourney you Should schedule with the RPI in mind.

EHR: After coaching in the Atlantic 10 for two years what is your overall thoughts on the conference? Has anything surprised you that you did not realize or has it been as you expected when you took the head coaching position?

Coach Giannini: Before I was in the A-10, the conference had 3 to 5 national level programs, a middle, and a few weaker teams. The last couple of years have had a few nationally prominent teams, but I feel there are more good and solid teams. Almost all the programs are rising. I expect us to get back to seeing 3-4 NCAA Tournament teams with the over-all top to bottom quality being better than ever.

EHR: Does being a member of the Big 5 still offer you an advantage in recruiting? Do you sell that to prospective recruits?

Coach Giannini: The Big 5 is a unique and special tradition for those who have experience it. The players at the schools look forward to these rivalry games. The many fans of the Big 5 have countless memories from the last 50 years and keep following these games and the teams. However, most recruits have not experienced the Big 5. They are more interested in the strength of your conference. I don't think it impacts recruiting, but once a player gets in a Big 5 environment, they will always remember it.

Explorer Hoop Report would like to thank Dr. John Giannini for his time and effort in helping us with the Q&A session.