When I entered Tom Gola arena tonight I expected a fairly easy victory. After all Howard has been blistered by High Point and Cincinnati. While going through the emotions of the game I was upset with the team's execution one minute and thrilled at a glimpse of what could be the very next minute. That is what we are going to see with this year's version of coach John Giannini's team. Moments of thrilling basketball and moments of shear bewilderment.
After two games some things are clear with this team. They are quick, they are talented, they are energetic, and most importantly they are just freshmen. They are going to make mistakes and have made mistakes. Alot of them. Still the team has won two close games. While that is not as exciting to fans as two easy victories, the lessons learned from playing and winning in close games is invaluable to the growth this young team desperately needs. As a fan you hate to go through it and watch it but it is a far better tool for teaching a team that has just four players with 30+ collegiate games under their belts.
Defense is the major disappointment with this team right now. Quite frankly it has not been very good. It must improve or La Salle is looking at a long season as the competiton gets more difficult. Weak side help has been non-existant and not contesting shots in the lane has been the norm.
Rebounding has been adequate and while we have no true big man the bigger guards have helped in that area. Outside shooting has been better than expected. Both games the Explorers shot over 50% from 3 point range. However, they need to be willing to pull up and take the outside shot more often and stop forcing drives and passes into the lane which has resulted in alot of turnovers thus far.
As I walked out of the game I realized that we have gotten pretty much what we should expect to get from this team. Flashes of good basketball as well as the pitfalls of playing three to four freshmen at a time. Mike St. John has struggled his first two games. He played his best basketball of the season the last 5 minutes of the Howard game. La Salle pulled away. There is a correlation between the two. La Salle needs Mike St. John to play well.
After two games only Darnell Harris and Sherman Diaz have played two solid games. In fact Harris has been terrific. The freshmen will get better and learn how to play at this level. When that happens and when Mike St. John plays the way he is capable of, this team will be much better. Until then fans have to be patient. The process of freshmen becoming players they can be takes time and will not repsond to anything but their ability to grasp the offense or defense, to adjust to the speed of the college game or the strength of the college game. As fans the best thing we can do is be patient and hope each game the team plays it improves.
Explorers early season play not surprising
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