Open Practice Notes

La Salle held their annual open practice and luncheon with former Explorer and broadcasting great Bill Rafftery. It was a chance for fans to get a look at the 2007-2008 edition of the Explorers basketball team and a public glimpse at one of the greatest players in college basketball history.

Coach John Giannini rolled out the 2007-2008 Explorers for the public to see this afternoon. Amid one of the better crowds seen at what has become an annual event, it was a chance for fans to get a look at the new Explorers. New additions Kyle Griffin, Jerrell and Terrell Williams, and Darryl Partin were on hand but the buzz in Tom Gola Arena was attributable to the new Explorer man-child, Vernon Goodridge.

Goodridge, the 6"9 transfer from Mississippi State looked as a good as advertised. He showed a variety of post moves and strong rebounding as well as good quickness for a player of his size. Goodridge is a BCS player, plain and simple. He is thick and strong and was the focal point of the half court offense run by the team. Explorer fans will have to wait for Goodridge as he must sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules. Still he should be worth waiting for and will give La Salle a real post presence next season.

Kyle Griffin showed his smooth stroke and heady play for the crowd. He drained his first two three point shots hitting nothing but net on both shots. He then took a charge playing 5 on 5 and was kneed in the thigh but came back to practice after a short rest. He ran the point and should see time there this season.

Jerrell Williams and Terrell Williams displayed a medium range outside game on offense not seen before by many. Jerrell showed a nice stroke on the foul line and both defended well and received praise from Giannini on separate occasions. Both players were energetic as advertised and were in fact a little overzealous on a play where they double-teamed Goodridge with the ball and then fouling him where they were then pulled aside by Giannini and told they did everything well until they fouled to put Goodridge on the line. Like all freshman much teaching remains for the entire La Salle freshmen class.

Returning players had a chance to show where they are a year further into the program. Rodney Green got a lot of time at the point and made a nice baseline jumper following a miss. Overall Green didn't shoot the ball well but was very active as usual. Yves Mbala had some nice finishing moves and moved his perimeter game further out. Paul Johnson was extremely active. Johnson looks like he added some bulk to his frame and still attacks the glass better than everyone except Green with his slashing. Kimmani Barrett showed he has worked hard over the summer on his shooting draining a couple of deep jumpers as well as a spectacular finishing move around Goodridge. Darnell Harris played his usual offensive game drilling jumpers when he had the opportunity. He also received praise from Giannini helping defensively down low on the blocks forcing a turnover. Giannini then told the team he was their best post defender. Sherman Diaz played well as he usually does in practice. Will that translate to more playing time this season?

The biggest surprise of the afternoon was an appearance by Tom Gola. It was the first public appearance by Gola at La Salle in some time. He drew a terrific ovation from the crowd as they saluted one of the greatest college basketball players in history.

Cove Nuggets : Ruben Guillandeaux and Darryl Partin both sat out the practice with Guillandeaux sititng out his third consecutive day. Neither player's injury is considered serious. La Salle also has a new walk-on. Steve Weingarten comes to La Salle from Division III Connecticut College. The next two weeks are important ones for recruiting. La Salle will have one of their top targets on campus next weekend while three to four recruits may announce their attentions. More recruiting information will be forthcoming this week.

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