Q&A with Coach Giannini

With the new basketball season rapidly approaching, La Salle Explorer head coach Dr. John Giannini took a few moments to answer a variety of questions and reflect on last season, what is to be expected this season, and the future of the basketball program.

Q: How do you reflect on your first three seasons at La Salle?

A: Three years ago I was hired the week before school started. It was not only impossible to recruit anyone in year one, but we were extremely behind in recruiting for the following year. I had been recruiting for Maine all summer and spent the fall recruiting period hiring a staff and learning about my new team and job. So, it was not until my second year that we got a full year to recruit which means our third year (2006-07) was the first time we were able to add a true recruiting class. We coached the players we initially inherited for the first two years and got them considerably better (3rd place in the A10). Last year was the first chance to coach a very new team with five freshmen in our top eight. The building just began. However, with an off-season of very hard work, more experience, and a second strong recruiting class I expect significant improvement this year.

Q: What are the team goals for the 2007-08 season?

A: We always have the NCAA tournament as our most important goal, but there are steps we must take to get there. First, we want to hit 16 wins which insures a winning season. Then we want to get to 20 wins and hopefully beyond to get consideration on selection Sunday. It is a step by step process.

Q: With two full recruiting classes under your belt do you feel as though the current team is now built to achieve your determined goals?

A: We have a young, deep and talented team that has the core group to get us to the NCAA tournament. We need to continue to improve and add impact players with size in the post. Vernon Goodridge, who will play for us next year is one of these key additions to our core group. In time, many of the players we have can be part of an NCAA tournament team.

Q: How much progress do you think the team made during the off-season?

A:We have made significant progress. If we stay healthy, you will see a number of improved players in terms of shooting, individual defense and strength. We all want the season to come so we can stop explaining the work we have put in and actually demonstrate the improvement.

Q: What are some of the key factors that will determine the success of the team in 2007-08?

A: Getting off to a good start to build a good record and confidence and staying healthy are the keys to me. If we avoid any bad games early and have all or most of our talent on the floor, we can win this year.

Q: As a group, how would you rate the progress of the freshman as the 2007-08 season progressed?

A: We progressed well, but it didn't result in the wins we wanted. Let me explain that. I thought our team of mostly freshmen played poorly in November and December because they did not fully understand the intensity of practice, games or preparation at this level. Once they "got it" you can see that players like Kimmani and Ruben actually played better in the A10 than they did earlier. Yves remained consistent and Rodney was an All A-10 Rookie selection. The problem was that as they got better, the schedule got tougher in conference and even though we were competitive playing against veteran, established A-10 programs it did not result in enough wins. So they did progress on the individual level, but it didn't show in team results…..yet.

Q: Now that you have seen success at La Salle and been able to build your own roster has recruiting becoming easier and what are you main sales points when recruiting a player?

A: First, we expect to be very good in the near future. For example, recruits coming in '08 will join an experienced and deep roster dominated by sophomores and juniors and we add a very talented big man in Vernon. So, we sell that we are going to win. We sell that the La Salle community is truly unique with a family atmosphere and the Christian Brothers commitment to the individual student's growth. We sell Philly. We sell our schedule ('08-'09 includes the A-10, Big 5, Florida State and the Virgin Islands tournament with UConn, Wisconsin and Miami). We sell the tradition of 23 NBA players, 3 National Players of the Year, an NCAA Championship, and 11 NCAA tournaments. We just have to bring that tradition back.

ExplorerHoopReport.com would like to thank Dr. John Giannini and La Salle Director of Athletic Communications, Kale Beers for their cooperation and allowing our readers the first public access to their Q&A session.