Back to basics for Giannini and La Salle

Tyreek Duren loses the ball against Penn's Conor Turley (left) and Jack Eggleston. Turnovers have been a problem for La Salle.
Tyreek Duren loses the ball against Penn's Conor Turley (left) and Jack Eggleston. Turnovers have been a problem for La Salle.
Posted: January 21, 2011

Anyone traveling through the city's Olney section Thursday probably heard some grunts and groans emanating from Tom Gola Arena.

After La Salle's eighth loss in 10 games Wednesday night, John Giannini, coach of the disappointing Explorers, indicated that the practice sessions for Saturday's Atlantic Ten Conference game at Rhode Island might leave his players with their tongues hanging out in exhaustion.

"I have to do a better job developing mental toughness and defensive ability," said Giannini, whose team is 0-4 in the A-10 and 8-11 overall. "I guess I have to go back to preseason-type practices to accomplish that. I guess I have to do a number of things."

Players compete for starting jobs during the preseason, and it's likely that will be the underlying theme of the practices.

It might serve Giannini well to give Steve Weingarten a crack at the starting lineup. Weingarten is a 6-foot-8 senior forward who may not have the talent of most of his teammates. But his play is marked by hustle and intelligence, and his will to excel may rub off on teammates.

Weingarten moved into the starting lineup late last season when a series of injuries depleted the roster. He averaged 10.1 points and 8.0 rebounds the final eight games of the season. The way things are going at La Salle, giving Weingarten a bigger role couldn't hurt.

Killer turnovers

Once again, poor defense nudged La Salle down the road to defeat in Wednesday's 88-71 loss to streaking Duquesne.

But the main problem was turnovers. The Explorers had a season-high 25, which led to 33 Duquesne points. La Salle had a 41-30 lead with 7 minutes, 23 seconds to play in the half, putting it on a pace to surpass 100 points. But that's when the turnovers really kicked in, and the Explorers managed only 30 points over the final 27:23. They simply gave away too many valuable possessions.

Amazingly, 6-8 senior Jerrell Williams had 10 turnovers. He also had 17 points and 10 rebounds, giving him a triple double he'd just as soon forget.

Free throws

The numbers don't lie: La Salle's defense is the worst in the A-10. The Explorers rank last among conference teams in points allowed (78.6) and shooting-percentage defense (45.3 percent).

"Scoring 71 points and shooting close to 45 percent can beat a lot of teams," Giannini said after the loss to Duquesne.

La Salle ranks 35th in the nation among 346 teams with an average of 77.5 points a game.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or


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