College basketball teams to begin practice

John Giannini
John Giannini
Posted: September 28, 2013

Many college basketball coaches may like the new rule that allows teams to begin preseason practice on Friday, about two weeks earlier than in past years.

La Salle coach John Giannini is not among them.

"I kind of like the way it was," said Giannini, whose Explorers advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season. "I know that we get more time with them, but they also give us more time in the summer. So I'm not sure we really needed more practice time.

"We're going to use the days that we're allowed, but we're not going to get into our normal practice routine until Oct. 11, which would be the normal start of practice. I think the season's long enough to begin with. I'm not sure it's great to make it longer."

All but one of the City Six teams start practice this weekend. (Penn starts next month, as guided by Ivy League rules.) Thanks to NCAA legislation passed in May, teams may conduct 30 practices in the next 42 days instead of the 24 practices in 30 days under the old rules.

Villanova and Drexel begin practice Friday, followed by St. Joseph's on Saturday, and Temple and La Salle on Monday.

Three local teams made the NCAA tournament last season. La Salle (24-10) survived a play-in game and won two in Kansas City, Mo., before losing in Los Angeles in the regional semifinals to Wichita State.

Temple (24-10) went 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, while Villanova (20-14) lost its first game.

Among the other teams, St. Joseph's (18-14) earned an NIT bid but was bounced in the first round. Drexel (13-18) and Penn (9-22) suffered through injury-plagued seasons.

Another change in NCAA rules allowed coaches to lead practices during the summer. Giannini said he liked the chance to drill his players in five-on-five situations, something that he doesn't like to do during the season when the schedule gets more difficult.

Still, he will be careful not to overdo practice sessions in the preseason.

"I think you can end up peaking a little early," he said. "I think you can end up getting bored, and I think the more you play, the more you have a chance of getting hurt. I think this is a veteran team that's highly motivated and we want to be ready [for the season opener] on Nov. 9, not Oct. 9."

Giannini likes the veteran makeup of his team. The Explorers lost one starter, but a key one in Ramon Galloway. The leadership will come from a trio of senior guards - Tyreek Duren, Tyrone Garland, and Sam Mills.

"We always talk about trying to not let external expectations or talk affect anything we do," he said. "We just want to do as well as we can whether someone thinks we're a great team or a bad team.

"I think it all comes down to staying healthy and winning close games. We're going to play a lot of good teams and those games are going to go down to the wire. Hopefully we'll find a way to win more than our share."


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