La Salle disappointed in NIT opener

The 20-year wait is over. The goal moving ahead is to take the next step.

For
the first time since qualifying for the NCAA Tournament after the
1991-92 season, the La Salle Explorers participated in the postseason.
OK, so they lost 70-61 to Minnesota in the NIT Wednesday night at Tom
Gola Arena.

They made some major progress, won 21 games (21-13) and had the most victories since a 30-2 mark in 1990.
 
When
La Salle was eliminated by Saint Louis in the quarterfinals of the
Atlantic-10 tournament, the NIT seemed questionable at best. But the NIT
committee gave the Explorers a coveted bid.

“I’m a
traditionalist and if you don’t make the NCAA or the NIT, I don’t know
the attractiveness of continuing the season,” La Salle coach John
Giannini said. “To be in the NIT is great, it shows that you are close
to the NCAA Tournament. Again, the company you have in the NIT is
tremendous.

“Minnesota is a great program and for us to compete
against them is a real positive thing for us. You said it’s a step for
our program and while every team wants to be in the NCAA Tournament, we
real had some weaknesses exposed.”

When you’ve waited for 20
years, the journey back to the NCAAs must start somewhere. Clearly, the
Explorers are heading in the proper direction.

“This is something
that we can learn from,” Giannini said. “It is not a shame to play
poorly, but it is a shame not to do anything about it. We need to learn
from this and step forward, and I think our players are really excited
about it. I think they are capable of taking another step, I expect them
to take another step and I think after (the loss), they will be more
motivated to take another step.”



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