The La Salle Explorers (9-22, 4-14) couldn’t have had a worse 2015-16 campaign, finishing dead last in the Atlantic 10 Conference in embarrassing fashion. They also suffered their worst loss, a 95-49 defeat to No. 13 Miami, in program history at the Palestra this past December.
Many fans had called for their coach, Dr. John Giannini, to be fired for the dreadful year he had, but the school has given him one more chance to prove himself with a more bolstered roster than a season ago.
New to the program are transfers Pookie Powell from Memphis, B.J. Johnson of Syracuse and Demetrius Henry of South Carolina. Sophomore guard Powell averaged 4.3 points and 2.7 assists as a freshman at Memphis while junior forward Johnson netted 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds as a sophomore for the Orange. Junior forward Henry notched 6.0 points and 3.6 rebounds as a sophomore for the Gamecocks.
They’ll create a balanced offense around senior guard Jordan Price (19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds), who finished third in the conference in scoring last season.
“Forget last year,” Giannini said. “It was the worst year of my coaching career. I expect better ball movement this year, and there isn’t much to compare from last year. We are competing harder in practice than any other team I have ever had.”
Price accounted for over a fourth of the team’s points last season, scoring 596 of the team’s 1,987 points on the year. In the team’s first exhibition game on Saturday, a 79-73 win over Canada’s Carleton University, Price led all scorers with 23 points, but Johnson was right behind scoring 18 points while grabbing 11 rebounds.
Price is happy about not having to shoulder as much of the scoring load this season.
“It’s great to have guys by your side that will fight with you every night,” Price said. “It’s not as much on me anymore, and I don’t have to do as much, so it’s great.”
Up first for La Salle is a Big 5 test against Temple on Friday. La Salle, who went 0-5 against Big 5 teams last season, has a lot to prove against their North Philly rivals this weekend.
Friday’s game will air at 7 p.m. on ESPNews.
G – Pookie Powell, F – B.J. Johnson, F – Demetrius Henry, G – Isiah Deas, G – Saul Phiri, C – Cian Sullivan
G – Rohan Brown (Graduated), G – Hank Davis (Graduated), G – O.J. Lewis (Graduated