I was approached by the fine folks at Philahoops.com for a Q&A session on the big basketball game tonight at the BJC. After I spit some hot takes on PSU Joe Fedorowicz, La Salle alum and hoops blogger, was willing to share his informative perspective on the Explorers.
Black Shoe Diaries: La Salle is coming off one of their best seasons in quite some time after making the Sweet 16 last March. What are the expectations for Dr. Giannini's team to follow up on such a successful season?
PhilaHoops: Expectations are at an all-time high. Having returned all but their best player from last season, this was a team that was built to succeed now. Their entire starting lineup has loads of experience and can score at a high rate. I don't think any La Salle fan is thinking Sweet 16 again, because that would be lofty expectations, but the thought is that they should make the tournament and anything less than that will be disappointing.
BSD: The scores from La Salle's first three games aren't impressive to say the least. What's been the cause of the Explorers' slow start to the year, or is it a sign of things to come?
PH: The Explorers just haven't shot very well. Last season, La Salle had a few front court players that were just lights out from deep to the tune of almost 38-percent. This season so far, they can't creep over 30-percent. This is still a team that can score, it has just been consistency. Where former leader Ramon Galloway would step up in those situations, the Explorers have just been able to sneak by.
BSD: There isn't much size on the La Salle roster, but the Explorers do have a couple seasoned veterans up front. What can you tell us about Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack and their roles on this team? Will they pose matchup problems for PSU's unproven frontcourt?
PH: For most of the last two seasons, Dr. John Giannini has been fine with letting his guards run the show and while this is still a guard-dominated attack, he has began the past three games by just dumping it down to his two big men. Wright might have the best left hand hook in the country and supposedly worked on his right, but he has fought foul trouble at times and been inefficient on the offensive end. Zack is a nice complement to the bruiser in Wright, not forcing many shots and being a good distributor on the interior. Lately, Giannini has been experimenting with his near seven-footer as an offensive option, begging defenses to pay more attention to him and less to the other players on the court.
BSD: As PSU saw last year, it seems Tyreek Duren is the biggest key to La Salle's offense. What are his biggest weaknesses and how can PSU exploit them?
PH: Duren's biggest weakness right now is his shooting. The senior is shooting just 36-percent from the floor, low for a player that makes his living on the break and at the rim. Many believe that Duren is one of the best point guards in the country and I agree, but he'll have to start hitting from outside to soften the interior. I'd expect Duren to play most of the game, so the best way to get to him is to make him work on the defensive end. He'll get his points and won't turn the ball over, but he can become stagnant.
BSD: What is your biggest key to the game on Tuesday?
PH: I think the biggest key of the game will be possessions. The Explorers were one of the better teams at turning their opponent over, but the change in rules and graduation of Galloway has softened their defense a bit. If they can generate some turnovers (and, in turn, some fast breaks), I think they'll run away with this one like last year. If this game is like the others, look for Frazier to get his and the Explorers to fall behind rather early.
Follow @BSDtweet on Twitter
And join us on Facebook
All BSD community members should review our current Posting & Commenting Policies before creating any posts or commenting.