Former UMaine Mens Basketball Coach Dr. John Giainnini is into the “big dance” for the first time in his coaching career, After winning a national D3 championship at Rowan College in 2003 he spent 9 years (1995-2004)at UMaine going 125-111 for a 51% winning percentage. He also got to the finals of the AE East Tourney twice and his last two years he had seasons of 20-7 and 24-7 which lead to his getting the job at LaSalle.
After nine seasons at the Explorers he has finally made the “big dance” the hard way by having to win a 13 seed playoff game against 13th Boise State 80-71, upset 12th seeded Kansas State 63-61 and then in a second round game upset defeat 12th seeded Mississippi 76-74.
Now they meet another upset minded team who defeated number 1 ranked Gonzaga, the 9th seeded WITCHITA STATE SHOCKERS, who upset 8th seeded Pittsburgh in the opening round game.
LaSalle is shooting 42% from the floor, 26.8% from 3 point land and 73.2% from the foul limne. They averaged 15.1 assists per game to 11.9 turnovers per game along with committing 18.7 personnel fouls per game.
Their leading scorer is Ramon Galloway a 6’3″ senior forward who averages 17,4 ppg, Terek Duren, a 6’0″ juniuor backcourter who is averaging 14.5 ppg, Tyrone Garland another 6’1″ junior backcourter averaging 12.8 points per game, and 6’8″ sopomore front courter, Terell Wright averaging 10.7 per game.
This certainly shows a well-balanced offensive scoring attack with 4 players averaging double figures. They have some depth as 7 players have averaged over 24 minutes of playing time per game.
A key in the game will be how well LaSalle defends the 3 point shooting of Witchita Stateand how well WS shoots the 3. Inupsetting number 1 Gonzaga they shot 14 for 28 for 50%, but in their game against Pitt in the opening round they were lucky to win as they shot just 2 for 20 for 10% in just getting by the Panthers.
The question is, which Shocker team is going to show up and how well is it going to shock LS by the success or failure of their ability to hit the 3’s on reguala and timely basis.
LaSalle plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference where they finished at 11-5 in 3 way tie for third place. They lost to Butler 69-58 in the quarter-finals of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, but on the strength of their regular season schedule as they finished 10-3 it earned them tat 13th seed playin game against Boise State.
They are the only one of the 8 playin teams that is going to the “sweet sixteen”.
Many Maine Fans certainly should have a big interest in this game as current Maine Head Coach Ted Woodward was Dr. J.’s assistant coach at Maine until he took over the head job at Maine the year after Coach G. left for LaSalle.
LaSalle has certainly been hiding over the years since in the 50’s when 6’9″All-American lst Teamer Tom Gola lead the Explorers to a national championship and another final four appearance before going on to play in the NBA.
Good luck to Coach G and his Maine connection in their next game as they strive to reach the “elite eight”.