FOR LA SALLE, BIGS LIKE STEVE ZACK ARE KEY TO SUCCESS IN 2014-15

2013-14 Record: 15-16, 7-9
2013-14 Postseason: None
Coach: John Giannini
Coach Record: 158-154 at La Salle, 283-265 overall

By Harry Allison

For the past three seasons, La Salle has been dominated by guard play. The Explorers have had a guard lead their team in scoring each of the last three seasons, as Earl Pettis, Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren all averaged over 15 points per game to close out their careers over the last three seasons, respectively.

That will likely change this season. La Salle loses all three starting guards from 2013-2014, paving the way for the frontcourt to shine in 2014-15. Forward Jerrell Wright and center Stave Zack return after very productive junior seasons. Wright was second on the team in scoring last season, averaging 13.3 points per game, while Zack nearly averaged a double-double, averaging 8.8 points and 9.5 rebounds. They will be relied on heavily this season, as coach John Giannini looks to find replacements in the backcourt.

Who’s Out:
La Salle was hit hard by graduation, even though only four players depart. Tyreek Duren, Sam Mills and Tyrone Garland were instrumental in the Explorers program, playing key roles on the 2012-13 team that made it to the Sweet 16, the schools first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 1992. Last season, all three were work-horses for La Salle. Duren averaged 36.32 minutes per game, while Mills averaged 31.3 and Garland averaged 29.5. Duren and Mills, both shot over 40 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line, averaging 15.2 and 7.6 points per game respectively. Garland added 12.5 points per game. Departing along with them is a fourth guard, Taylor Dunn. Dunn ,played in 23 games, starting two, averaging 1.3 points per game in his final season as an Explorer.

Who’s In:
Giannini has found instant success by bringing in transfers at the guard positions, and he will look to continue the trend this season. Cleon Roberts and Jordan Price, a pair of 6-foot-5 sophomores, will look to have an immediate impact and replace the lost backcourt production. Roberts averaged 8.6 points per game as a freshman at Georgia Southern, while Price averaged 5.4 points per game in his lone season at Auburn. Local product Amar Stukes will look to join Roberts and Price in making an impact after redshirting in his first season on campus. Stukes averaged nearly 20 points per game as a high school senior, earning All-City honors. Rounding out the newcomers will be a pair of incoming freshmen. Yevgen Sakhniuk, a member of the Ukraine U-20 national team, is a small forward who could step into a frontcourt role early in his career due to his scoring and rebounding ability, while guard Johnnie Shuler could see time at point guard in his debut season.

Who to Watch:
It will be crucial for La Salle to find replacements at the guard spots. There are some talented newcomers, but they will have to battle the returnees for playing time. D.J. Peterson is back for his senior season and should slide in on the wing after averaging 4.4 points per game last season, and Khalid Lewis figures to see an increased role after averaging 3.0 points per game. The real problem will be finding a point guard. La Salle has four on their roster, but none have seen much playing time over their careers. This could force Giannini to play an off guard, likely Khalid Lewis, at the point. O.J. Lewis and Hank Davis will look to see some of the time at the point, but they played a combined 16 minutes last season. Rounding out the group will be wing Rohan Brown and centers Jermaine Davis and Tony Washington. Brown saw the most extensive playing time last season, averaging 2.0 points per game in just under ten minutes a contest.

Final Projection:
Giannini is looking to get La Salle back into the tournament this season, but that could be a tough task with this roster. The frontcourt is solid with Zack and Wright, but there are so many questions in the backcourt. Things bode well for La Sale in the future, as the Explorers have a lot of young talent at the guard position. Coming off a year where La Salle greatly under achieved, Giannini will look to turn things around. To do so, Zack and Wright must have big senior seasons and a couple players must step up in the backcourt, especially at point guard. This season will likely come down to the production of the young guards for the Explorers. Price and Roberts will both be key. They had solid freshmen seasons at their previous schools, but they need to take that extra step for La Salle.

Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT

Projected Starting Five:
Khalid Lewis, Junior, Guard, 3.0 points per game
Jordan Price, Sophomore, Guard, DNP last season
D.J. Anderson, Senior, Guard, 4.4 points per game
Jerrell Wright, Senior, Forward, 13.3 points per game
Steve Zack, Senior, Forward, 8.8 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 67.7 (258th in nation, 12th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.4 (125, 8)
Field-Goal Percentage: 41.3 (303, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.6 (172, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.7 (223, 7)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.5 (240, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.8 (144, 4)
Rebound Margin: 0.0 (192, 11)
Assists Per Game: 12.4 (194, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.6 (108, 4)

 

 

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