Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
The La Salle Explorers held a student-only practice in the Tom Gola Arena on Tuesday. A few hundred students showed up to see a practice up close and personal, and even got a pep talk from coach Dr. John Giannini.
The ninth-year head coach brought the students together before practice and gave them a history lesson about La Salle basketball, which included the history of the Big 5. Giannini also wanted the students to be high energy during drills and scrimmages.
“If you guys see a good defensive play, I want you to go bananas,” Giannini said. “When a man comes barreling down the lane, I want you all to yell ‘take it,’ because that’s what we want our players to do.”
Team managers held up signs with various words and sayings–including “Take it,” “Pressure,” and “Hit”–that Giannini wanted the students to yell.
(See Also: CoBL staff photographer Anson Marsh’s gallery of the event)
The energy continued as the team went through various 5-on-5 drills and eventually a series of full 5-on-5 scrimmages. It was a fast-paced scrimmage, which included some sloppy play that the coach attributed to playing in front of the student-only crowd.
“It is different,” Giannini said. “I thought we had a lot more bad shots and turnovers than we have been having in practice, I think they got a little bit exited, but that’s good to get out of your system.”
The players seemed to play with a sense of urgency in front of the fans. There was a lot of up and down the court, as well as pressing defense.
“It was nice,” said Garvin Hunt, who has not played a collegiate basketball game since 2009 at Penn. “It has been a while for me since I have been able to play in front of people, besides pick up and playing for fun. This kind of atmosphere and competition and having the fans see was nice.”
“It was really helpful because I haven’t really played in a year, so actually playing in front of people really helped,” said Rohan Brown, who redshirted his freshman year in 2011-2012. “It got all the butterflies out and it will help for me not to be nervous during the season.”
The La Salle team kicks off their preseason schedule against Carleton University (Canada) in less than three weeks. The Explorers take on the Ravens at home on November 2 at 7 p.m.