La Salle was 18-13 in 2008-09. The 2009-10 season was where all the work was going to pay off. Coach John Giannini had four seniors on his roster. Somewhere during the season, all were going to be 1,000-point scorers and, by season's end, the Explorers were going to be in their first postseason tournament since 1992.
That was the plan.
The plan was altered when three of the four seniors were injured and missed most of or substantial parts of the season. First, Ruben Guillandeaux. Then, Kimmani Barrett and, finally, Yves Mekongo.
La Salle finished 12-18. The record was not a reflection of the progress that had been made. Sometimes, the record is all that matters. Sometimes, not.
It was announced via news release yesterday that La Salle and Giannini, have reached "a multiyear agreement that could keep Dr. John as the Explorers' coach for years to come."
Giannini's first season at 20th and Olney was 2004-05. After the team went 18-10 in his second season, he signed a contract extension that took him through 2010-11. Now there is this new deal, which was not specific about how long "years to come" might be.
"I appreciate the opportunity that [university] President [Michael J.] McGinniss and [athletic director Dr. [Tom] Brennan have afforded me," Giannini said in the news release. "We have a very talented group of young men in our program, a strong returning group and some very highly regarded newcomers. Our immediate goal is to be selected for a postseason tournament. Quite frankly, I cannot wait for the new season to begin. We plan to make the La Salle family proud."
La Salle is 83-97 in Giannini's six seasons. In 21 seasons as a head coach, Giannini is 380-246. He had tremendous success at Division III Rowan, winning the national championship in his final season, 1995-96. He spent eight seasons at Maine, winning 20 games twice and 19 games once.
Giannini has had just two winning seasons at La Salle. But that needs a context. Prior to his arrival, there had been no winning seasons since 1992-93, the season after La Salle left the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, a league it dominated from 1987 to 1992.
One could make a very strong case that the program has never recovered from leaving the MAAC. If it is doable, Giannini will now have more time to try to do it.
After a 20-loss season, everyone knew changes were coming in Hawk Hill. Two sophomores transferred earlier. Temi Adebayo is going to Philadelphia University and A.J. Rogers is going to Norfolk State.