Giannoni at peace with transfer to Chico
By Steve Yingling
Tribune sports editor
Successful programs and John Giannoni III have been synonymous throughout his basketball career, making him an authority on when to cut his losses.
Following a frustrating junior season at Portland State University that produced a mere five victories and revealed broken promises, the former standout South Tahoe High point guard began an earnest search for another program.
No matter where Giannoni resettled, he wasn’t going to endure another season like his 2002-03 season in Portland. To ensure his success, Giannoni stepped back in time and rejoined a couple of former high school teammates who know what it takes to win.
Relocating to California State University, Chico, allows Giannoni to finish out his collegiate career playing basketball with Andy Butcher and Travis McCollum, former STHS teammates.
“Chico was one of the first schools I thought about coming to because I knew Andy and Travis were down here and having a good time,” Giannoni said.
In one season under Heath Schroyer, Giannoni saw some tendencies creeping into his basketball existence that he had never seen before.
“To stay there another year being as optimistic as I was coming in, I didn’t want to take a chance of being optimistic … the biggest thing is having fun and being successful in terms of winning. I didn’t think that was going to happen at Portland State,” Giannoni said. “I felt I put in the work and time and that I was good enough to play anywhere in the country, no matter where it was. At (PSU) the people didn’t seem to care as much about winning and I just wanted finish out my collegiate career with and around people who wanted to win.”
Giannoni also lost trust in Schroyer.
“I felt got mistreated a bit. Coach said some things that turned out to be lies … that may not have been the way they were intended, but that’s the way they turned out,” Giannoni said.
The separation started when Schroyer recruited several transfers to play Giannoni’s position.
“One thing he said when he recruited me was that he’d bring them in after I graduated,” Giannoni said. “I wasn’t forced out by any means. I wasn’t running from any competition he brought in. I just didn’t want to play for someone dishonest.”
Schroyer chose not to comment on Giannoni’s reasons for leaving but was somewhat surprised by the 5-foot-10 guard’s transfer.
“I didn’t have a problem with John. He comes from a great basketball family and I wish him nothing but the best,” Schroyer said.
Prior to transferring to PSU, Giannoni played two seasons at Dixie Junior College, winning a national championship in 2001-02.
Giannoni could have played his final season immediately since the Wildcats are a Division II member. However, Giannoni decided that he could make his senior season less stressful by giving all of of his energy to academics for a year.
“It gives me an extra year to mature in the weight room, on basketball floor and as a person,” Giannoni said. “I’m excited about me being part of team next season and making the collegiate basketball experience everything I thought it could and would be.
The redshirt season also allows Giannoni to share the senior experience with McCollum and Butcher for a second time.
“When I sat back and thought about it, I realized that I’d be playing my last year this year and they’d have another year left,” he said.
Giannoni has no regrets about not finishing his career at the Division I level.
“Anything I’ve done with basketball I haven’t failed with any of it,” he said. “I reached my ultimate goal of playing Division I basketball. If it had been a different place, maybe things would have turned out differently. But I’ve moved forward and I’ll take the good out of it and it will make me stronger and better in the long run.”
Next year will mark the second time South Tahoe High has had three alums playing at Chico State this decade. McCollum, Butcher and Alan Case formed the first Viking triumvirate.
Smith’s system of keeping fresh players on the floor appeals to Giannoni.
“His system is really different than any I’ve been around,” Giannoni said. “He runs 10 to 11 off the bench … they bust their butts for three to five minutes and they are rotated out.”
Looks as if things in order for Giannoni to return his winning ways next season.
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