After finishing his maiden season at Dayton last year, coach Archie Miller began sizing up not only what he had coming back, but also what other Atlantic 10 teams had in the way of returning players.
La Salle, which hosts UD tonight, may not possess one of the glitzier names in the league or pump many resources into the program (anyone been to Gola Arena?), but Miller figured the unheralded Explorers would be one of the better teams in the conference.
Junior Tyreek Duren, who has 998 career points, was an A-10 all-rookie pick as a freshman and established himself as one of the top point guards in the league last season. And running mate and fellow Philadelphia native Ramon Galloway was a second-team all-conference pick a year ago.
“To me, one of my favorite teams to watch last year was La Salle, and that kind of starts with their guard play,” Miller said. “Tyreek is one of the most underrated guards in the nation. I don’t think he gets nearly as much praise for what he’s done for their team. When you add Galloway into the mix with that, he’s another guy who, quite frankly, is very, very undervalued.
“Their style is tough. Their speed and shooting is great. Watching them last year and coming into this year, I knew they’d be one of the most impressive teams in our league.”
The perimeter-oriented Explorers finished 21-13 and made the NIT last season, losing a first-round game at Minnesota. They gave the Flyers fits at UD Arena before losing their fourth straight game in the series, 79-75.
Duren averages 15.1 points, while Galloway is second in the league with 17.1 average.
“We like guards who dribble, pass and shoot — guys who can make plays and make shots. And we think we have a number of guys like that,” said La Salle coach John Giannini, who starts four perimeter players.
“Tyreek is a pure point guard. He makes great decisions. He’s that complete kind of guard that makes teams really good and is the kind we want. … When a guy can shoot and pass and make good decisions, he’s a very special player, and that’s what I think Tyreek is.”
Galloway has been hampered by a leg injury and played only 14 minutes in a 71-59 win over Richmond on Saturday.
“It’s a muscle strain,” Giannini said. “It really affected him in the Richmond game. He just didn’t have the ability to explode at all.
“We’re going to take it easy. We’re not going to test him too harshly (in practice). … He can play and he will play. We just hope he’s much closer to 100 percent than what he was against Richmond.”