La Salle players bask in the Sweet 16 limelight

Hang time: La Salle players greet fans after practice at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Explorers spent part of Wednesday's practice dunking.
Hang time: La Salle players greet fans after practice at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Explorers spent part of Wednesday's practice dunking. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 29, 2013

LOS ANGELES - Florida Gulf Coast has been snatching up the Cinderella headlines in this NCAA tournament. La Salle's players were asked at a news conference Wednesday whether the Explorers were getting enough national attention.

The Explorers sniffed out the no-respect story line and took it on a fastbreak the other way.

"If we keep winning, we'll end up getting the national spotlight," Explorers point guard Tyreek Duren said. "But as far as that goes, I think we have enough shine in the city of Philadelphia. . . . That's enough for me. I don't care about national spotlight."

Duren and fellow Philly-bred guards Ramon Galloway and Tyrone Garland shared the podium and charmed the masses. This group that danced and chanted "All we do is turn up" on Selection Sunday isn't going to freeze up now. Duren set the tone as soon as he sat down, grabbing a microphone close and offering a five-second hip-hop beat.

Asked what state their Sweet 16 opponent Wichita State was located in, the Philly guys played it for deadpan comedy.

"No, I don't know," Galloway said.

"No, I've never been to Wichita," Duren said.

"I saw a store down here called 'Which Wich,' " Garland offered, mentioning a California sandwich chain.

Walking out, Duren asked the woman transcribing the interview what she'd been doing, typing everything, keeping her head up.

"I was watching her the whole time," Duren said. "I'd never seen that."

"You want her job?" Galloway said.

Asked in the locker room about the craziness that has ensued this week, Garland said he could really see it on Twitter, where he also has the stage after his Southwest Philly Floater against Mississippi pushed La Salle into the Sweet 16.

Among Garland's Twitter posts: "Can i get a RT for the #SouthwestPhillyFloater in Maine? . . . Can I get a retweet for droppin the Southwest Philly Floater in Iowa?"

Two days ago, talk show host Jim Rome tweeted, "#SouthwestPhillyFloater" - keeping it simple.

Garland retweets them all.

Garland even knows how to play the Twitter sage (for laughs): Somebody wanted to know where to get a taco in West Philly at 2 a.m. At that hour, better hit McDonald's or get Chinese, Garland suggested.

Garland also had passed along this from @ZodiacFact about Leos, one of which he must be: "Like the sun everything you touch is hot."

NCAA teams do their real practicing away from the public workouts, so the Explorers spent the last 20 minutes of their Staples Center hour working on dunks, successful and otherwise. Galloway is going to be in a slam-dunk contest next weekend at the Final Four (unless he is playing in the Final Four), so he and Duren worked on some routines.

"Those weren't game-time dunks," Galloway said. "You can't make dunks when you're throwing them off the side of the backboard in a game."

The Philly guys were all conscious of practicing in Kobe Bryant's house. None had met him, they said, or even his father, Joe "Jelly Bean" Bryant, himself an Explorers great.

The closest connection: "I broke his scoring record in high school," Garland said, pointing out that he shared a Bartram alma mater with Joe Bryant.

Another popular line of questioning was about defining Philly players. They talked about being tough and fearless, ready to take on anybody. It has been documented that Garland's Ole Miss game-winner (among other Garland moves) came straight from the playground.

"Anywhere we go, we have that Philly swag with us," Garland pointed out.


Contact Mike Jensen at mjensen@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @jensenoffcampus.

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