Duren and La Salle won't rest on laurels

CAPTION CORRECTION LaSalle head coach Dr. John Giannini, talks to Tyreek Duren during round two in NCAA Division Men's Basketball Championship at Sprint Center,Kansas City, MO. on Friday, March 22, 2013 ( RON CORTES / Staff Photographer )
CAPTION CORRECTION LaSalle head coach Dr. John Giannini, talks to Tyreek Duren during round two in NCAA Division Men's Basketball Championship at Sprint Center,Kansas City, MO. on Friday, March 22, 2013 ( RON CORTES / Staff Photographer )
Posted: November 07, 2013

Anybody who watches point guard Tyreek Duren just one time won't be able to fully appreciate what the La Salle senior brings to the court.

Even his coach says so.

Duren, a fourth-year starter, is like an acquired taste, according to La Salle coach John Giannini. A graduate of Neumann-Goretti, Duren plays with the toughness of a Philadelphia guard and has the confidence of a Philadelphia guard, but he isn't as brash as many of the fabled Philadelphia backcourt players.

He plays at his own controlled pace, which to the untrained eye might appear a bit lackadaisical.

"One time watching Tyreek Duren doesn't do him justice," Giannini said. "It didn't do justice even for me."

Giannini had initial reservations while recruiting Duren, wondering where the fire was. He soon found out.

"I had thought at first he was a little laid-back, and didn't know about his intensity," Giannini said. "Then I watched him against some of the best players in the country, and I realized he had tremendous poise and he was tremendously consistent."

Then Giannini discovered the most important trait.

"I saw that he played the same against any level of competition," the coach said. "It was an evaluation that happened over time, and the more you watch Tyreek, the more you realize how good he is."

Others have done the same. Duren, who averaged 14.3 points and 3.3 assists while driving the engine for La Salle's Sweet 16 team, was named a preseason first-team Atlantic Ten choice this year.

"He's terrific. I love Tyreek Duren," said Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart, whose team is the preseason A-10 favorite. "One thing I have always liked about Tyreek is that he is a true point guard. He gets his team in the offense and runs the show and communicates."

Duren communicates without being overly vocal. His fire burns, but he shows it in a different manner.

"Somebody told me that I have the same facial expression whether we are up 20 or down by 20," Duren said. "It's something I have always been able to carry since I started playing basketball."

And he isn't going to change.

"I am not an emotional guy as far as getting too up or too down," he said. "Some people go overboard, but with me I am at an even point the whole game."

Though Duren may not be as demonstrative as the so-called typical Philadelphia guard, he has a deep inner belief in his ability.

"I think every Philadelphia guard has that edge where they think they are better than the next guy, tougher than the next guy they are playing against," Duren said. "I think that really helps you."

Duren played a major role in La Salle's captivating run that ended with a 72-58 Sweet 16 loss to Wichita State in Los Angeles in March.

Included were three wild NCAA tournament wins: 80-71 over Boise State, 63-61 over Kansas State, and 76-74 over Mississippi.

Duren's best NCAA game came when he had 19 points, four rebounds, and two assists in the win over Ole Miss that vaulted the Explorers into the tournament's second week.

As much as he enjoyed the winning, along with the subsequent attention it brought the program, Duren has tunnel vision as he prepares for La Salle's opener Saturday against visiting Manhattan.

"Last year was great with everybody saying how proud they were of what we did for the program, getting to the Sweet 16," Duren said. "As far as players, we had to throw that out the window now because it's a whole new season, and we're trying to do it again."

And if history repeats itself, Duren will play a major role, willing his team to victory in his understated but much appreciated way.


La Salle at a Glance

Last year: 24-10; 11-5 in Atlantic Ten, tied for third place.

Coach: John Giannini, (143-138 in nine years at La Salle; 440-287 overall).

ROSTER

No.   Name   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Year   

0   Steve Zack   C   6-11   245   Jr.   

1   D.J. Peterson   G   6-5   190   Jr.   

2   Amar Stukes   G   6-2   180   Fr.   

3   Tyreek Duren   G   6-0   190   Sr.   

5   Taylor Dunn   G   6-2   205   R-Sr.   

10   Sam Mills   G   6-2   200   Sr.   

11   O.J. Lewis   G   6-0   170   So.   

21   Tyrone Garland   G   6-1   185   Sr.   

23   Khalid Lewis   G   6-3   195   R-So.   

25   Jerrell Wright   F   6-8   255   Jr.   

30   Jermaine Davis   C   6-9   280   R-Fr.   

35   Rohan Brown   G/F   6-6   225   R-So.   

SCHEDULE

November

9 Manhattan. . . 2

12 Quinnipiac. . . 9 a.m.

16 Siena. . . 3

19 at Penn State. . . 7

22 vs. Morgan State#. . . 9

23-24 Vanderbilt or

Providence#. . . 5 or 9

25 TBA#

December

4 Hartford. . . 7

7 vs. Stony Brook*. . . 11 a.m.

15 at Villanova. . . 2:30

19 Wagner. . . 7

22 at Miami. . . 7

January

4 at Penn. . . 7

9 George Washington. . . 8

12 at Duquesne. . . 2:30

15 Rhode Island. . . 7

18 Temple%. . . Noon

22 at St. Bonaventure. . . 9

25 Va. Commonwealth. . . Noon

29 at George Washington. . . 7

February

1 Duquesne. . . 4

5 at Massachusetts. . . 7

8 St. Louis. . . 5

15 St. Joseph's. . . 11 a.m.

19 at Dayton. . . 9

22 at Richmond. . . 4

26 St. Bonaventure. . . 7

March

1 at Fordham. . . 5

6 George Mason. . . 8

9 at St. Joseph's. . . 4

12-16 Atlantic Ten tournament (Barclays Center, Brooklyn)

Home games in bold.

# - Paradise Jam, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

* - Holiday Festival, Madison Square Garden

% - at the Palestra


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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