By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – After an up-and-down, 3-4 start, the La Salle Explorers have picked up back-to-back wins.
Last time out on Saturday, they rallied to beat Stony Brook in New York City at the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival, 65-57.
“I do think we’re starting to play better,” La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini tells KYW Newsradio. “Most importantly, I think we have to get Tyreek Duren’s health and play (dealing with a foot issue) back to 100%, and that’s heading in the right way. Our training staff has done a great job with him and he’s starting to look better. I think Tyrone Garland’s coming around after not a great start. And I think our team as a whole is starting to work through our individual issues and starting to play better.”
La Salle is getting really good production out of big men Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack so far this season. Wright, a 6’8″ junior, is third on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game, and coming off a season-high 21 point performance in that Stony Brook win. Zack, a 6’11” junior, is nearly averaging a double-double, pouring in 10.2 points and pulling down a team-high 9.3 rebounds a game.
“They’re good kids, good players and hard workers,” Giannini says. “So we’re not surprised that Steve and Jerrell are playing extremely well and getting better all the time.”
Next up for the Explorers, a tough Big 5 match-up at the Pavilion on Sunday against #10 Villanova. Giannini says it is not hard to see why the 9-0 Wildcats are having so much success.
“You don’t go undefeated and get to #10 in the country and beat people like Kansas and Iowa and play great at St. Joe’s without a lot of people doing a great job,” Giannini says. “If you look at their stat sheet, they’re deep, they have a lot of people playing well. They are good defensively. They are shooting the three well. Their rebounding margin is very, very high. Their turnover margin is very high. So no matter how you slice it, they’ve been outplaying some pretty good teams.”
La Salle beat the Wildcats last season at Gola Arena, 77-74.
Saturday’s game on the Main Line tips-off at 2:30pm.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.