By Ed Benkin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Last year, the LaSalle Men’s Basketball squad earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. This year, LaSalle is hoping to play in a bigger tournament in March.

LaSalle won 21 games last season and will have four starters returning in 2012-13. Head Coach Dr. John Giannini believes his team can build on its success from a year ago.

“The LaSalle community really enjoyed our team last year,” said Giannini. “There was a nice sense of excitement. Moving forward, we have almost everyone back, so I think our players are motivated to build on last year’s success.”

Two of the starters returning will be the dynamic duo in the backcourt of point guard Tyreek Duren (Second Team All-Big 5 selection) and Ramon Galloway (14.1 ppg.). Duren says he’s ready to face the high expectations for his team this season.

“I think everybody is expecting big things this year,” Duren said. “We promised everyone we would try to make the [NCAA] Tournament last year. This year, we want to live up to that.”

With a host of players returning who played together last year, Giannini believes it will be easier for himself and the rest of the coaches when it comes to working with the players in practice.

“My experience is that teams who have proven players and experienced players tend to do very well,” said Giannini. “That’s the position we’re in right now. We can do more playing right now and don’t have to spend as much time teaching fundamentals to the returning guys.”

The Explorers were picked seventh in the preseason Atlantic 10 poll, and Giannini acknowledged the conference will be filled with talented teams. He also believes playing in the Big 5 will toughen the team for the rest of the 2012-13 campaign.

“There’s the most valuable in it as a measuring stick,” Giannini said. “I think history shows that if you’re the best team in Philadelphia, you are nationally relevant.”

The Explorers will open their season on November 10th with a home game against Delaware.

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