La Salle wouldn't be in the NCAA tournament without Tyreek Duren.
They would be close. But not in.
"You need outstanding players who are outstanding people and that's how I feel about Tyreek," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "Tyreek can play for anyone in the country. When we recruited Tyreek, I knew it was a huge step toward getting to the NCAA tournament."
That goal was reached this past Sunday when La Salle landed in the Big Dance with a first-round match-up against Boise State. The winner draws No. 4 Kansas State.
Duren was a star at Neumann-Goretti, but not recruited on a national level. La Salle, Temple and Massachusetts showed the most interest. Other than that, hardly anything. Why?
"I have no idea," said Duren. "I felt a bit overlooked and kind of came in with a bit of a chip on my shoulder, with something to prove. I've used that as motivation. If I had gone somewhere else, I might not have played right away. I am thrilled I made the choice to come here."
Duren has been mentioned as the best player in the city. Not bad for a player who was overlooked by so many.
"I'm honored people would think that of me," Duren said. "I'm just out there playing and doing what I've always done on the court. I'm so glad we're in the NCAA tournament."
His teammates are completely in his corner.
"Tyreek just gets it done on a consistent basis and, seeing it in practice, we know what he can do," said guard Tyrone Garland. "We have come together all season as a team, but without Tyreek, I don't know if we're dancing."
Inside the matchup
No. 13 La Salle (21-9) vs. No. 13 Boise St. (21-10), today (9:10 p.m., truTV), Dayton, Ohio
La Salle » Did you know? Today marks the 59th anniversary of La Salle winning the 1954 national
championship game ... Last time out: La Salle fell to Butler, 69-58, in the A-10 quarterfinals ... Who to watch: Tyreek Duren (15.0 ppg), Ramon Galloway (17.0 ppg)
Boise St. » Did you know? Rank first in MWC in scoring (73.3 ppg) and 13th nationally in 3-point percentage (.391) ... Last time out: Fell to San Diego St., 73-67, in Mountain West quarters ... Who to watch: Anthony Drmic (17.3 ppg), Derrick Marks (16.3 ppg)