Just like last season the La Salle Explorers got off to a slow start in non-conference play, and with that being the case the hope amongst the La Salle faithful is that this group will be able to duplicate the turnaround that resulted in a run to the Sweet 16. On Sunday afternoon Dr. John Giannini’s team moved to 2-0 in Atlantic 10 play with a 75-56 win at Duquesne, handing the Dukes their first conference defeat.
Tyreek Duren led the way offensively with 23 points and six assists, and forward Steve Zack posted his seventh double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. As a team La Salle shot 52.9% from the field and 10-for-22 from beyond the arc, with their shotmaking ability countering their 17 turnovers on the day.
By comparison Duquesne shot 35.8% from the field and 4-for-16 from three, and given how well the Explorers shot the Dukes were ill-equipped to making up that 18-point disadvantage from beyond the arc. Since losing at Miami the Explorers have won three straight games, and with the likes of Duren, Zack and Tyrone Garland (17 points on Sunday) they have the pieces needed to factor into the Atlantic 10 race.
La Salle center Steve Zack has been cleared to play for the Explorers in their Sweet 16 matchup with Wichita State on Thursday, almost four weeks after spraining his left foot in a win over Duquesne on March 2.
“If he can make a play here and there, can make a difference, it could help us,” La Salle coach John Giannini said, as reported by Philly.com.
According to the report, how much Zack plays is contingent on how he feels Thursday prior to the team’s tip off at approximately 10:20 p.m. ET.
Zack’s presence in the middle would be important for a La Salle team that is undersized on the whole and relies heavily on four key guards to play major minutes. Having Zack in the lineup alongside forward Jerrell Wright gives the Explorers a chance to match up better with the size that Wichita State will feature on the interior.
Zack stands at 6-10, which will be important in containing Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early, two of the driving forces behind the Shockers’ offensive and defensive attack. Hall and Early combined for 26 points and five blocks in Wichita State’s Round of 32 win over No. 1-seeded Gonzaga.
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_