Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
Sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer rules is tough on any player. Not playing, and adjusting to a new team can be hard to overcome. It is even harder when you join your new team mid-season as Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland has. The La Salle guard played in his first game for the Explorers this past Saturday against Bucknell, but he is fitting right in among his teammates.
“(The adjustment) has been good,” Garland said. “The guys welcomed me with open arms. I am just a part of the team now, they want me to do the same things they do. They want me to look for my shot, just like they do.”
The sophomore guard transferred back to his hometown of Philadelphia midway through his sophomore season at Virginia Tech. He is the third all-time leading scorer in Philadelphia public league basketball history, putting him in the company of greats such as Wilt Chamberlain. Sitting out the first semester of the season was difficult for Garland, but he made it through, and will make an impact with the Explorers.
“It feels good,” Garland added. “It felt good to be out there with my team. It felt great to get back out on the floor and experience being in the game, and being in the game for a long time and being an important part of the team again.”
In his first game at Bucknell, Garland came off the bench and contributed nine points in 22 minutes. He was just 2-of-6 from the floor, but made five of his seven free throw attempts. La Salle lost the game 74-66, despite making a comeback from a 12 point halftime defect to cut the game to two.
“I think I played alright,” Garland said. “I could have been better. I think I could have been a little more aggressive than what I was, but I think because it was my first game out there I wasn’t trying to do too much. But I could have been better.”
Garland will look to get on track Thursday night against Iona. The Explorers (6-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10), take on the Gaels (5-4, 1-1 MAAC) at 7 p.m in the Tom Gola Arena on La Salle’s campus. Though Garland is known as a forward, he believes that his defense will help the Explorers in their next game.
“They have all guards, and we are trying to keep them out of the paint,” Garland said of Iona. “Thats all they want to do is drive and kick. They have a few guards that put the ball up and score a lot. We are just trying to stop them, and do what we do on the offensive end and the defensive end. Thats all coach G talks about is defensive now. We just want to play good defense against them and try to shut them down.”
Big Apple Buckets Q+A
John Templon, who is the founder of Big Apple Buckets (nycbuckets.com), gave City of Basketball Love some insight on the Gaels through a question and answer session.
AA: Does Iona’s 5-4 record really depict how good they are? All of their games have been close, what happens to them down the stretch?
JT: I don’t think Iona’s record depicts how good they are, but it probably does depict what Iona is right now – if that makes any sense. The Gaels are extremely talented but inconsistent right now. Iona will blow the doors off a team early and then hang on, or they’ll struggle down the stretch and give up big leads. There are a lot of moving pieces in the lineup still because of how many players graduated off of last season’s NCAA Tournament team and that’s caused some continuity issues and some defensive issues. They’re getting better. Iona is starting to win second halves, which is a good sign moving forward.
AA: Who is really the key piece for them after losing Scott Machado?
JT: Sean Armand and Lamont “Momo” Jones are Iona’s two best players now that Machado has graduated. Armand was just a shooter last season, because that’s all Iona really needed him to be. He was very good at it too. He really put the work in to diversify his game in the offseason and now can shoot, but also drive by opponents and hit mid-range jumpers. Jones is a transfer from Arizona and played off the ball last season with Machado running the point position. He’s now back on the ball sometimes and the results have been mixed. He’s more of a combo guard than the true point guard that Machado was. Jones is a gamer though and really athletic, so he’s a tough cover.
AA: What do you see out of Iona in the MAAC this year? The league seems wide open this year.
JT: The MAAC is a weird conference this season and I’m still not sure that I have a real feel for it. It certainly is wide open. Iona is one of the more talented teams in the league and thus definitely a contender. The MAAC schedule has the funny quirk of already playing a weekend in December and all but Canisius (2-0) and Siena (0-2) are 1-1 in the 10-team league. Canisius, Iona, Loyola (MD) look like the favorites right now, though Manhattan and Niagara certainly have the talent to climb back into the conference race. I don’t think Iona will win the MAAC, but they’ll get to 11 or 12 wins and I don’t know that more than one or two teams can say that. You might have a winner that goes something like 13-5 or even 12-6.
AA: Is there any other important info we should know about the Gaels?
JT: Iona is getting their own mid-season transfer for this game in big man David Laury. He should be able to help in the middle because the Gaels, one of the shortest teams in Division I, could certainly use some more size. Laury will provide that and should make Iona a more dynamic team moving forward. Also, Tavon Sledge is one of the fastest players I’ve ever seen with a basketball. He’ll be a good point guard for the Gaels moving forward. Finally, freshman A.J. English has been starting on the win lately and he’s really responded. He scored 17 points on 5-8 three-point shooting against Liberty on Tuesday night.