Andrew Albert (@andrewjalbert01)
La Salle will end their 21 year NCAA tournament drought on Wednesday in Dayton. When the Explorers step on the court, years of anguish for people affiliated with La Salle University will melt away, and 40 minutes of basketball will remain. If the team, and the fanbase want to move on to face Kansas State in Kansas City, they will have to get by Boise State.
The Broncos went 21-10 on the season, including 9-7 in the ultra-competitive Mountain West Conference. They went 14-1 at home this season, 5-8 on the road and 2-1 on a neutral court. Their best win of the season came early in the season over 11 ranked Creighton, 83-70. They finished fifth in the MWC, and earned just their sixth NCAA tournament appearance.
These two teams are very similar in style. Both are guard heavy teams that shoot the ball well, and struggle on the glass. Individual match-ups will be very intriguing, and may tell the story of who wins and moved on to the second run.
Ramon Galloway (6-foot-3, 180) vs. Anthony Drmic (6-6, 196) : In the matchup of the team’s leading scorers, Galloway and Drmic have similar profiles. Both players average around 32 minutes a game, and around 17 points per game. Drmic has a better field goal percentage (46.1 percent) than Galloway (41.2 percent), but Galloway shoots the ball better from behind the arc than does Drmic (40.2 percent to 38.7 percent). There may be a trend that gives Drmic the advantage in this game. In his last three outings, the sophomore from Australia has scored 20, 23 and 22 points. Galloway has not been playing well of late, totaling just 12 points in his last two games.
Tyreek Duren (6-0, 185) vs. Derrick Marks (6-3, 206): These two dynamic guards also have similar statistics on the season, which makes their match up all the more interesting. Marks has been a good scorer for the Broncos all year, averaging 16 points per game. While Duren averages slightly less (15 points per game), he has been a workhorse for the Explorers, averaging just about 35 minutes per game. Marks and Duren have the same field goal percentage (46.4 percent), but Marks shoots the ball better from distance. While Marks may have shoot the ball better, Duren does not turn the ball over as much. Marks is more of an explosive scorer when he needs to be, but Duren is more consistent.
Sam Mills (6-2, 200) vs. Jeff Elorriaga (6-2, 180): Elorriaga has the clear edge statistically here. He is shooting around 45 percent from downtown, and 44 percent overall. He averaged 10.3 points per game and turns the ball over less than once per game. Mills, on the other hand, has struggled this year. He is shooting 35 percent from three-point range, and 39.8 percent from the field. He also takes care of the basketball, only turning the ball over 1.2 times a game. Mills and Elorriaga play similar amounts of minutes, and have similar assist and rebounding numbers. The edge in this one goes to Elorriaga, even though Mills plays spectacular defense.
D.J. Peterson (6-5, 190) vs. Igor Hadziomerovic (6-4, 202): In the wild card pairing of the day there are a pair of players that can contribute, but their stats do not really show it. Peterson is in a very reserved role, only being used on offense on less than 12 percent of possessions according to Ken Pomeroy. Hadziomerovic only scores 5.4 points per game, and does not shoot the ball consistently well (36.8 percent from the field, 26.2 percent from downtown). If either player can make a significant contribution to his team, it very well may pull them out in front.
Jerrell Wright (6-8, 240) vs. Ryan Watkins (6-9, 229): Watkins ranks first in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy in offensive rebounding percentage. He is the key to second chance points for Boise State. The 6-foot-8 La Salle forward can score in the post (10.9 points per game), but he is the best rebounder for La Salle. Boise State does not rebound the ball well, so they need to shut down Wright on the glass and in the paint if they want to win. The battle on the boards may be the deciding factor in the game, as La Salle big man Steve Zack is out with a foot injury. Watkins will be key in both defending Wright, and keeping the Explorers off the glass.
La Salle: Tyrone Garland, Rohan Brown, Garvin Hunt, Taylor Dunn
La Salle’s bench is not exactly what you would call deep. Garland is the most dangerous threat off the bench for the Explorers. He can score in bunches (averages 13 points a game off the bench) and is lightning quick in the open floor. Brown and Hunt are the rebounders off the bench. While neither of them have played substantial minutes thus far this year, the injury to Zack might spike minutes for Hunt. Dunn can shoot the ball well, but he rarely sees the floor. La Salle’s bench is bolstered by Garland, but the rest of the bench is very thin.
Boise State: Mikey Thompson, Thomas Bropleh, Kenny Buckner, Joe Hansted
The Broncos bench is where their rebounding comes from. Their two top rebounders come off the bench. Thompson has been a solid contributor to the Broncos squad, averaging 8.1 points per game. Buckner (5.1 rebounds per game) comes off the bench to grab boards for the undersized Broncos. Buckner may not score a lot of points, but he is extremely efficient from the field. He shoots around 63 percent despite only playing 18 minutes per game. Boise State’s ability to rebound from their bench players will have much to do with the outcome of the game.
Either way the game turns out, it seems, statistically, that the fans in Dayton and around the nation are in for a close game. All the major statistical categories are close between the teams, and it will translate to a close game on the court for the right to advance to the round of 64.