Tale of the Tip
*National rank in parentheses, out of 347 teams
La Salle 72.4 (60), BOISE STATE 73.3 (46)
La Salle 66.0 (167), BOISE STATE 65.0 (131)
La Salle, -3.0 (278), BOISE STATE +4.2 (55)
LA SALLE +3.2 (21), Boise State +1.5 (88)
La Salle 44.8 (92), BOISE STATE 45.9 (53)
La Salle 37.1 (51), BOISE STATE 39.1 (13)
La Salle 73.8 (39), BOISE STATE 75.0 (23)
DAYTON, Ohio – They’re not quite identical, but they’re close enough. They’re so comparable that both coaches talked about how much their personnel and styles resemble each other.
When No. 13 La Salle faces No. 13 Boise State in the NCAA tournament’s first-round/play-in game on Wednesday night at UD Arena, you’re likely to see two guard-heavy offenses that look a lot alike.
“Our opponent is not only outstanding, but they’re very similar to ourselves,” La Salle head coach John Giannini said. “I can’t remember another game I’ve coached in where I was as surprised at the high level of similarity. They play four guards. They can all dribble, pass and shoot. The big guys are tough, play down low and set screens. That’s the way we play.”
The likeness between the two teams is striking. La Salle (21-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10) averages 72.4 points; Boise State (21-10, 9-7 Mountain West) averages 73.3 points. The Explorers surrender 66 points per game while the Broncos give up 65. La Salle shoots 44.8 percent from the field, 37.1 percent from three-point range and 73.8 percent from the line. Boise State shoots 45.9 percent, 39.1 percent and 75 percent in those respective categories.
Both teams share the ball -– La Salle averages 14.4 assists, while Boise State averages 13.2 –- and both enter the tournament having lost two of its last three games.
And, as Broncos head coach Leon Rice noted, “both teams are really, really reliant on all our guards. We both play a lot of guards.”
La Salle starts four guards: Sophomore D.J. Peterson (4.1 ppg, 1.5 apg), junior Sam Mills (7.7 ppg, 2.3 apg), junior Tyreek Duren (15 ppg, 3.3 apg) and senior Ramon Galloway (17 ppg, 3.8 apg). Galloway was named first team Atlantic 10, while Duren was selected to the second team. The Explorers mix in junior guard Tyrone Garland (12.9 ppg, 2.0 apg) off the bench as well.
Boise State also starts four guards, three of whom -– sophomore Anthony Drmic (17.3 ppg, 2.4 apg), sophomore Derrick Marks (16.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) and junior Jeff Elorriaga (10.3 ppg, 2.1 apg) -- combined to form the highest scoring trio in the Mountain West Conference.
Giannini said that preparing for a team that does so many of the same things as your squad is “easier because you’re definitely comfortable with what you’re seeing because you’ve gone against it in practice all the time.”
“They play four guards, sometimes five, just like us, and pretty much they shoot a lot of threes,” Duren said. “That’s all we’ve been really talking about. It’s probably going to come down to one-on-one battles."