La Salle's backcourt was arguably already as good as any other in the Atlantic Ten. Tyrone Garland has made it even better.
Garland, a transfer from Virginia Tech who had to sit out the seven games played during the fall semester because of NCAA transfer rules, showed off his talent again in Saturday's 100-71 win over Sacred Heart. Making his first start with the Explorers and second of his collegiate career, Garland scored 12 points and dished out six assists.
Already with Ramon Galloway (18 points per game), Tyreek Duren (16.4), and Sam Mills, whom coach John Giannini called "one of the rocks" of the program, La Salle is just that much deeper with Garland.
"It opens more doors for you when you have better offensive players," Galloway said. "Having Tyrone is a blessing."
Garland's scoring prowess at Bartram High School (2,198 points) ranks him behind only Maureece Rice and Wilt Chamberlain in Philadelphia Public League history. He showed his ability to put the ball in the basket during Thursday's victory over Iona, setting a Tom Gola Arena record by scoring 26 points in his home debut. On Saturday, his six assists were second to Galloway's seven.
"He's here because I like him," Giannini said. "I wanted him out of high school. . . . I think he's a good player, and I think he should help us."
Garland has already begun to provide material for a La Salle basketball highlight tape, too. With just more than six minutes left in the first half on Saturday, the 6-foot-1 guard dribbled down the court with just one defender to beat. He made a nifty move to put the ball by his side and then drove past the defender for an impressive layup that drew large cheers from the crowd.
"That'd been a move I'd been doing in practice and all throughout my career,' he said. "I used to do it all the time in high school, but that's my first time doing it in a [college] game."
Then, with a smile, he added, "I want them to send it into ESPN."
Giannini doesn't look at his guards as specialists in one particular category. He wants them all to find the open man, make open shots, and take what the defense gives them. By simply having one more of them in Garland, the Explorers backcourt is that much harder to stop.
"What he does is he makes us that much deeper," Giannini said. "We're able to sustain a [sprained thumb] injury [to] Sam Mills and be fine. We're able to sub out and maintain our defensive intensity. He's no better or worse than the guys we have, but he's another really good player, and that in my opinion makes us a lot better."