BY JOE FEDOROWICZ
I’m the kind of guy that will ask a divisive question just to see the responses it will illicit and there has been one that I’ve been posing over the last month or so to people:
Who was the better college player, Doug Overton or Tyreek Duren?
I was not old enough to see Overton play, so I am certainly not the person that would definitively be able to answer this question, and most that were of age will immediately remark that the better player was Overton, almost without hesitation. The question is a conversation starter and, in this case, a lede for a story that begs the question of how will Tyreek Duren be remembered when history is written.
“Overton interchangeably went from point to scorer. He played both point and lead guard in a way that it was hard to tell if he was truly a distributor or scorer,” said AJ Moore, a veteran sports journalism professor at Rider who attended La Salle. “Overton with Simmons was phenomenal. Overton without Simmons was outstanding.”
You couldn’t say that about Duren. The oft-quiet, soft-spoken Philly native does not have the bubbly personality of some of his teammates, like recently graduated Ramon Galloway. He was in a lot of press conferences, always saying the right thing but never offering more than he was asked. That was his style, both on the court and off. A quiet confidence.
“Duren is more a compliment player,” said a former La Salle player just below Duren in both assists and steals. “Overton could take over a game and be the main guy.”
That seems to be consensus answer, but Duren’s story is how an undersized guard from a powerhouse high school changed the arc of a program. With the team that John Giannini had when he got here, I’d consider these seniors the first real team with their coach’s stamp and while he is in his ninth year, it has been a long climb and Duren should be considered the cornerstone for the program’s recovery from the doldrums.
Without him, they probably never get to where they are today.
Duren’s spectacular career should not, and will not, be measured by his statistics. To look at stats in different eras is often a study of those eras, not so much of the individuals, but the similarities between him and Overton are there. Check them out below:
|Tyreek Duren||Doug Overton|
|Field Goal %||45.1%||48.6%|
Stats are prior to tonight’s game.
“Tyreek statistically is a guy that will get hall of fame recognition at La Salle and in the Big Five,” said coach John Giannini. “These guys, they will have won more games than anyone since the Lionel (Simmons) days. ”
Until this year, Duren would never have been considered the best option to score, and even then the honor might go to Jerrell Wright. Before this year it was Aaric Murray, or Earl Pettis or Galloway.
And while he always had another option, he still produced. If it wasn’t points, the Philly native would dish the ball to the tune of fourth on La Salle’s all-time lists. He could also grab a steal, amassing the third highest amount in program history. He was both reliable and durable, starting all buy three games in his career and never missing a night due to injury.
The cool, collective point guard always seemed to know where he was heading. At just 6-foot tall, and probably slightly under that mark, Duren was hardly an explosive athlete. Instead, he relied on deceiving quickness and an uncanny finishing ability. At the rim, there was few better than Duren. Not a dunker (I don’t know if he ever dunked in a game), his patented finish is some cross between finger-roll and layup, high arching and usually pretty true.
Nobody expects Duren to end up in the NBA. His #3 will not be hoisted to the rafters, and believe me Overton’s should and would go up first, but he will likely go down as one of the best point guards in both La Salle and Big Five history. He almost hit the game winner tonight, something he has done more times than not. It wasn’t meant to be, but with that killer smile he said after the game that he “thought it was good.”
Steve Kennedy chimed in with this tweet:
@JoeFedorowicz Explorer point guards: Doug Overton, Charlie Wise, Tyreek Duren.
— Steve Kennedy (@spk4444) March 7, 2014
Overton will probably stay at number one for now, but the debate after that will continue. One this is not questionable though, Tyreek Duren made his mark on this program, both on the record books and without. While it wasn’t his final game in a La Salle uniform, it is likely his final game in this building and having covered him for his entire career, it will be weird seeing someone else run the show next year.