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TMC's Mr. Relentless

Posted: February 4, 2008 2:06 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2008 2:03 a.m.

The Masters' College forward Eric Durso, despite not being the prototypical height for a power forward, has been a rebounding machine for the Mustangs. He nearly averages a double-double with 15.4 points and nine rebounds.

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If you are on the same basketball court as Eric Durso, you might want to get out of the way.

Don't be deceived by The Masters College forward's 6-foot-4, 190-pound thin frame, or his laid back demeanor off the court.
If there's a rebound to be had, the former Mustangs walk-on is going to find a way to pull it down.
"Any ball I'm not absolutely sure is in my teammate's hands, I'm going after," the senior says.
Sometimes, even his fellow Mustangs are in danger.
"You might get stung a little bit when he's coming after the ball," said TMC head coach Chuck Martin. "He's ferocious in going and getting it."
Durso says playing safety in high school probably has something to do with his attitude on the boards. He was a two-way player for Grace Brethren in Simi Valley, playing quarterback as well.
But by playing safety, he learned a crucial thing about fumbles.
"It doesn't matter if your teammate is going after it," he says. "If there's a loose ball, it's yours."
That might help explain why through Feb. 1, the Mustangs have played 20 games and in 12 of those, he's led the team on the glass. In all but nine contests this year, the senior has grabbed at least 10 rebounds.
He's nearly averaging a double-double, scoring 15.4 points per game and pulling down nine rebounds a contest.
"I can't even account for his numbers, although he plays a lot of minutes," Martin says. "He's a factor on every possession in terms of rebounding."
In the middle of a stretch of five consecutive double-doubles, Durso was named the Golden State Athletic Player of the Week for the week of Jan. 7-12.
And that was before he pulled down 21 rebounds in a home game against Hope International on Jan. 19.
"He just wanted to get to every rebound," teammate Ryan Zamroz said of that night. "There was one time I went to get one and he snatched it out of my hands and I was like, 'All right Eric, all right.' We joked he got all those rebounds from us. But he earned all of them."
Don't let that tenacious attitude fool you.
If you ask Durso about his basketball abilities, he doesn't have much to say except he feels like he isn't a shooter, so he has to play tough defense and rebound.
After all, he says there was a period of time where he didn't know if he'd be playing collegiately at all. He came to TMC because his sister played volleyball for the Mustangs and his best friend also liked the school.
Durso went on a mission to the Phillipines the summer before he started at TMC, so his only exposure to then-head coach Bill Oates and the Mustangs basketball team was two different days when he came to the campus and played pickup basketball with the team.
He's improved his scoring and rebounding stats each year and now, four years later, Durso is second on the team in scoring behind his roommate, Zamroz.
Durso will tell you that's only because defenders concern themselves more with Zamroz and others, so he just tries to knock down the shots when he's open.
Durso has taken more 3-pointers than anyone on the Mustangs, but also has the best percentage out of those who have attempted at least two treys, making 47.1 percent (48-for-102) from beyond the arc.
He's just a tick under that from the floor, at 47 percent.
Martin says he's the "prototypical four man in our system."
The combination of his scoring and rebounding abilities makes him difficult to guard.
"Traditionally, his position is played by quite a bigger guy and a lot of times a less athletic guy than he is," Zamroz said. "Sometimes he's matching up against guys who are 6-9. He can bring the bigger guys out on the perimeter and they're not as good guarding out there as down low."
Durso's numbers this season have caught his second-year head coach off guard a bit. But then again, Martin says only Zamroz can match Durso's work ethic in practice.
There's good days at practice and days where players just don't feel like being there. Martin says he never finds Durso having one of those days.
Not surprising for a guy who sees his final collegiate basketball season as icing on the cake.
"I figured if I could work my hardest, maybe a few years down the road I'd get some minutes and get some kind of scholarship," Durso says. "I never imagined being a full-time starter. I never envisioned a senior year like it's been."


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