When Maryland opens its basketball season at Cole Field House Saturday night it will be facing a point guard who was born to play the position.
He's Kevin Booth, of Mount St. Mary's. Kevin's father, Harry Booth, is a former head coach at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and was an assistant under Rollie Massimino when Villanova won the NCAA championship in 1985.
"You can tell Kevin's a coach's son," says Mount coach Jim Phelan, a Basketball Hall of Fame nominee who has won 687 games in his 38 years at Emmitsburg.
Bob Flynn, a Phelan assistant who played for ol' Bow Tie at the Mount in the late '70s (after Cardinal Gibbons High), goes even further.
"We don't even have to spend time working with Kevin," Flynn says. "He's been so well schooled in the game all his life that we can devote more time with the players who need it."
Booth was expected to blossom last year. In the opening game he scored 29 points at Xavier (23 in the second half). In the second game at Navy he injured a knee. He red-shirted the rest of the season.
"The knee feels 100 percent now," Booth says. "We're all really up for this season because we'll be in the NCAA tournament if we win our [Northeast] conference championship. Last year we didn't have that automatic entry into the tournament."
What about this game with on-the-rise Maryland?
"I'm glad we're playing them first," Booth says. "They don't know much about us because we haven't played.
"If they remember me from two years ago, they still don't know me. I'm a different player than I was then. I've worked hard since then to improve several parts of my game."
There's the coach's son for you.
* That's the same serious approach employed by another coach's son who won the American League's Most Valuable Player Award this week -- the Orioles' Cal Ripken.
Incidentally, the Tigers' Cecil Fielder was out of character saying Ripken's selection over him is "a joke."
The truth is, when you consider all Cal does -- playing shortstop 162 games, hitting for average and power, providing leadership -- he's a much more valuable player than Fielder. Cecil's a great home run hitter and RBI man -- period.
"Cecil's a great guy," says Tops in Sports banquet chairman Frank Sliwka. "Last year he flew the red-eye here from California to receive our Babe Ruth Crown -- and then flew back to California right after the banquet. Compare that to the jerk [Jose Canseco] who didn't show to receive the same award three years ago and didn't even call."
Fielder has won the Babe Ruth Award again this year and will be back at the Towson Center Jan. 10. Ripken will also be at the Tops head table.
* Speaking of Tops, the Topps Co. (baseball cards, now minus bubble gum) has named Baltimorean Sterling "Sheriff" Fowble this state's winner of the U.S. Baseball Federation's Golden Diamond Amateur Baseball Coach of the Year Award.
Fowble, as a Western Maryland College player in 1936, was picked on the All-Maryland outfield with Charley Keller (Maryland) and Bill Nicholson (Washington College). Says the Sheriff: "Three lefthanded hitters."
* The fourth annual Beltway Classic basketball tournament will complete the circuit Dec. 6-7 at UMBC. The other participants are Towson State, Loyola College and Mount St. Mary's. After that, no more Beltway Classic. The schools say scheduling difficulties will not permit it.
That kills me. So Loyola opens tomorrow night at Stanford, UMBC opens Saturday at Kansas while Mount St. Mary's is at Maryland, and Towson opens Monday at Colorado. These people can fly all over the country to play but they can't make it to the Beltway.
* Hot tip: Loyola is a sure thing to win Monday night. A lock. Guaranteed. Send the money in. The Greyhounds will play at Loyola Marymount in California. The winner will definitely be a Loyola. The last time Baltimore Loyola played out there was 1986. Marymount won that one, 103-98.
* Earl Hersh, the former Western Maryland athlete and Milwaukee Braves outfielder, says he likes the way the Orioles and Glenn Davis got together on a contract.
Says Hersh, who is superintendent of physical education in Carroll County schools: "It was good because Davis didn't shop around for a better offer. Baltimore fans like that. They like loyal players like Brooks [Robinson] and Cal. They don't like guys who throw themselves on the free-agent market like Reggie Jackson."