Hopkins' men, women courting perfect basketball seasons so far

Area colleges

December 12, 1991|By Paul McMullen

Even with Maryland's loss at Louisville Tuesday, there is still a state institution with a perfect record in basketball. Johns Hopkins has been even more dominant on its level, Division III, than College Park has been in Division I.

The Blue Jays women (5-0) are off to the best start in the history of the program. If the men (5-0) can win at Widener tonight for only the second time since the 1960s, both will be unbeaten when they return from a lengthy holiday break Jan. 4 with a doubleheader against Carnegie-Mellon.

"The women have fulfilled their obligation," said Bill Nelson, the men's coach. "Let's see if we can."

The men are seeking their third straight berth in the NCAA tournament, while the women hope to get there for the first time in coach Nancy Blank's tenure. Both Blank and Nelson came to Hopkins in 1986, the first of several parallels between their teams.

There were big holes to fill from graduation, as the men lost third-team All-American Andy Enfield and four other seniors, while the women had to replace two 1,000-point scorers, Julianne Rolapp and Kristie Kantowski. Stifling defense is another commonality, as the men are holding opponents to 36.7 percent shooting, the women 35.6.

The women posted a big early-season win over Franklin & Marshall, while the men surprised highly touted Hamilton, a New York power that Nelson said "has the best record in all of college basketball over the last 15 years."

The Blue Jays are different at the offensive end. The women revolve around Sylke Knuppel, a junior forward out of Glenelg High who's averaging 24.4 points and 7.6 rebounds. The men are more balanced, as senior forward Jay Gangemi (15.8), sophomore guard Luke Busby (14.2) and sophomore center Frank Grzywacz (13.8) average in double figures.

Knuppel missed close to three weeks with an ankle injury last season, when she played power forward. Now she's playing the small forward spot, benefiting her and Hopkins.

"Sylke's a perimeter player," Blank said, "but we had to use her inside last year. We've sort of turned her loose."

* Nelson will get his first look at arch-rival Washington College Saturday, when the Shoremen play at Towson State.

It will be the second game against a Division I foe for Washington (4-2), which dropped its opener at Delaware. The other loss was at St. Mary's, the first time the Shoremen had lost to the Seahawks in 10 years.

Washington was 137-49 from 1983-90 for coach Tom Finnegan, but the rebuilding Shoremen slipped to 9-14 last season. This is another season of transition, as Finnegan is working in three

freshman and Charles Cummings, a 6-1 sophomore

transfer from UMES who starred at St. Paul's.

Finnegan, 271-234 in 22 seasons in Chestertown, is just seven victories away from passing the late J. Thomas Kibler and becoming the winningest coach in Washington history. Nelson, by the way, quietly became Hopkins' all-time leader Nov. 26, as a rout of Goucher was his 77th win with the Blue Jays. Gary Rupert had 76 victories from 1971-77.

* For the first time since Morgan State rejoined the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1984, the Bears did not have a single player receive first- or second-team all-star football honors. Kick returner Dante Carter, linebackers Reno Lucas and Wesley Smith, and defensive back Mario Rivers did receive honorable mention.

Carter is a sophomore out of Carver, Lucas a senior from Northwestern.

Another local product, Mervo's Glenny Moore, had 31 receptions this season but was not nominated by coach Ricky Diggs for MEAC honors. His three-year totals were 111 catches for 1,772 yards and 13 touchdowns.

In other football leftovers, Towson State's Jeff Bolser had a 41.3-yard punting average, good for a 10th-place standing in Division I-AA.

Towson State and Morgan State both finished 1-10, and each beat only Howard. The Bison woes continued earlier this week, when they were slapped with two years probation by the NCAA because of infractions committed under Willie Jeffries, who's now coaching at South Carolina State.

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