Kosiorek will learn today if her basketball career is over U.S. OLYMPIC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL TRIALS

May 31, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- There are those who say that crisp, clean mountain air brings a clarity and sharpness to one's thinking.

Before she came here 6,000 feet above sea level to the Olympic Training Center, Rosemary Kosiorek, who beat improbable odds be one of the best collegiate women's basketball players in the country, had been thinking long and hard about the game of basketball and her place in it.

Now, at what could be the end of a glorious career, Kosiorek, the pride of Mercy High and West Virginia University, has been thinking that life without basketball might not be so bad.

"Somewhere down the road, I think I'll play competitively somewhere, maybe not overseas," said Kosiorek. "I'm kind of looking forward to just playing for fun, on a different level. That's something that I've always looked forward to doing."

By brunch time today, most of the 56 invitees to this weekend's Olympic tryouts for the U.S. women's basketball team will know their immediate fate, when the list of cuts is announced.

By then, the invitees will know whether they'll go on to Barcelona, Spain, play professionally overseas or go back to college.

At that time, Kosiorek will have a clue into her fate as well, and none of those options may apply.

Kosiorek, who was named last week as Atlantic 10 Conference (( Female Scholar Athlete of the Year, with a 3.72 grade-point average in accounting, will join an accounting firm in Baltimore and will marry her high school sweetheart in the fall.

In other words, unlike many of the invitees here this weekend, there are other things to life for Kosiorek than shooting hoops.

"I tell her that once she stops playing, she'll want to play again, so she may be back for tryouts, but right now, she doesn't have any inclination toward that at all," said Scott Harrelson, her coach at West Virginia.

"I'd like to even see her go play overseas. I think she'd have fun. She's had to work so hard. I'd like to see her be able to just play and enjoy it and not have to work so hard."

Given her diligence and persistence, it's unlikely that Kosiorek would know how to do anything else but to work hard.

The talk about Kosiorek coming out of Mercy, where she was a two-time All- Metro performer, was that she would never make it on the Division I level.

So, all the 5-foot-5 point guard did was etch her name into the Mountaineers record book, becoming the school's No. 2 all-time women's scorer (2,061).

Her 725 career assists are tops in West Virginia history, and her assist average (6.25) and steals (293) also place her in the NCAA's all-time top 10.

Last season, she led the Mountaineers to a berth in the regional semifinals with a 26-4 record, and was awarded the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given to the nation's outstanding college player who is 5-6 or shorter.

"There's nobody that's going to lead your team better than Rosemary Kosiorek, in my mind, in the country," said Harrelson. "She may not be a defensive expert, but when the job's on the line, I know who I want in my backcourt."

But Kosiorek's unselfish play might cost her a chance to make the Olympic team.

Her odds of landing one of the 12 spots on the Olympic roster were long to start, given the quality of competition.

Theresa Grentz, head coach of the U.S. team, declined to comment on specific players until cuts are announced later today. Her competition at point guard includes 1988 Olympians Suzie McConnell and Teresa Weatherspoon and current collegian Dawn Staley and Jennifer Azzi, who played on the 1990 world championship team.

But, to Harrelson's way of thinking, Kosiorek hasn't helped herself by thinking only about passing rather than showing her offensive versatility.

"She really doesn't like this situation here because there are so many arrogant people here and she doesn't like that kind of people," said Harrelson.

"She thinks you have to work at it, and you have to understand where you're going and what you're going to do, as she does. I think she's very even-keeled at that and she knows what she has to do and that's why she keeps passing the ball." Kosiorek, who shot 56 percent from the floor this season, disagrees.

"I've never been a person to force shots," Kosiorek said. "I kind of like to see things run organized and that's my job as a point guard.

"As far as what my coaches are telling me, my job is to get things organized and take the shots when they're open. I think I shoot a few times when I am open and I will do that. But I will not force a shot."

Of course, no small part of Kosiorek's desire to pass is the cast of characters assembled here. On her practice team alone are such greats as Georgia's Teresa Edwards, widely acclaimed as the world's best women's player, and Auburn's Vickie Orr, a three-time All-America and a member of the 1990 gold medal winning World Championship and Goodwill Games teams.

"He [Harrelson] keeps telling me to have fun, have fun," Kosiorek said. "It's difficult to have fun when there's so many great players here."

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