Like sparkplug Cooper, city's NPSL team wastes no time getting started

The Inside Stuff

July 20, 1992|By Bill Tanton

The operation opened for business at 9 a.m. today in the Arena offices that once were occupied by the Blast. Even the new phones are connected (625-2320).

Meet Baltimore's new, no-name-yet indoor soccer team, a member of the 11-team National Professional Soccer League. The league's board of directors, in what is regarded as a mere formality, was to give final approval today in Canton, Ohio.

It's a wonder that we still have a soccer team in Baltimore. Nobody knows better than NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos that this couldn't have happened without Kenny Cooper's quick work.

"Kenny had me fly from my home in Canton to Washington last week," says Paxos, "so we could meet with the Capital Centre people about dates in the Baltimore Arena.

"That night he called me back in Canton and said I had to fly back to Baltimore the next day. The people at the Capital Centre wanted to physically see the new owner, Bill Stealey, so we all went back there and completed the arrangements. I tell you, this Kenny is a fighter."

Cooper downplays the compliment.

"What do you expect," he says, "of a man from the land of Winston Churchill and Maggie Thatcher?"

Cooper will be the team's coach, general manager and, as he puts it, "the chief cook and bottle washer."

The new team will have a name, of course. It could be the Blast, if Stealey and former Blast owner Ed Hale can negotiate that (they should be able to, since the men are friends).

Commish Paxos may not be finished with last-minute flights out of Canton-Akron. He hopes to add three more teams -- including Cleveland and St. Louis from the defunct Major Soccer League -- to create a 14-team league. Its 40-game schedule begins in November. Playoffs will be held in April.

The other NPSL members are defending champion Detroit, Buffalo, Canton, Chicago, Dayton, Harrisburg, Illinois, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Tulsa.

* Ham Bishop, newly appointed interim headmaster at Boys' Latin, should be a good fit for the lacrosse-conscious Lakers.

Bishop, former headmaster at St. Anne's Belfield in Charlottesville, Va., was a great defenseman at St. Paul's School in the '40s and for Howdy Myers' national champions at Johns Hopkins after World War II. Boys' Latin has itself an outstanding leader.

* There's optimism galore at College Park over Maryland's football and basketball teams, but both sports will need a couple of strong recruiting years to reach their potential.

Mark Duffner, Maryland's first-year football coach, has impressed all with his infectious enthusiasm, but he needs to add talent. Gary Williams finally is able to bring in basketball players who won't be subject to NCAA sanctions.

Pat Dennis, the ex-Baltimorean who's now basketball coach at The Citadel, says Williams recently added a major talent in 6-foot-6 Johnny Rhodes.

Says Dennis: "I saw Rhodes in prep school and he's going to be a great player for Maryland. He could play point guard but he'd be better at the 2-guard. Gary is going to build a great team."

* The talk in lacrosse circles is that the front-runner for the coaching job at Brown is Mike Caravana, now coach at Dennison. Caravana, a native Long Islander, played and coached at Virginia and at one time was an assistant coach at Brown under Dom Starsia, now Virginia's head man.

* The Dream Team -- a nightmare for its Olympic basketball rivals -- resumed practice yesterday in Monte Carlo for the upcoming Games in Barcelona. No one in the know is surprised by the one-sidedness of U.S. wins in the Tournament of the Americas (the team won by an average of 51.5 points a game) but there is one surprise, as noted by Michael Jordan.

"We're able to play together," says Jordan of the star-studded U.S. squad. "Magic Johnson had a great role in unifying this team. I'm happy not to have to score 30 to 40 points a game." (Jordan averaged 12.7 points).

* Charley Winner, who has a lot of friends in Baltimore, recently retired after 37 years in the National Football League. Winner was the defensive backfield coach under his father-in-law, Weeb Ewbank, when the John Unitas-led Baltimore Colts were at their peak.

Winner has been working in recent years as director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula. Winner, who also served as coach of the Cardinals and the Jets, once confessed to me: "If I didn't have to work for a living, I'd spend all my time fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. This truly is the Land of Pleasant Living."

Maybe he'll get to do more of that now.

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