Rose doesn't come up short NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME 4: OKLAHOMA STATE VS. DREXEL, 10:10 P.M.

March 16, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

Tonight, when Drexel plays Oklahoma State in the opening round of the NCAA Eastern Regionals at the Baltimore Arena, it may be difficult to spot Malik Rose, the Dragons' junior center.

But look hard enough, and you just might find him running around in the giant shadow cast by Oklahoma State's 7-foot, 292-pound Bryant "Big Country" Reeves.

The school media guide lists Rose, the North Atlantic Conference's Player of the Year, at 6-7.

Rose laughs softly when this is mentioned to him.

"Actually, I'm 6-5 1/4 with my shoes off," he said.

Which makes Rose's accomplishments as a rebounder all the more remarkable. He's the modern-day version of Wes Unseld.

This season, in leading the Dragons to a 22-7 record and their second straight NCAA tournament berth, the Philadelphia native averaged 13.3 rebounds, second in the nation.

Asked to explain his talent for snatching the ball against players usually five or six inches taller, Rose said there is no secret.

"It's just hard work," he said. "There are a lot of guys who can put the ball in the hole. But not a lot of guys like to rebound. I don't blame them. It can get real rough under the basket."

Rose also led Drexel in scoring this season with his 19.6 average. But he may be more proud that he joined such Philadelphia basketball legends as Tom Gola, Michael Brooks and Lionel Simmons of La Salle, Ernie Beck of Penn, Howard Porter and Jim Washington of Villanova and Mike Bantom of St. Joseph's as players who had more than 350 rebounds and more than 500 points in a season.

At his current pace, Rose next season can be expected to eclipse Drexel's all-time rebounding mark of 1,316 set by Bob Stephens (1975-79).

But first he has a monumental task in trying to neutralize Reeves.

"I know he's huge, and he can also play the game," Rose said.

"He's got a lot of inside moves and great hands. But I've never been intimidated by size. I've always played against guys bigger than me. I spent a lot of time last summer playing against [6-11 North Carolina center] Rasheed Wallace in a Philadelphia recreational league."

Although Rose has not grown taller, Drexel coach Bill Herrion said his game has grown in stature.

"Malik has shown marked improvement this season," said Herrion. "I don't know if he can make the same jump again next year, but when he puts his mind to something, he can be really focused until he gets it."

Herrion says Rose's advancement was mostly a matter of maturity and learning to keep his composure.

"Last year, as a 19-year-old sophomore, he got called for technicals in three straight games," Herrion said. "He got real frustrated at times. But by the end of the season, he was under control."

Said Rose: "I learned to keep my mouth shut. Guys were always trying to bait me, but now I just swallow my frustration and bear down harder."

Rose also has tried to purge the memory of last year's visit to the NCAA tourney, when the Dragons lost to city rival Temple, 61-39, in the opening round at USAir Arena. The Owls held him to five rebounds and four points.

"I just couldn't find a way to get open," he said. "Wherever I went, one, two or three guys were there."

FIVE-POINTERS

Best Game: Routing Northeastern in NAC final, 72-52, with Rose scoring 21 and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Worst game: The Dragons fell apart in second half of 56-51 loss at Charleston before going on four-game win streak.

Style of play: Drexel favors an uptempo offense and plays aggressive man-to-man defense 99 percent of the time.

Key stat: The Dragons have limited the opposition to .405 field goal percentage.

Miscellaneous: Drexel managed only 39 points in first-round loss to Temple last March, shooting .286 from the field.

FIVE-POINTERS

Best game: The Dragons trounced Northeastern in NAC final, 72-52, with Rose scoring 21 and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Worst game: They fell apart in second half of 56-51 loss to the College of Charleston before going on four-game win streak.

Style of play: Drexel favors an uptempo game on offense and plays aggressive man-to-man defense 99 percent of the time.

Key stat: The Dragons have limited the opposition to a .405 field goal percentage.

Miscellaneous: Drexel managed only 39 points in first-round NCAA loss to Temple last March, shooting .286 from the field.

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