Rogers measures up to the task at GW 5-3 freshman guard puts Colonials over the top

March 15, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. - On a team that offers the 7-foot-1 profile of Alexander Koul, George Washington coach Mike Jarvis is most appreciative of his little giant, Shawnta Rogers, 5-3.

"Where would we be without him? I don't think I'd be sitting here talking to you," Jarvis said last night. "We would be preparing to play or maybe even lost a game in the NIT."

The Colonials (21-7) are in the West as a No. 11 seed. They face No. 6 seed Iowa tonight at 8 in the University Activity Center on the Arizona State campus.

Rogers, a freshman point guard from Lake Clifton, was the piece of the puzzle that put George Washington over the top this season. He joined the team on Dec. 27 after getting his required Scholastic Assessment Test score, when the team was 4-2. Since then, the Colonials have gone 17-5 and knocked off the No. 1 team in the country, Massachusetts.

"He gave us a chance to run the fast break," GW senior guard Vaughn Jones said. "He definitely runs it better than any point guard in the country. He's helped my game and Kwame's."

That's another part of a heavily Baltimore-flavored backcourt for GW. Kwame Evans, who starred at Southern, is also a guard in the Colonials' three-guard system.

Evans, a senior, leads the Colonials with a scoring average of 18.5, second in the Atlantic 10. He is GW's No. 4 all-time scorer (1,699). "Shawnta provided a lot for the team," Evans said. "He finds a lot of people on the court. He is a gifted floor leader and plays in-your-face defense for 40 minutes. He's very quick."

Rogers obviously plays bigger than 5-3. In 22 games, he's averaged 10.3 points, 6.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds. He set a school record with eight steals against Missouri, and had an 11-rebound, eight-assist effort in a win over Temple. Not surprisingly, he was named to the All-Rookie team in the A-10.

Iowa is left with the dilemma of trying to solve the Rogers-led offense.

"It's hard to stop somebody that little, that quick," said Iowa's Kenyon Murray. "There will have to be a lot of help, both on the perimeter and in the paint."

Iowa coach Tom Davis suggested that too much is made of Rogers' size.

"I think once you start to play him, you don't really think about how small he is," Davis said. "He's just a player. He can shoot, he can handle the ball, he can rebound it.

"He's a player, and those few inches are so minor. I think the inches on the other side are bigger, when you're 7-1 or 6-11. It seems like the nearer the basket you get, the more the height is a factor. The further away you are, the less advantage or disadvantage there is to being smaller . . . He's a talented kid; it's not the size."

Pub Date: 3/15/96

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