The timing was perfect last night for Rodney Elliott to come home to Baltimore and bask in the spotlight of a Maryland basketball career that has taken off in a big way this season.
Dunbar's Elliott is closing with a rush in his final days in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland is on a 5-1 roll in the league and the Terrapins moved back into the national rankings yesterday at No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today rankings.
Also, Elliott and his teammates are the talk of the town this week as they prepare to take on No. 1 Duke on Thursday night in Durham, N.C.
Elliott had some time to put all the pressures of the ACC aside last night at the Camden Club, where Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke proclaimed it "Rodney Elliott Day in Baltimore."
Schmoke and Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow took turns praising Elliott as a model citizen and role model, and Elliott seemed moved by all the attention.
"Rodney's goal some day is to own a day-care center, and I think that's such a beautiful thing." Yow said. "He is a leader on our team, but he does it quietly. He is a person who will contribute to the state and city long after his playing days are over."
When Maryland coach Gary Williams was told of Elliott's day-care ambitions, he said, "It will be a great day-care center if Rodney owns it. You ought to see how the young kids hang on him outside the Maryland locker room."
If Elliott's day-care center dream comes true, he would be following in the footsteps of former Baltimore and Washington Bullets great Wes Unseld, who along with his wife, Connie, has owned a day-care center for several years in Baltimore.
"Wes used his NBA career as a platform for the center, and I'd love to do the same thing," Elliott said.
All of which prompted Williams to comment, "All these things about Rodney as a person are true, but let's don't forget how good a basketball player he is."
Elliott will play the final regular-season game of his Maryland career at the Baltimore Arena on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m., when the Terps meet Temple. School officials said about 600 tickets, priced at $10, are available.
"You couldn't write a better script for me than this one," said Elliott, who averages 14.8 points, second on the Terps to Laron Profit (16.2) in scoring, and is tied with Obinna Ekezie for the lead in rebounding (6.7). "The adrenalin will be flowing, obviously, with all my friends and family in the stands. But I'll still have to look at this like it's just another game for us."
Elliott and former Terps star Keith Booth, also of Dunbar, both said the same thing last year before Maryland took on Pennsylvania at the Baltimore Arena. They combined for 48 points and 15 rebounds in a 103-73 rout.
Elliott had a career-high 22 against Penn in that game, and Baltimore fans are wondering if he'll be going for the record this time.
"This game won't be about me going for a career high," Elliott said. "It will be about playing team basketball and winning the game. Temple has a good team and a great coach [John Chaney], and it's not like they are just going to lay down and let us win."
Another plus for Elliott on the court this season has been his play against the seven ranked teams thus far on Maryland's schedule. He is averaging 16.0 points and 7.3 rebounds against those squads.
It gets even better against the No. 1 (North Carolina) and No. 2 teams (Kansas and Duke) Maryland has played.
Elliott is averaging 19.7 points and 9.0 rebounds against those top teams.
Pub Date: 1/27/98