Clifton's Rogers, King getting up to speed at GW Penders' new open style has pair happy but gasping

National notebook

December 04, 1998|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

While Shawnta Rogers and Mike King were sad to see Mike Jarvis leave George Washington for St. John's last spring, they looked forward to Tom Penders coming in from Texas with his wide-open offense.

It was a style each had played at Lake Clifton High School, where they were teammates for two years. It was also a style that they had left behind in Baltimore, since Jarvis used a more half-court, pro-style offense.

"That's one of the first things Coach Jarvis said to me when he was leaving, that it was to my advantage to play for Coach Penders because of the offense he ran," Rogers said recently.

Said King, "I grew up playing this way, at Cecil-Kirk [Recreation Center] and at Lake Clifton. I've got to get used to playing it again."

Four games into the season, Rogers and King are still making the transition to GW's new transition game.

Rogers still has more turnovers (16) than assists (13), and King has yet to make a three-point shot (0-for-12), but their performances in Wednesday night's 97-76 win over American was a step in the right direction.

The 5-foot-4 senior point guard had a season-high 25 points on 10-for-20 shooting, while the 6-4 sophomore shooting guard finished with 22 points on 9-for-15 from the field. King had come in having made just 12 of 47 shots.

"It's very different [from last year]," said King. "We're the ones taking the most shots, our legs get tired and our shots fall short."

Said Penders: "The great news about the system is that if you can score, you have the freedom to score. The bad news is that you have the responsibility to score and you can't hide."

Going into the American game, George Washington (3-1) was averaging 67.7 points a game, more than five fewer than under Jarvis last year. Penders' teams at Texas averaged 88.1 points a game during his first nine seasons in Austin before dropping to 76.1 last season, when the Longhorns finished 14-17.

"It takes a few games," said Penders. "That doesn't mean Mike all of a sudden is going to knock down 30 a game. But those two kids are made for this system. They've got the speed and the ability. It takes a while to get to the conditioning level you need to play the all-out defense."

Listing Longhorns

Penders' former team is off to a rough start under new coach Rick Barnes. The Longhorns are 0-4 for the first time since starting 0-6 in 1974-75, including an embarrassing 18-point loss at home to South Florida. The most recent defeat, last Sunday against Georgia, was probably the toughest.

With Texas trailing the Bulldogs by a point in the last 10 seconds, point guard Ivan Wagner had a clear lane to the basket because Kris Clack was double-teamed in the low post. Wagner, a former NCAA high jump champion, lost his sneaker cutting to the hoop, slipped and lost the ball. Adding injury to insult, Clack suffered a separated shoulder on the play.

Waiting on Cleaves

Michigan State's profile is considerably higher than in recent years, largely to a formidable early-season schedule and the status of junior Mateen Cleaves, whom many considered the country's top returning college point guard.

But the ninth-ranked Spartans and Cleaves have had a disappointing start. In his team's losses to No. 10 Temple and No. 4 Duke, Cleaves has been outplayed at key times by counterparts Pepe Sanchez and William Avery.

Cleaves had 17 points and six assists against the Owls, but his nine second-half turnovers (10 total) factored heavily in Michigan State blowing a big lead and losing, 70-69. Cleaves made only three of 17 shots in Wednesday night's 73-67 loss to the Blue Devils.

"I'm not playing Mateen Cleaves basketball right now," said Cleaves, who is coming off a summer when he suffered severely sprained ankle and bruised shoulder. "I'm going to at some time, and when I do, we're going to be an awfully tough team to beat."

Tomorrow would be a good time, since the Spartans visit top-ranked Connecticut and Cleaves will be matched up against Huskies sophomore Khalid El-Amin, who could be his toughest test this year.

Huskies coach Jim Calhoun described the remarkable ascent of the 5-foot-10, 200-pound sophomore in almost biblical terms. "He's like a kid in the desert who brings you a drink of water," said Calhoun. "He brought us two jugs full."

El-Amin went from a relative unknown to becoming the Big East's Rookie of the Year as well as its postseason tournament MVP. Even on a top-ranked team that includes Big East Player of the Year and first team All-America Richard Hamilton, El-Amin is considered the leader.

"He points us basketball-wise, he leads us emotionally," said Calhoun.

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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