Nawrocki, Toback give Hopkins solid 1-2 punch in men's basketball


State notebook

January 29, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Remember this name: Danny Nawrocki.

He could be an inside force in the Johns Hopkins men's basketball program for 3 1/2 more years.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound freshman has taken only 15 collegiate games to establish himself as one of the premier Division III big men in the country, leading the nation in field-goal percentage with a 71.4 percent mark entering last night's game against Franklin & Marshall in a showdown of the top two Centennial Conference teams.

Nawrocki also tops the Centennial in rebounding with a 9.1 average, is a close second to teammate Eric Toback in scoring at 14.7 points per game, and has a team-leading 19 blocked shots.

"This is a great situation for me to be in," Nawrocki said. "I'm playing with a group of guys who really like each other, run the offense well, and have the same goal of going to the NCAA tournament."

It's safe to say that Hopkins coach Bill Nelson likes the idea of building a team around the gifted Nawrocki, while waiting for the other six freshmen and two sophomores to arrive.

That wait has been a lot easier for Nelson, thanks to a strong starting five that has started every game and is led by the 1-2 inside punch of Nawrocki and Toback, a 6-6, 230-pound junior from Mount Hebron.

Toback averages 15 points and 7.2 rebounds, which is third in the league, and is right behind Nawrocki in blocked shots with 18.

Toback is also shooting 38.4 percent on three-pointers and averaging 1.7 assists.

"Having those two guys first and third in the league in rebounding is quite an asset," said Nelson. "And Toback also can shoot the threes. We don't have much depth after the starting five, but our young guys should improve as the season goes on."

Fitzgerald rebounds

Villa Julie sophomore forward Anthony Fitzgerald has recorded the top three Division III rebounding games in the nation on the way to averaging 14.2 a game, which is second in the country.

The 6-5 Fitzgerald had 26 rebounds against both Juniata and Washington College, and 24 against Misericordia.

Fitzgerald also is No. 32 nationally in scoring (21.5 points per game) and No. 33 in field-goal percentage (58.5 percent).

Ayers fills it up

Villa Julie freshman guard Jake Ayers had a memorable performance Jan. 8 against Neumann (Pa.) College in his first collegiate start.

Ayers hit four straight three-point shots in the first four minutes of the game and finished 5-for-9 on three-pointers.

The auspicious start was part of a five-game run that Ayers has been on since he gained a starting role, hitting 12 of 18 three-pointers and scoring 59 points.

Hogan is key

Freshman Stacie Hogan came through with a 9.825 score on floor for Towson University last Friday night, virtually clinching a narrow gymnastics tri-meet victory over No. 18 New Hampshire and Wilson College.

Hogan's second-place score lifted the Tigers to a 193.475-193.350 victory over New Hampshire, while Wilson was third at 167.850.

The victory gave Towson a 5-0 start for the first time since 1996 when the Tigers finished 20-4.

Towson puts its unbeaten mark on the line Saturday when it visits Maryland for a tri-meet against the Terps, Temple and James Madison.

Et cetera

Salisbury University sophomore forward Kiera Watkins scored nearly half of her team's points (career-high 31) last week in a 68-65 loss to visiting Goucher. She also had a game-high 13 rebounds.

The Johns Hopkins-McDaniel women's basketball rivalry is heating up this week, as both teams have 13-2 records and are ranked in the Top 25 in the poll. The fuel comes from Hopkins being ranked No. 15, while McDaniel is No. 24 despite a recent victory over Hopkins.

Senior Christina Giblin, sophomore Kate Dunne, freshman Joanna Kochaniak, and sophomore Cathy Gallagher all finished with perfect bout records last Sunday, as the Johns Hopkins women's fencing team defeated Haverford, 19-8, and New Jersey Tech, 21-6. The Blue Jays are 6-1 this season.

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