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Another Stewart hoping Coppin is pro springboard


The older model was lithe and sinewy, a monument to perseverance and a cornerstone of the resurgent Coppin State program.

The newer model is more of a wide body with a diversified game, but he comes equipped with a tendency to indulge in tempting food.

One has already made his name in basketball, both with Coppin and the Washington Bullets. The other is about to begin the journey that he hopes will take him to the same destination.

And, if Stephen Stewart is nearly as successful as big brother Larry, the Eagles figure to launch another smooth flight through the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference soon.

Comparison is inevitable when brothers are involved, and Stephen knows his achievements inevitably will be stacked against Larry's.

"Sure, there is a lot of pressure, but I try not to think about it," said Stephen, a 6-foot-5, 233-pound rock who can play any of four positions. "I'm concerned, but as long as I have his backing, I'll be all right.

"The comparisons were there in high school and they're going to be here. But I have confidence in myself. I know what I can do."

They are similar, yet different. Stephen is much further advanced as an outside threat than Larry was as a collegian and can play positions ranging from power forward to point guard.

He can go inside and bang with the big guys or go two or three steps beyond the three-point line and fire away effectively.

"His game is totally different than mine," Larry Stewart said. "I was strictly an inside player. Mookie is a good outside shooter and likes to take his man one-on-one.

"We've also got different personalities. I'm kind of quiet. But Mookie, he's always talking, on and off the court, but he gets the job done."

Said Coppin coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell, whose team plays at Towson State tonight, "Stephen handles the ball very well, has played at point guard in practice and gives us a lot of versatility. But he is like Larry in his general attitude toward the game. They both understand it very well."

The sticky point is conditioning. A Proposition 48 player who sat out last season, Stephen has not been active since the first four games of the 1989-90 season at Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia.

He didn't play the rest of that season, then sat out another year while repeating the 12th grade. Last season, he had to work on upgrading his academic work at Coppin.

"For me, coming out of high school seems so long ago, I don't remember all the schools that recruited me," he said. "I sure don't feel like a regular freshman here. The way I choose to look at it is I'm a freshman playing a junior's game."

With a weakness for fattening foods, Stephen can add weight quickly. He was at 245 when he arrived at Coppin, 35 pounds over his high school playing weight. Currently, he is trying to pare himself to 220.

"The inactivity got to me," said Stephen. "I don't really feel there's a weight problem; it's the eating habits I have to improve."

Larry introduced him to Coppin, but didn't convince him to go there. It was Mitchell who sold the program.

Said Larry Stewart: "I never put any pressure on him to do this or that. I'm my own person, and he's got to be his own man. I'm just glad he's at Coppin. I'll get a chance to see him play some games."

And Stephen is anxious for the chance to play, after sitting on the bench while his teammates went 15-13 last season.

"I knew I could do certain things to help," he said, "but all I could do was watch. I haven't been able to do anything for a long time. . . . except attend class."

The book work has improved and if he slips there is a flat basketball on Mitchell's desk to remind him "no books, no ball."

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