LANDOVER -- Baltimore basketball bragging rights are up for grabs tonight at USAir Arena.
When Maryland tips off against George Washington at 8: 30 in the final of the Franklin National Bank Classic, local basketball standouts will be playing with their reputations on the line.
George Washington's diminutive sophomore point guard, Shawnta Rogers, has played with and against Maryland forwards Keith Booth and Rodney Elliott for years. The rivalry began when Rogers, The Sun's 1995 Player of the Year, was at Lake Clifton High School, and Booth, now a senior, and Elliott, a junior, were at Dunbar.
It will reach a fever pitch tonight.
"I think the game is big because of what people make of it, and the people that play it," GW coach Mike Jarvis said. "Because all of the people that play it play it with a lot of pride.
"When Shawnta goes to Baltimore this summer, you know he's going to run into Keith Booth and a few other people, so it's big. You don't want guys talking at you and talking to you for the next 40 years about how they beat you.
"So it's big."
The game may be big, but Rogers, who was recruited by Maryland, is not.
He wears uniform number 54 to signify his height, 5 feet 4, yet he has little trouble picking up rebounds and negotiating around the big men when he drives the lane.
Many Division I teams were scared away by Rogers' size, but last season he led the Colonials (5-1) in free-throw percentage, was third on the team in rebounding and second in the Atlantic 10 in assists.
This season, Rogers has increased his averages to 12 points, five rebounds and five assists per game, living up to the advance billing of coaches who named him to the Atlantic 10's preseason second team.
Yesterday was no different. Rogers tied for the team high with 14 points and seven rebounds in the Colonials' 57-36 win over Mississippi State to set up tonight's battle for playground pride.
Rogers' coming-out party was supposed to be against Maryland in this same tournament last year, but he was academically ineligible until Christmas.
Tonight he gets his chance to show friends and family what he can do against some local competition on a national stage.
"Everybody gets together when we go home," Rogers said. "We play on the same team sometimes, and when we meet like this, that's all we talk about.
"Like, last year we played UMass, and [Dunbar product] Donta Bright was always talking about how he set a pick on me. So it's a lot of bragging rights on the line."
Pub Date: 12/09/96