Cavaliers' Big Men Help Slam Competition

Posted by Michael Glick on Feb 21 2003 at 04:00PM PST
Senior Bowers, Junior Gay Focus On MIAA Crown Members of the Mount St. Joseph's and Spalding boys' basketball teams play before a packed gym. The Cavaliers lost, 63-57, and are the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. (Photos Don Wright For The Washington Post) By Heather A. Dinich Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, February 20, 2003; Page AA15 In the first game of the season, Spalding 7-foot senior center Will Bowers slammed a two-handed dunk at the Morgan Wootten Invitational at the University of Maryland Comcast Center, his future home court. Junior forward Rudy Gay, a 6-7 forward, jammed an alley-oop pass with 32 seconds remaining to seal the 56-52 win in that game against nationally ranked Archbishop Molloy of New York. Together, Gay and Bowers had four dunks in the tournament. The tone for the season was set. Entering this week, Gay, a transfer from Eastern Tech in Baltimore, led the team with 14.1 points and seven rebounds per game. Bowers followed with 11.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. The pair of big men has led the Cavaliers to national prominence and a possible second-place finish in the combined Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A-Conference/Baltimore Catholic League. "Will and Rudy complement each other excellently," said Spalding Coach Mike Glick. "Both players have the ability to play inside, both have the ability to pass the basketball inside and shoot the ball from the outside. They're both very versatile players. "As a coach, it puts me in a very advantageous position to be able to pull one of them away from the basket while keeping the other one in. I think they have a great rapport with each other. There is competition amongst themselves in practice, but never in a game. I don't think either Rudy or Will cares who scores or rebounds as long as we win, which is rare to find these days." Gay and Bowers are Glick's most recent success stories -- 16 of his previous players have gone on to play Division I basketball. And this pair, along with a deep supporting lineup, has provided the Cavaliers their third 20-victory season in four years. Spalding had been unstoppable at home this season until Friday, when they lost to Mount St. Joseph, 63-57. The Cavaliers final regular season game against Loyola was postponed Sunday. The Cavaliers are the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, which was scheduled to begin Friday at Goucher College but could be changed because of weather. Spalding (21-5, 12-3) entered the week having won 13 of its last 15 games. Bowers and Gay work together off the court, too. Bowers, who has committed to the University of Maryland, is helping Gay navigate the sometimes overwhelming recruiting process. "The same coaches are coming at me that were coming at him," Gay said. "He tells me about them and what he likes and what he doesn't. He doesn't want to see me going anywhere I probably wouldn't be pleased with later. Of course, he's trying to press me to go to Maryland." Gay and Bowers compete differently -- Gay likes to take more fadeaway jumpers and calls himself more of a "finesse" player. Bowers drives hard and draws the fouls. Both of them, Glick said, are very hard on themselves. "In film sessions, they are critical of their performances," Glick said. "They tend not to make excuses. They take responsibility. Will and Rudy are very coachable kids." With defenses keying in on Bowers, Gay has been free to score -- he contributed 33 points in last week's 74-65 win against St. Francis while Bowers was held to two points. Against Mount St. Joseph, Bowers led the team with 16 points, and Gay added 11. "I don't think it would be worth anything if we didn't play together," said Gay, who scored all of Spalding's points in a 9-2 run with less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. "We wouldn't be winning like we are. We have a great team. They take a lot of pressure off us. We just complement everything they do." The pair does get some help. Junior point guard Jesse Brooks leads the team with 5.5 assists per game, and senior Dave Douglas is the team's top defensive player. Douglas said he wouldn't have reached his potential this year without being pushed by his teammates. "It makes me better as a player," said Douglas, who scored a career-high 17 points last week against St. Francis. "I know if I go to the hole soft, it's getting sent to half court or I might get dunked on at practice. "I have to look out for certain things other people might not have to look out for. It helps everyone in the long run. People also double-team Will a lot; that's how I've been getting a lot of my points. "It's been a great experience," Douglas said. "I've known Jesse and Will since I was small, we grew up playing together. You add Rudy, and you have a special team." © 2003 The Washington Post Company


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