The Colonials' Alexander Koul and Shawnta Rogers are
affectionately known to their teammates as the Twins, which is
amusing because Koul is a 7'1" Belarussian behemoth and Rogers
is a 5'4" Baltimore bumblebee. Coach Mike Jarvis is so tickled
by the notion that he asked Rogers to change his jersey number
to 54 this season, both as a reference to his height and as the
flip side of Koul's number, which is 45. Still, despite all
efforts to connect the pair, Rogers is constantly reminded about
the difference 21 inches can make. "Alexander's size drove him
to the game, and now everybody loves him," Rogers says. "People
didn't come looking for me; I always have to go chase them."
A year ago at this time Rogers was working in a sporting goods
store at a mall in Towson, Md., and waiting for the results of
his fifth attempt at the SAT to arrive in the mail. He made the
required score and joined the Colonials for the second semester.
Then he took over the team in just his second college game. Down
by two with :01.2 left in regulation against Idaho, he sank two
free throws to send the game into overtime and then clinched an
84-83 victory with nine points in the second OT. Despite his
diminutive stature Rogers was GW's third-leading rebounder a
year ago and dished out a team-high 150 assists. And still this
summer he was often chosen last for pickup games in his own
Meanwhile, Koul was signing autographs on the streets of Minsk.
The junior center, who describes his younger self as "this tall,
fat, clumsy guy who just wanted to read books all day," didn't
even begin playing basketball until he was 13. Koul developed
slowly on the Belarussian junior national team and through a
season under Jarvis before establishing his dominance last year,
when he averaged 14.9 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting
64.2% from the field, fourth best in the country.
Koul was the first through a pipeline that has since delivered
three other Belarussians, including 6'8" starting forward Yegor
Mescheriakov, an All-Atlantic 10 freshman team choice last
season. Canadian-born sophomore J.J. Brade, a solid wing scorer,
also returns from a team that won 21 games, the most wins in a
season at GW in 41 years.
George Washington fans have taken to calling their team Koul and
the Gang, but make no mistake about who is the soul of the
Colonials. "I always listen to the small guy," Koul says.
"Shawnta may look tiny, but he is a giant on the court."
COLOR PHOTO: ALTERED POLAROIDS BY WALTER IOOSS JR. KOUL (LEFT) IS THE BIG MAN ON CAMPUS AT GW, BUT HE DEFERS TO ROGERS [Alexander Koul and Shawnta Rogers]